Your bird is your friend, your companion, your buddy. You treat your bird well, but then all of a sudden they bite you. Read on to discover why do parrots bite you, how to stop this and the treatments to prevent infection.
Why Is My Parrot Biting Me All Of A Sudden?
Birds will rarely just start biting you out of the blue, there’s usually a reason why they are behaving this way and so understanding this can help to prevent the bite. These reasons include:
- You’ve invaded the bird’s personal space when it didn’t want you to.
- The parrot is just playing around and bites you when it became too excited.
- Incorrect training and improper reinforcement may have encouraged your bird to bite you over the years.
- They might bite you when it gets jealous of another bird or family member.
- If you’re holding the bird and not paying attention to it then the bird may give you a nip because it wants your attention.
- Or on the flipside, if the bird is in its cage and is moving away from you then it might bite you because it wants to be left alone.
- If there are any eggs or chicks in the cage, then the bird is likely to become defensive if you go near these.
- You may be wearing a new piece of clothing such as a hat which the bird is unfamiliar with and this can cause fear in the bird.
- Biting may occur due to hormonal changes during a bird’s breeding season.
A bird will usually provide you with a few warning signs before the bite. Learning these signs listed below will help you to avoid an incoming bite:
Noises and Screaming
Making itself look bigger
Flapping wings and flaring tail feathers
Flying or moving away from you
Often accompanied with extending its neck forward ready to bite you.
Warning squawks, screeching and hissing are sounds intended to keep you away. Understand what the different types of sound mean in our full article on parrot sounds and noise.
This includes the bird spreading its wings, standing upright and puffing up its feathers to appear as big as possible.
This can also be a sign that the bird is becoming aggressive and you should stay away.
Indicates a heightened emotional state.
Hiding in the corner of a cage or underneath an object.
May indicate the bird is very scared.
Keep in mind that some of the behaviors listed above a completely normal on their own. For example, a bird stretching its wings may be relaxing and simply needs to stretch. So take the context of what is happening around the bird into account. However, when many of these signs are combined together, then there’s a greater chance that your bird is going to bite you.
Learn more about understanding bird body language here.
How To Stop A Bird From Biting in 7 Steps
When a bird bites its owner, a common mistake is for you to shout at the bird and say “Bad Bird” or “Don’t bite”. This might seem like the correct response but it isn’t. When you do this, the bird may interpret the loud sound and attention positively. Therefore you can be reinforcing this bad behavior. Instead, the correct way to stop parrot biting is as follows:
- The bird bites you.
- Try your hardest not to make a sound (even if it is painful).
- Place the bird back down on its perch.
- Walk away and ignore the bird for a period of time.
- After the time out, return to the bird.
- Pick up the bird and start giving it attention again.
- Repeat these steps. Each time the bird bites, place the bird down and ignore the bird for a period of time.
This process is similar to a parent giving a child “time out” when it has behaved badly.
Additionally, consider getting yourself a pair of bird handling gloves if the issue is severe with your bird.
Plus, if you’re about to do an activity that you know a bird doesn’t like (and so might be getting ready to bite you), then the trick here is to provide distractions. This can include giving the bird a toy to distract it during handling or providing it with food in its mouth. Also, if you see your bird is about to bite then tilting your hand so the bird is off-balance can also prevent a bite from happening.
Parrot Bite Force
There is not too much scientific research into how much power a parrot’s beak can generate. But of the research available, studies at the Wiley Online Library indicate that a monk parakeet has a beak capable of generating a bite force of 16.74 Newtons. Considering that a monk parakeet is one of the smaller sized pet parrots available, you would expect larger parrots such as macaws, to have a bite force that is many times the amount the monk parakeet can generate.
Parrot Bite Treatments
It is possible to incur an injury to your hands or face when handling parrots despite your best efforts in training and caution. Smaller parrots species are only likely to generate a small cut or wound. Larger birds might be capable of generating deeper wounds that may require stitches and in rare cases, they may even fracture bones. A visit to the doctor will be required if this occurs.
Proper hygiene is the first course of action for all bird bites that draw blood. Wash the area well and apply an antiseptic ointment.
Can Bird Bites Cause Infections?
Most parrot bites won’t draw blood and so will not cause infection. Generally, a parrot bite is not something to worry about. However, the chances of infection are much higher if you are bitten by a wild parrot vs a pet bird.
There is a small possibility of a bite becoming infected with parrot flu or psittacosis. If you start exhibiting flu-like symptoms after being bitten then book yourself in to see the doctor.
Treatment for parrot flu is fairly straightforward and your doctor will be able to provide you with a course of antibiotics such as doxycycline or tetracycline. According to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, parrot flu results in symptoms of atypical pneumonia in humans. It is transmitted from infected birds which may show no visible signs of the disease and can be spread due to biting. Again, if you think you have been exposed in this manner see a doctor.
Post Updated: 2019-08-22
Erica B. says
Thanks for valuable info. My Orange-Winged Amazon screeches a LOT! Mostly in response to my not being in his field of view. No good if you have a life or are married. What to do to redirect him??
Jack Taylor says
I recommend you check out our article on parrot screaming here.