We know for sure that parrots can drive you, your family, and even your neighbors insane. But can they go insane themselves? There are stories of suicidal dolphins, anxious gorillas, and depressed dogs because their owners died or went to work far away. But how about parrots and their feather-plucking behavior or non-stop screaming, do they also suffer mental breakdown? And if they do, how can you tell? If they don’t, why do they sometimes show so abnormal, completely insane behaviors? Stay with us as we try to answer those questions and many more in this article.
To answer the question, can parrots go insane? The answer is yes they can. This is because they often do not do well in cages or captivity, so some species of parrot can go insane.
This phenomenon is usually followed by the development of some unusual behaviors such as screaming and swaying or they become riddled with extreme fear. They can also begin feather-plucking and self-mutilation, although this is usually not common.
Before a pet parrot goes insane, it will first show the signs of unhappiness. So as an owner, you need to be on the lookout all the time, though some of the signs will be far from subtle.
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What are the signs of an unhappy parrot?
There are many signs that show that your parrot is unhappy or stressed and about to go nuts. Some of them include:
Though many parrot owners sometimes misconstrue bird’s biting as simply an act of aggression, most of the time this behavior signals stress and fear. Parrots and birds, in general, will regularly bite and swing in a bid to protect themselves when they feel scared. In some instances, biting in parrots could also be a sign of discomfort or pain, so if you witness this in your bird, you should have it have a veterinary examination before things escalate.
Parrots usually make loud noises. But, a sudden increase in this behavior along with screeching may signal that your bird is unhappy, stressed, or anxious. Screaming, just like biting, can also mean that your parrot is in discomfort or pain, so you may also want to have it checked by your avian vet to ensure there are no underlying medical issues.
This is perhaps the final stage between unhappiness and insanity. Most parrots when extremely stressed will go beyond the normal feather-plucking and start chewing on their skin and even in severe cases, dig deeper into body muscles and bones, causing extreme trauma. If your parrot exhibits this behavior, make sure you take it to the vet immediately so that it can be put on ant-psychotic medication and even if needed, fitted with an Elizabethan collar to prevent further damages as your vet tries to figure out the cause of the problem.
- Feather plucking
Feather plucking is rather a common behavior in parrots that tend to manifest boredom or stress, more so in larger birds such as the cockatoos, African grey, and Eclectus, but this behavior can also be seen in smaller species like lovebirds and Quakers parrots. Most of the time, the bird could exhibit this behavior in response to an external disturbance like loud noise and will continue to pluck their feathers even after the initiating stimulus has left. Feather-plucking parrots should have some complete medical examination, such as blood testing, to dispel any underlying health concerns.
- Stereotypical behaviors
Some parrot species such as the cockatoos, will manifest stress in the form of stereotypical behavior, including but not limited to toe-tapping, pacing, and head swinging. Mostly, a parrot will exhibit these conditions to excite themselves as a result of boredom. While typically these behaviors are not hurtful, they can be a telling sign that your parrot is not happy, and you should give it some attention before things get out of hand.
What circumstances may lead to parrots becoming stressed or going insane?
A number of things can make your parrot go crazy, the most common one is staying in a cage for too long. Also, many parrot species, more so the extremely intelligent and social ones such as African Greys and cockatoos, tend to require a great deal of attention from their owners, and the minute they feel they are being ignored, that is when the craziness kicks in. They will become stressed and start screaming, feather picking, and even self-mutilating.
Every so often, environmental changes like a move to a new home, loud noises, new pets, or even minor changes such as a change in the location of the parrot’s cage or even a change in color of the walls can upset or stress out your bird. Also, a change in the daily routine of the parrot such as a shift in feeding or playing time can upset a parrot.
Indoor parrots may also be frazzled from the sound or sight of unacquainted wild animals like raccoons or hawks outside the window.
Another thing that can cause a parrot to go berserk is a change in the light cycle, especially when the cage I moved to a dark place or is covered abruptly with a blanket.
If a parrot has lost its partner, it may take some time to get over it, and in the process, grieve to insanity. So make sure you exercise some patience and if things don’t get better after a few weeks, take him to the vet.
Generally, anything that alters parrot’s routines can throw it off, since they are creatures of habit.
Can long-term stress lead a parrot to insanity?
Unhappiness and chronic stress can have a lasting effect on both the mental and physical health of your parrot, just as it does in humans.
What are the normal parrot behaviors not to mistake with craziness?
Not all unusual parrot behaviors signify underlying mental problems. Here are the normal parrot behaviors that shouldn’t worry you.
Beak grinding: This behavior is common in most healthy parrots when they want to drift off to sleep. While there is no definite explanation of why they do this, it is absolutely a normal behavior and is a sign of being comfortable and content.
Preening: Parrots peen regularly throughout the day as a cleaning routine. There is nothing wrong with preening until the parrot begins actually pluck and chewing out feathers.
Playing: parrots can also become playful, just like kids. When they don’t have something to do, birds will keep themselves busy by playing, sometimes strangely.
Regurgitating: This occurs when a mature bird brings up some partially digested food to feed the young ones. Sometimes a parrot will regurgitate on you if you share a close bond. While it may sound off-putting, it is actually a sweet gesture and no need for you to be worried.
Freezing in place: This may sound insane, but parrots may sometimes freeze in place when afraid. This is a habit picked in the wild since most predators’ eyes pick up the only movement, and have a difficult time distinguishing inert objects.
Aggression: Sometimes aggression is absolutely normal in parrots. This is because aggression is also caused by hormonal changes, especially in the spring. During this phase, the parrot may become territorial and guard everything it considers its. Others may dislike a certain way you handle them, or even act out jealously. Nevertheless, aggression is usually easy to quell.
Begging: Some parrots may also sometimes revert to resort to begging behavior like petulant babies, to get whatever they want, more so if it is something that has worked before. This may include crouching, scrunching its wings up, nodding the head, and producing some chick noises. This is normal and does not mean that your bird has gone insane. You can discourage this behavior by not tolerating it.
Talking and whistling: Most parrot species can learn to mimic sound while others can even learn how to speak selective words, so if you hear some unintelligible speech from your parrot, it does not mean it is going cuckoo.
Hissing and growling: This is also one of the most common sounds produced by parrots when they feel scared or threatened especially African greys and cockatiels.
What to do when a parrot goes crazy
Most of the time, the solution to parrot’s insanity is to get it out of the cage. Some parrot species don’t do well in captivity and can go insane if confined for long periods of time. if you begin to see some unusual behaviors, just set them free and allow them to fly around in the house (make sure your house is parrot-proof though).
On the same note, make sure your bird has plenty of toys to play with to prevent boredom. Also, make sure you replace the toys after a few weeks to give your bird some adequate mental stimulation to beat depression, which may lead to insanity.
Before you go any further with your parrot, be sure to rule out any physical problems such as an infection, a disease, or an allergy, then try to calm him down and if thigs persist, see an avian vet.
According to many avian experts, mental distress in parrots is more often than not a function of captivity.