Have you ever returned home from work, only to find out that the room you organized and tidied up – before you left – is a complete mess now? If you’re a parrot owner, you’ll relate to this for sure.
Keeping a parrot can be a daunting task. Many people think that parrots are low maintenance pets, but little do they know about the mess they can make – chewing papers, creating holes in the furniture and making noise are just some of the behaviors used by parrots to adapt to their surroundings, and also express how they feel.
We know it can be a little overwhelming at times, but you cannot stop birds from doing these things. It’s in a bird’s nature to destroy whatever it can reach. What you can do is at least try to train them in such a way that they understand this is not good, and in order to do so, you must understand why birds – specifically parrots – like to bite or chew.
Reasons Why Parrots Bite or Chew
In the last paragraph, we discussed that biting is a part of the bird’s nature. However, it must be noted that most of the times, there are some underlying causes of frequent biting. These are as follows:
- We can trigger such behavior in them. You must be wondering how? Well, this happens in two ways: by approaching them when we are stressed, or using our hands to scare them when they do something wrong.
- Birds can sense when we’re nervous and stressed, and if we bring them closer to us in such a condition, they become afraid, too. Since they don’t have much time to process this information, they quickly respond with a bite. This may sound absurd, but that’s how their minds work. Shaking is another sign for a nervous or stressed bird – more on that here!
- Apart from this, when we use our hands to punish our parrots or shoo them away by tossing an object on them using our hands, they become scared. As a result, the next time we approach them, they are not sure about whether we’re approaching them in a friendly manner, or to punish them – and they end up biting us.
- One of the most common reasons for biting is that the parrot is hormonal. Like every other creature on this planet, parrots have needs too and when they’re not fulfilled, they tend to become frustrated. This is usually the case in the breeding season. Parrots that are most affected by this are Amazons, Macaws, and Cockatoos.
- They don’t like what we are doing. This is pretty simple to understand. When someone touches us and we don’t like it, we immediately express our dislikeness and tell the person to stop. Similarly, when animals don’t like what we’re doing, they express their dislikeness by biting us, since they can’t speak. This is the primary reason why any animal bites us. Actions that may trigger such behavior include poking them or touching them at the wrong places.
- They’re showing a territorial behavior. Every animal is protective of its habitat and offspring. When it comes to parrots, they have a protective nature because they have to protect their nests and little ones from big animals in the wild. Therefore, they may bite when they sense that someone is trying to harm them or their nest.
- It is self-defense. This is usually the case with abused or unsocialized birds. Because people might have used their hands to hit them in the past, they now think that hands are something to be afraid of. It can be extremely difficult to deal with such birds, as it takes a lot of time and effort to gain their trust.
- Exotic parrot breeds, such as Macaw and Cockatoo, are smuggled from one country to another and this experience can terrorize them. Thus, such parrots are more likely to show defensive behavior.
- Parrots may bite when they are tired, injured or ill. Like other birds, parrots need at least 12 hours of quietness and darkness (without any disturbance) in order to be fully rested. Otherwise, they become cranky and start biting. Similarly, an injured or ill parrot may also bite if you mishandle it even a bit. This is because parrots are usually small, delicate creatures and you have to use your whole hand to pick them up. During this process, you may touch their wound, which can hurt even more.
- They want something. Parrots cannot speak unless you train them, so their only way of expressing themselves is through biting. Sometimes, we may be unable to figure that they want something – most probably food – and thus they may bite to let us know.
- When parrots do not get enough stimulation, they can easily become bored or frustrated. Since these birds have high intelligence, they may experience psychological disorders similar to humans like depression and anxiety. To cope with such emotions, parrots resort to chewing and destroying. If left untreated, these behaviors may lead to serious issues like extreme aggression and self-harming. To learn more, you should read our article about why parrots shouldn’t be left alone here!
What You Should NOT Do to Stop Your Parrot from Biting or Chewing
Once you’ve identified the reason behind your parrot’s constant biting or chewing, the next step is to take appropriate measures to stop your parrot from doing so.
But before we go onto that, we must first rule out all the ways that do not help in dealing with this problem.
Giving the Bird a Confinement Period
Many people tend to think that giving the parrot a “time out”, or putting it in confinement, will work. This is not the case. Behaviorists labeled this argument as flawed since the beginning.
This is because if this was to actually work, then humans who go to prison and stay in confinement, would not commit crimes again.
Plus, if time out was an effective punishment, you’d only have to use it once – not repeatedly because if something didn’t work the first time, what are the chances that it’ll work this time?
The chances are that rather than solving the problem, giving your parrot a confinement period will only make it more aggressive.
