How To Make A Climbing Net For Your Parrot

How To Make A Climbing Net For Your Parrot

 January 10th, 2010
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Congo African Grey Parrot, Camelot macaws, blue throated macaw

They go by many names: climbing net, play net, parrot hammock, rope gym and others. Whatever you wish to call them, they are a fantastic addition to your bird’s play area. The only problem with them is that they will set you back about $75-$150 depending on the size. You can find the one pictured here.  They are so easy to make, however, that you don’t need to shell out that kind of cash.

Find a good rope company, and buy in bulk, preferably on the spool. You can contact the manufacturer or wholesaler, and ask for a sample before you buy. You’re going to use a lot of rope, so shop around to get the best prices. Wholesalers will offer a far better deal than the online bird stores.

One important consideration when looking for cotton rope is that the rope you receive is always thicker than what is stated. For instance, I had ordered a sample of 3/8 inch cotton braided rope for a project I was working on where I needed it to fit through drilled 1/2 inch holes. My rope sample was WAY too thick, looking more like 5/8 inch or 3/4 inch. They explained to me that rope thickness is intended to reflect the size it becomes when tension or weight is added, making it never thinner than 3/8 inch. If you choose to use cotton rope, buy it in much thinner diameters. Birds don’t have enough weight to bring the rope the intended width.

My personal preference is for the natural fiber ropes in a project like this one. Not only do they make a more natural looking product, but when a parrot does chew through a part of the grid, it is an easier material to tie back together but more importantly, there is less fray because there are fewer strands used to create the rope. Whenever fray appears on your climbing net, or any toy or cage accessory for that matter, it must be trimmed immediately to eliminate the possibility of entanglement. In the end, the decision of what type of rope to use must come from the bird owner. You know your bird’s chewing habits best, and this is your call.

Whatever kind of rope you select, be sure it is of safe quality for birds. Hemps, jutes, sisal and other rope products imported from India might be sprayed with pesticides in the cargo hold of the ships that transport them. Contact the wholesaler to make sure that it will not be contaminated when you buy it.

NEVER buy rope from hardware stores or marine suppliers. They carry rope that is typically intended for outdoor or underwater use and it will be treated to make it more durable. Always smell the rope for chemicals to be sure.

The first step is to decide on a size for your net. For photo purposes, I am going to make a small net. If you want a net that is twice the size, double the lengths. You will need a LOT more rope than this net appears to use – it is only about 30”X 24” and I used nearly 90’ of ¼” sisal rope. Keep in mind that nets using a thicker diameter of rope will need extra length because the knots will take up more rope length. It’s a good idea to cut each piece longer than you expect to need it to be because if it winds up to be too short, that piece, and your time, will be wasted. You can always trim down long pieces at the end, so go for extra.

I started by cutting a 16’ length of rope, which I folded in half and then tied a basic knot in the end leaving a 2”to 3” loop. This length of rope is going to boarder all sides of the net and will be considerably longer than the other pieces. The loops at each corner of the will allow you to hang the net when you are finished.

I made this net with 3 ½” X 3 ½” squares, which is appropriate for medium to large birds. This is intended as a climbing net. If I were making a hammock, I would use rope with a thicker diameter for easier perching for larger feet. And I could scale the grid back to about 1-2” squares for a small bird although a small bird is certainly capable of getting around on this net. If you choose to make the net grid smaller, expect to use twice as much rope.

Cut 14 lengths of rope that are 5’ long (remember this length is for a 24’ X 30” net). Begin to attach them to one side of the long rope with the looped center starting at the loop and working down spacing them evenly (this net uses 3.5” spacing).

The knot itself is the most important part of this structure. It looks very complicated, but I promise once you do a few of them, you won’t even need to use the guide photo anymore. I practiced with a pair of shoelaces until I got the hang of it.



When you begin the second row and the others that follow, you will need to draw the long end of the rope through the knots in order to get the “tail” to end up on the outside of the net. It is a little bit harder, but by the time you get to the second row, you are an expert at these knots and will have no problem figuring this out.

