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Getting Bit Is Just Part of Caring for Parrots, Right?

Rebecca K. O'Connor | Feb 11, 2008



There are many reasons that a parrot might bite. Some may not be as predictable or make as much sense to us as others, but the one thing you can count on is that repetitive biting is rewarding to the parrot somehow. This means that parrots bite because it gets them something they want. It also means that if you can figure out what your parrot gets from the biting behavior, then you can lessen the behavior or quite possibly put a stop to it.

If you reach in your parrot's cage to pick him up and he doesn't want to come out he may retreat to the back of the cage or turn his back to you. If you persist, even though he's tried to let you know he doesn't want to go with you, then he may resort to biting you. If he bites you and you leave him alone, he may have an "ah ha" moment. "Ah ha! If I want her to know that I don't want to come out, all I have to do is bite her!" He may stop retreating, turning his back on you or any other variety of more acceptable behaviors that mean "no" and go straight for the bite in the future. Why not? It's the only thing you seem to understand.

Shouldn't you just take the bite and pretend like it doesn't hurt so your parrot doesn't get what he wants? Absolutely not! You don't deserve to get bit. How can you have a great relationship with your bird if you're afraid one on one time will lead to bloodletting? How can your parrot trust you and enjoy your company if he might get dropped, yelled at or worse? Instead, you both need to learn to have a conversation with each other that doesn't involve biting.

So what do you do?

Learn to read and be respectful of your parrot's body language. No means no. Respect that.

Find ways to get your parrot to say "yes." Make what you're asking worth your parrot's while. Offer a treat, time out on the play stand, some cuddle time or whatever your parrot really enjoys.

Don't get bit. Biting begets biting because it almost always rewarding. A behavior that is rewarding will repeat itself.

More positive communicating. Less biting. It's a great way to thing to strive for in all our relationships!