Ask Lafeber

Question:

February 9, 2021

Parakeet Biting


I’ve had my male parakeet (Pico) for 9 months. He keeps biting me, nearly breaking the skin. He’s aggressive with his toys as well. If I feed him a treat, he takes a bite and then bites me hard. He likes to sit on my shoulder, but then bites my jaw. Does he think he’s feeding or kissing me? I’ve previously had parakeets without this problem. I’m actually afraid of this little guy.


Answer:

Hi Rae,

I’m sorry to hear that Pico is such a challenge. And I don’t blame you for being afraid of him. The little guys can inflict a painful bite – often more painful than from a large parrot. Each bird has his own personality and Pico sounds like an active little guy. Are you sure Pico is a male? I only ask because the females are more known for this type behavior. But the males can be like this, too. The best thing to do is go back to the basics with taming and training. If possible, I would recommend having his wings trimmed. This can humble a bird and give you a better chance at taming him and bonding with him. The feathers will grow back once he molts the cut feathers, and then maybe you will have a better bond with him. Always remember that birds respond best to positive reinforcement. Basically reward good behavior and ignore unwanted behavior. Is Pico allowed to come in and out of his cage on his own? This can make a bird feel more independent and not as tame. Pico needs to learn to trust you and understand that he needs you in order to come out of his cage and interact. I also would recommend not allowing him on your shoulder. This puts him in a position of being dominant, and it is hard for you to know what he is doing or even get him off of your shoulder. They run to the other shoulder or find that spot in between where it is hard to reach him. Parakeets are very smart! You might try to stick train him, as this can make it easier to get a nippy bird in and out of the cage. You can also find ways to divert him when he is about to bite. Find a toy for him instead, or a treat. When offering a treat, pull your hand back once he has it, or he might view your hand as a threat to take his treat away from him. If there are other people in the house, is there someone else he likes or dislikes? Some birds bite the owner when they really want to bite someone else, but they can’t reach that person. This is related to a wild behavior where a bird will bite at the mate if another bird approaches, driving the mate behind him or back to the nest so the rival bird can’t see her. Is there a pet that he might not like? Always look at your surroundings to see if something might be disturbing your bird. I’m going to give you a link to our taming, training and behavior information. You might also want to attend our Free Friday webinar this week – we will have Chris Davis, and she will be taking behavior questions from the viewers. I will include that link, too. There is hope for Pico – just take things slowly and be patient. It takes time to figure some birds out.

Teaching Your Bird

Pet Bird and Parrot Behavior

Webinar: Heart to Heart: Pet Bird Behavior Q&A with Chris Davis

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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