Try to keep the grid pattern somewhat even, but don’t stress about it. Your bird will not notice that not all sides of the square are perfectly equal. You will find yourself adjusting the gridding as you go along anyways. Tightening the knots to create even(ish) squares is the hardest part of making the net. But as you gain experience with the knots and the rope type, easier ways to get the job done will present themselves.

You can attach your net to the ceiling using the same screw eye or screw hook hardware you would use to hang a potted plant.  Attach a quick link to the rope loop, and a chain to the quick link.  If you’re use a screw eye in the ceiling, another quick link will attach the chain to that.

Here are some tips and suggestions for your net:

  • Use a smaller diameter of rope for your smaller birds.  They will feel more comfortable being acrobatic on a net they can grasp onto.
  • Try stringing some plastic and wood beads onto the rope as you go along.   Or even some toys and shredders.  Many parrots wind up hanging upside down by one foot from the bottom of the net anyways and this will give something to look at while they’re down there!
  • If you’re feeling really adventurous, try dying the cotton rope lengths different colors with VitaCritter dyes.  You’ll have a multi-colored net when you’re done.  Just be sure to let the rope dry thoroughly before you make the net.
  • Hang the net at an angle for a true climbing experience for your bird.
  • Small nets, with a small grid, will work in a cage corner as a sleeping or preening hammock.  Be sure to set it up high, and only off in a corner, so there is no entanglement when your bird is playing with other toys in the cage.
  • When attaching your net to the ceiling, use deterrents to keep him from climbing up to the ceiling where damage could be done.  There are two good ways of doing this:    1)  Place a thick piece of PVC piping over the chain that you install your net to the ceiling with.  Make sure that the piping goes all the way from the ceiling down to, and covering, the rope loops, and is too thick in diameter for your species of bird to get a grip on to climb.  And 2)  Hang an over-sized toy from the ceiling that covers the chain.  While your bird can technically climb the toy, he is more likely to play with it and it is a distraction from the things you don’t want him to notice.  Make sure the net is hung low enough that the ceiling is out of reach.
  • If you are making a large net and working with long lengths of rope it might help to wrap some masking tape around the ends to keep them from fraying while you are working with it.

The first net you make will take more time than will subsequent nets – like the ones your friends will ask you to make for them when they see yours.

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29 Comments on “How To Make A Climbing Net For Your Parrot”

Yvonne  03/06/2010 5:41 pm

Thanks so much for this tutorial! I can’t wait to get started!

Katherine  03/21/2010 2:12 pm

Thank you, Patty. I made one very similar to this for my blue-front Amazon in 1992 and he almost wore it out. We have added rats to our family and I wanted to make another one for them. So glad your pattern and instructions were so easy to find.

Eva  05/20/2010 9:57 pm

hey! i want to make one i foinally got the not haha! anyway what is a good rope company that has untreaterd rope that is safe for parrots? and what size do you think would be best for a sunconure? thanks!!

Patty  05/21/2010 8:41 pm

Yeah, the knot is a little complex – glad you got it. I would use 1/4″ rope, probably. It’s thicker than that when it’s unstretched, so that sounds about right. This is where I have gotten mine: Get something natural like jute or use cotton rope only. Never get rope from a hardware store. They are covered in bad chemicals!

Eva  05/26/2010 7:17 pm

ok thanks i ended up ordering 100 feet of 1/4 inch cotten rope from a bird toy store just to be abosoulutely positive it was safe and untreated

Patty  05/27/2010 11:46 am

Way to go Eva! Send a picture of the net when it’s done!

Eva  06/01/2010 5:22 pm

i will! except i dont know how to post. it just came today! it looked sortof thin but i think it will work. how big should i make it because i dont want it to be to big where i cant finish it or to small that i have a ton left over

Patty  06/01/2010 9:15 pm

Hi Eva,
I’m not really sure how much rope you will use to start, but you could always link smaller ones together till you get the size you’re looking for. Have fun! Post it on the facebook page.

Eva  06/13/2010 9:25 pm

hey again i finished it its about 3 feet by 2 feet i think skeeter really likes it we still have to hang it then i’ll get som pics 🙂

Patty  06/14/2010 7:50 pm

Hi Eva,
I can’t wait to see the pics!

