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Question:

September 21, 2017

HELP! My baby is biting!


Hello! So I actually just got my first Quaker parrot a little over a month ago. And we have bonded very quickly! He’s not entirely comfortable with being pet yet, but he’s very loving and chatty and whenever I leave the room he’ll call out for me to make sure I’m okay! He’s not happy unless he spends at least a couple hours on my shoulder or in the same room as me. I generally wake up at 11 and the first thing I do is let him out of his cage and he’s out until bedtime, which is either 10 or 11. He’s basically spoiled and needs for nothing. A couple of days ago I noticed he started molting and I was very excited, but nervous to see how things may change for the time being.

Sadly, he’s started biting me! At first it was just gentle nibbles on my ear and then it would progress to curiosity about my mole on my neck. I didn’t stop him from messing with it because he was quite gentle. Then he ripped a chunk of it off and I yelped and immediately put him back on his perch. Since then though, he’ll still let me pick him up and hold him like normal and chatter with me, but he will bite me EVERYWHERE to the point that I’m bleeding. He does tiny little sharp nicks. He seems to be getting sad because I’m not holding him as much, but I don’t think I can loose anymore blood! He’s still sweet and not grouchy, which is why I’m not 100% sure it’s because he’s molting

Can someone give me a little bit of insight into this behavior and some way for me to combat it before it becomes a naughty habit??! Thank you!


Answer:

Hi Brittney,

You are taking great care of your little guy, but it sounds like he might have a bit too much freedom. I am also not a fan of having birds on shoulders, as it puts them in a position where you can’t read their body language and they seem to be more likely to bite.

I would go back to basics. Only get him out of the cage when you can handle him and supervise him. As long as he has a large cage and plenty of toys, it won’t hurt for him to spend more time in it. If you feed him foraging diets like our diets, this will also give him something to do. In the wild he would spend most of his day foraging for food. When we just give them a bowl of seeds or pellets, they bird has no challenge. Our diets provide foraging exercise, while also providing the same nutrition as a pelleted diet. Additionally, they work well to put inside many toys or hide around the cage. You can also offer fresh fruits and veggies, and try to offer these as a foraging food, such as on a skewer toy or fastened to the side of the cage.

When you let a bird stay out all day on their cage, and go in and out freely, at some point he realizes he doesn’t need you as much. He needs to depend on you for play time and out of the cage time.

If he is a young bird, he may also be going through a teething period. This is normal, and what you can do is offer a diversion like a toy or piece of food to chew on instead of you. If he keeps biting hard, put him back in the cage. But do any of this without a lot of drama. Find a word, like be careful or gentle and use the same word each time. Putting him back on the perch is almost a reward – he needs to go back in the cage so he understands he gets to come out when he is being nice.

Birds also groom their owners like another bird, and will nibble or try to remove any skin flaw. Again, diversion is the best way to address this unless it is an outright bite.

I’m going to give you some links to read to help you better understand his body language and warning signs of biting, as well as some ways to work with him to stop this behavior. Read these and refer to these when a problem comes up and this will help you stop bad behavior before it gets out of control.

Pet Bird and Parrot Behavior

Teaching Your Bird

Bird Foraging and Play

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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