I’m sorry, I hate to come across as the bad guy here and point fingers but I have to this time, after everything I learned. Biting is NOT an innate behavior, it is a taught behavior. So if your precious feathered friend has now starting biting on a regular. YOU REINFORCED IT! Don’t get me wrong, I have parrots who bite me too…. I’m currently working on actually analyzing the situations under which they bite and what antecedent/consequence can I use to curve that behavior to something else.
So I was taught (like I’m sure we all were) that biting was something to expect from our companion parrots, that it was a natural occurrence and we just have to accept it. I’m sure I have wrote this in many previous blogs. Well, now I am withdrawing any previous statements I made and declaring a new statement. BITING IS NOT NATURAL AND IT DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN WITH A COMPANION PARROT! Your probably sitting there saying what does this chick know? She has no real credentials. Well actually, I am currently training and getting the credentials I need to become a professional parrot behavior consultant. I’m being trained to use the science of ABA – Applied Behavior Analysis with animals. So I’m sharing with you what I know so you can take a different approach with your parrots and change what you may have labelled as an “aggressive, territorial, dominating, unfriendly” parrot. All those words are constructs and you know what they mean to me? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! That doesn’t explain what the parrot is doing and that ‘s what you need to do – observe the parrot.
You may be shocked to learn this but parrots in the wild, do not bite each other (if they aren’t fighting that is). It is not a part of their habits to do so. Yes they may play and use their beaks but not to the point where they will draw blood. Your reaction to that first bite is what was an “Ah ha!” for your birdie and from there the cycle started and continued. So now that it has started, how do you make it stop? You have a few options….
1) You learn how to read your bird’s body language so you can prevent it from happening again.
2) You change your current approach to avoid putting the bird in a situation to make it happen again. There is a saying that goes: “Prevention is better than cure”. In this case that saying is very relevant!
3) You find a means of distraction. So when the parrot is going to bite, find a distraction tool that will work to take his/her attention away from biting you.
4) Find a behavior that you would prefer the parrot to do instead of biting.
What I find amusing is that there are so many articles, videos on youtube and people stating “How to stop your parrot from biting“. How can they state that if they don’t know the reason your parrot is biting? Yes, of course they can give you suggestions but unless you’ve analyzed the situation and found the reason for the bite and the consequence it is presenting your current parrot, how can you stop it? If you are really lost as to why your parrot is biting then I would suggest maybe hiring a behavioral consultant or a trainer basically just getting professional help. If you can’t afford to get professional help although I think I’m pretty cheap hahaha, I would say just look at the setting, for example… Under what circumstances is the parrot biting and what is your reaction when it does bite? What is it getting by biting you? Once you answer those questions then maybe you can find alternatives to maneuver around it. Once a bad habit has been taught, it’s always harder to undo it but it is possible.
Things to consider why your parrot might be biting you or others is: Protecting something it considers to be valuable – It’s cage, it’s partner/owner, it’s toys etc. It could be out of fear – You’ve ignored all the signs it has tried to send your way so it feels forced to be more aggressive. Also like I have previously mentioned, out of habit. It has now become a taught behavior and the bird likes the response so it continues to do it.
Okay, now that I made you feel like the worse Parrot parent ever! (Don’t worry I felt the same way at first) How can you try fixing the situation? Well I did give suggestions above but one thing that needs work now, is your TRUST level with the parrot. You guys need to work on your bond. You need to learn to respect your parrot and not force him/her to do anything they don’t want to do. Basically you need to learn to listen and read your parrot’s body language. Also, positive reinforcement will really help in this situation.
I’m thinking of doing an e-course on trust building exercises, if that would be something you’re interested in please leave me a comment below this post or email me so I know it is something I should put together as there is a demand for it.