Eva  06/19/2010 9:18 am

oh ya its hanged ill try to get you some pics soon 🙂 skeeter loves it! and its so easy like whnever i want him to have some play time but dont really want him bugging me i just put him up on his net and he plays on it for hours but he likes the tape the best on the edges (ya know to keep it from fraying) 🙂

Donald  11/01/2010 11:03 pm

Thank you for the tutorial. I have purchase some natural chemical free cotton rope and was about to begin making my net then I realized I didn’t know how to start! I understand how to make the knots at the intersection of the lines but I am confused by the statement “And how to incorporate the loops to attach it. This is actually your starting point and you will go on to make your net from these pieces:” I see the overhand knot and I see the 2 lengths one going left and one going down. How long are these lengths? what is meant by “Overhand loop at the corners = 24? of rope per loop” do i take a piece 24″ long and use 4 of these pieces to make the 4 corners? Confused on how the perimeter of the net is made. Hope you can help!


Patty  11/03/2010 12:12 am

Hi Donald,
The thing to keep in mind is that the loops on all corners are actually made from one single length of rope and that they take up a surprising amount of rope. If you were to use a smaller diameter of rope it would not take 24″ to make the corner loops. Lengths of rope are the woven in both horizontally and vertically. How much rope you need to make a net depends on how big you want it to be. Just know that it takes a lot more than you would think because the know use SO much of the length up. If your want to get a feel for it, buy some cheap clothes line and make a practice run through the tutorial before you spend any real money on good rope for the bird. I hope this answers your questions. Send us a picture when you’re through.

jen  12/20/2010 8:15 pm

thank you for this is was very easy to follow once i got the knot down ihave now made 2 dif sizes one for my conures and 1 for my macaw

Joe Arbogast  12/26/2010 12:29 pm

Great net — just make sure you are using bird-safe cotton rope — Superior or Supreme — regular cotton rope will get birds caught up in loose strands eventually. The Supreme/Superior will break apart and not get birds hung up by toes, feet or neck.

Patty  12/27/2010 12:14 am

Good tips Joe! Fray can be a danger. Regular cotton rope is also frequently treated with chemicals. Do make sure you get yours from a reputable supplier!

Beverly  05/05/2011 12:23 pm

The knots look simple enough, but where are the measurements to show how to start this project? Can you post step by step how to begin?

Tina Hartman  07/07/2011 11:51 pm

A parrot rescue who makes their own toys gave me a tip on bird safe cotton rope. LJO Leather Covington, IN 100% cotton rope 1/4″ x 25ft for $3.00


Jeff  03/02/2012 12:49 pm

Can you tell me wher I can get cotton rope that is untreated for this project. I have not been able to find and that I know is not treated.  05/25/2013 2:03 am

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Eveleen  11/01/2013 5:09 pm

Thank you, Thankyou, Thankyou. My “baby” CAG is still a twinkle in her father’s eye. I’m planning on and hoping for a weaned baby in March. She’ll not be my first bird, but will be my first CAG, and an only child. So I am reading, researching, planning etc. To offer her a perfect as possible home. My husband wants to participate, so he’s the one that asked how to make ine of these. I guess it’s kind of like knitting for the baby to be. Again, thank you.!

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Chris Green  10/28/2014 3:00 am

I want to make a six by three feet net for my African Grey, I would like to use manila rope. What diameter and how much should I purchase to make this net?

foxe  02/24/2015 1:30 am

I know this is an old post, but still, I wanted to thank you! It took a few times, but I’ve gotten the hang of the knot. I’m almost done with a small net (smaller than the one in this tutorial, actually) for my little parrotlet.

Jo Murch  03/25/2015 3:05 pm

I got some sisal rope,intending to do this, but when I used a piece of it to hang a toy, the bird actually chewed completely through the rope before I got the knots tied! Back to the supply list!

David  04/22/2015 5:36 pm

Awesome!!! I think I’m going to challenge myself in doing one of these for my CAG (LeLune) Thanks.


Nathan Dalton  08/05/2016 9:26 am

Great article. I’ve been reading around and some forums related to vet cautions is that many rope fibers (especially cotton) are dangerous as they ingested over time and sit in the gut and build up. Have u every experienced or heard of this?