Clipping their Wings
According to some people, clipping your parrot’s wings is another solution. This way he won’t be able to fly here and there and destroy your furniture.
However, this is not the right approach. Parrots were given the ability to fly for many reasons – the most important ones being escaping from something which may cause them harm, or when they are startled.
This means that clipping your parrot’s wings will make them vulnerable, and expose them to all sorts of danger. In short, it will only make things worse.
Designating a Particular Room or Place for the Parrot
Another solution presented by people is designating a room for your parrots. Although this sounds like a great idea, as all the mess would be contained in one room, you must remember that even a closed room would feel like a cage to your parrots.
Moreover, parrots are loving and playful creatures who do their best when they’re around people and other parrots. Confining them to one separate room would make them stressed and upset. Your parrot will become detached, and you certainly don’t want that!
Using a Play Stand
Apart from this, using a play stand does not work wonders either. This is because naturally, birds were designed to fly and explore their surroundings.
You cannot force them to stay in one place all the time. Even if you are successful in doing so, you would decrease their physical movement and exercise – and this can be quite unhealthy for them.
Thus, you will have to allow them to move freely at least once during the day and who knows, they might attack your furniture at this time!
Here’s What You Should Do to Stop Your Parrot From Chewing Furniture
So, what exactly should you do to stop your parrots from destroying your home? Well, there are several ways to do that.
Treat them With Love and Care
The most important thing to do is start treating your parrot like a kid. Try to treat it with love, and just as you must supervise a toddler at all times, you must do the same with your parrot when it’s out of the cage.
Do not let him get out of your sight – as this can lead to destruction. Also, do not allow your parrot to access a piece of furniture that it has chewed already.
In fact, try to keep it away from wooden furniture as much as you can as this will teach your parrot that it is not supposed to chew furniture.
Distract them With Chewing Toys
Another thing you can do is distract your parrot as much as you can. You can do this by getting your parrot toys to chew and play with, playing with it yourself, or making it watch videos (if it likes that). This way, it won’t be much interested in the furniture.
Our personal favorites are
- Pineapple Foraging Toy from Planet Pleasures
- Bird Kabob Shreddable Bird Toy from Wesco Pet
- Wooden bird toys from Pure Natural
Wooden toys are definitely the best option, as they fulfill your parrot’s desire to chew on something or destroy it. They’re pretty cheap, too! You can check them out on Amazon.
We recommend that you order them in bulk as once your parrot gets used to them, it’ll be really hard to let go of these toys.
Accept the “Chewing” Aspect of their Behavior
Accept the fact that parrots are messy creatures and try to adjust as much as you can. This is because a parrot is an animal, and it won’t completely understand what’s right or wrong.
You can try to teach it, but at the same time, try to accept that this is how things are going to be. Remember that keeping pets is a big responsibility, and if you’re not ready to take it, then you shouldn’t keep pets in the first place.
Stay Positive and Cheerful When Around Your Parrot
Try to be happy and cheerful around your parrot. As we mentioned above, one of the major causes of parrots biting is that they feel negative vibes when they’re around you.
Thus, you should try to stay as positive as you can when you’re around your parrot. Parrots can understand our language really well so you can also try to talk to yours.
Also, do not use your hands to punish your parrot. If you do, it’ll start to think of you as it’s enemy, and will adopt a rebellious behavior, which includes chewing on furniture.
Regain Your Parrot’s Trust
In case of abused or unsocialized parrots, you’ll have to put in the extra effort. The first thing you need to do is to teach them that human hands are not always harmful.
As mentioned above, do not use your hands in a negative context; rather, use them to pet your parrot, and give it treats. Moreover, try to express your love by talking to it. This way you’ll be able to regain its trust.
Give Quality Time to Your Pet Bird
Give your pet time to socialize and play. As stated earlier, parrots do a lot better when they’re around other parrots and people.
Therefore, try to spare as much time as you can to play with your parrot and if you can’t manage, then let your parrot outside its cage for some time along with its toys. (You can also give your parrot some baby toys, as we show you here)
Parrots are adorable, loving creatures that will shower you with a lot of affection if you treat them right. If your parrot is being fussy or mischievous, try to figure out the root cause first and then take appropriate action.
Remember that every parrot has a different nature, so some of these suggestions might not work for your little baby. We recommend that before you get a parrot, read up about it – it’s nature, habits, etc – as much as you can. This way you’ll be mentally prepared for what’s to come.
Also, if you’re a first-time parrot owner, we suggest that you take advice from a professional (a bird vet) rather than trying out new things yourself. Experimentation is good – as it allows you to get to know your parrot better – but sometimes it makes matters worse.