Ask Lafeber

Question:

August 22, 2022

Conure behavior


My small conure (about 6 years old) has been biting more recently. He will be a short distance away and comes over and bites my hand. Sometimes it will break the skin and sometimes not. It seems like he wants attention and this was a way of getting it. I put him in his cage and say calmly no biting and cover the cage for about 30 minutes. Any suggestions?


Answer:

Hi Peter,

Parrots do always have a reason for biting – but it’s up to us to figure it out! So your little guy is definitely at an age where his hormones are probably getting stronger. You are right to ignore the bite, however, he is still getting some attention up to the point that you cover the cage. So we need to look at what leads to the bite. Does he have free roam most of the day? Does he stay on a playgym or on top of the cage? Can he come and go from the cage at will? When this type behavior starts, it’s a good time to set some boundaries. When you have time for him, he can come out of the cage, and you handle him. If he is used to playing without you, then he needs to be where he can’t come over and bite you when he’s bored with entertaining himself. He can be on a stand, but keep the playtime short, then go and get him before he gets cross with you. If you let him come and go from the cage on his own, then it’s time to stop that. Establish that you get him out, then you place him on a play area, and when it’s time to be with you, or go back to the cage, you are in charge of that. Now keep in mind he is smart, so change things up. If he thinks every time you come to get him, it means time for the cage, this can result in biting. Pick him up from the play area, give him some attention, then make a point of getting a treat, placing it in his food cup, and then return him to the cage, giving him lots of praise. If he bites you instead, then no treat, just set him in the cage without saying anything to him, and walk away. Don’t go back to him until he is quiet and seems to be calm. Then try to take him out, give him a few minutes, try the treat and see if he goes back without biting. It’s also good to avoid hormonal triggers, so when you do handle him, avoid petting him anywhere except the head and neck. If you pet his body, this is a hormone trigger. Also don’t give him anything that can be used as a nest – no bird huts or tents, boxes, etc. I’m going to give you the links to our pages on bird behavior and training. While much of it may be a review, read all of it. Sometimes you need to be reminded of the basics to deal with a basic issue like biting.

Pet Bird and Parrot Behavior

Teaching Your Bird

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

 

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