There are so many things that are amazing about parrots.
Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are also intelligent and make excellent companions.
Unfortunately, though they are one of the most popular pets in America, they are also one of the most discarded pets in America.
This is because many people see the benefits of owning a parrot, but don’t actually take the time to research the potential downfalls of owning one.
Which leads us to an important question that you should know the answer to before buying a parrot – are parrots vicious?
The answer to this question depends on the individual parrot. Like humans, dogs, cats, and other animals, parrots all have their own personalities. I will start by saying this – all birds bite. If you own a parrot, there is a high likelihood that you will be bitten at some point in time – and it isn’t going to feel nice. With that being said, not all biting is considered aggressive or vicious. While some parrots can bite out of viciousness, others do it for other reasons like getting your attention.
Today we will dive deeper into the topic of viciousness in parrots, learning about:
The reasons why parrots bite
Why parrots become vicious
How to tame vicious biting behaviors
And so much more!
So lets not waste another minute:
Why do parrots bite?
Even when they are raised as companion birds, parrots still maintain their natural instincts.
One of those natural instincts – you guessed it – is to bite.
Biting is a natural behavior for birds and there are several different reasons that this behavior may come into play:
A baby parrot may bite when testing new things.
Human babies are known to put everything in their mouth.
That’s partially how they learn about their world, especially when teething.
Well, parrots don’t teeth but like babies, they also like to test everything with their mouths.
When doing so, they may lightly chew on your fingers.
This isn’t really considered “biting” and rarely is it ever hard enough to hurt, but the action mimics biting.
This of course, is not a sign of aggression – it’s simply a natural part of baby parrot behavior.
A parrot may bite out of fear
In the wild parrots are considered birds of prey.
This means that they have to be on constant alert to ensure that they are safe from predators.
In return, parrots are easily startled by new situations or people.
When they are startled, their natural reaction is to defend themselves.
In the wild, birds can defend themselves simply by flying away.
But when they are caged in our homes, they don’t have that same defense mechanism.
In return, they often react by biting.
Again, this is not out of aggression, it’s simply a natural defense response.
A Parrot may bite out of Possessiveness
Parrots tend to be extremely possessive of their chosen mate or owner.
Sometimes this possessiveness can extend to things within their cage or territory like their food or their toys.
In the wild, possessiveness is a good thing because it helps parrots to protect one another.
But in our homes, possessiveness can lead to aggressive behaviors like biting.
A Parrot may bite if they are in a bad mood
One of the things that draws people to parrots the most is their range of intelligence and emotions.
Just like humans, parrots have different moods.
These moods can change throughout the day and can depend on the situations around them.
How can you tell if a parrot is not happy?
Trust me – they will let you know.
Parrots may signal anger or other negative emotions by screaming, acting out, or biting.
Bad moods don’t necessarily mean you have an aggressive parrot, but they can result in aggressive behavior that should be tamed immediately.
Preening, climbing, and other natural behaviors
Parrots use their beaks for a wide variety of things.
They can use their beaks to help them climb, they can use their beaks to preen themselves (or you), and so on and so forth.
Often times these behaviors can look like biting, but are something completely different and unaggressive in nature.
Finally, yes, some parrots will bite completely out of aggression.
If your parrot is biting and you can’t place a finger on any of the reasons above, you may be dealing with an aggressive parrot.
But what causes a parrot to become aggressive?
What causes aggression in parrots?
Aggression and viciousness in parrots can be caused by numerous reasons and again, can differ from parrot to parrot.
Some parrots will become vicious out of territoriality or possessiveness (as discussed above).
Others can become aggressive from hormone fluctuations, specifically during breeding season or adolescence.
Other causes of aggression in parrots can include boredom, lack of stimulation, stress, and dominance.
How can you tame vicious/aggressive behaviors?
The best way to tame aggressive and vicious biting behaviors in parrots is to ignore them.
If your parrot is biting you, simply put it down and walk away.
Consider it similar to giving a toddler a time out.
Once the bird has calmed down, you can then try picking them up again.
If they bite, simply put them back down and walk away until the bird is ready to try again.
When your parrot is engaging in aggressive behavior, don’t yell at them.
While many people think this may discourage the behavior, quite the opposite is true.
Not only could yelling strike fear in your parrot, causing them to bite more, but yelling is a form of attention.
Many times when a bird is biting it’s to get your attention in some way.
And like a toddler, negative attention is better than no attention at all.
So by yelling at your parrot, you’re actually encouraging the negative behavior to continue.
Stay calm and walk away – you’ll have better results.
It’s also important to note that the sooner you tame this behavior, the better.
Ignore the behavior at the first sign of aggression.
The longer you allow the behavior to continue, the harder it will be to break.
Are there any ways to prevent aggressive and vicious behaviors?
You don’t want to get bit by a parrot – trust me, it hurts.
Even if your parrot is not aggressive, there’s still a high likelihood that you will get bit at one time or another.
The best way to prevent this from happening is by paying close attention to your parrots body language and predicting a bite before it happens.
How do you know if a parrot is getting ready to bite?
Here are some signs to look for:
In almost all cases, eye pinning is a sign of aggression.
If a parrot is staring at you and their iris is expanding and contracting, there’s a good chance they are getting ready to attack.
Move away and let the parrot have their space.
When a bird is frightened they often flatten their feathers as a way to make themselves “unnoticed”.
Though feather flattening doesn’t necessarily mean that a parrot is about to attack, it does usually mean that they are fearful.
As we learned previously, an attack could be the outcome.
Move away and let the parrot calm down.
When a parrot stands tall it can mean many different things.
This can be a sign of curiosity, excitement, or aggression.
If a parrot is standing tall and is displaying other signs on this list at the same time, it could be a sign for you to back off.
If a parrot is hissing or growling at you, it’s almost inevitably a sign of aggression.
Move away from the parrot to prevent being bitten.
Other signs of aggression in parrots:
By getting to know your parrots body language you can better predict when they are about to bite.
Move away and give your parrot space when they are about to do so, and come back when they are calm.
What should you do if you are bitten by your parrot?
Parrot bites should be treated similar to any other type of wound, but should be monitored carefully for infection.
If you have been bitten severely, seek medical attention immediately.
If the wound is minor, you can treat it at home by cleansing and disinfecting it thoroughly, applying an antibiotic ointment, and by keeping it covered and clean.
Keep a close eye on your wound, checking and cleaning it regularly.
If you notice any sign of infection, seek medical attention immediately.
In conclusion, parrots are like people and they each have their own personalities and moods.
While they aren’t typically considered a “vicious” species, they can display some aggressive behaviors depending on their mood and their situations.
The best way to handle aggressive behaviors is to prevent them.
But if you can’t prevent them, deal with them by ignoring them.
The sooner you can zap the behavior, the easier it will be to manage.