African greys will bite. If you handle them properly and are careful of their training, then biting should be a minimal issue. They are generally friendly and gentle animals that don’t have a natural inclination to bite. That said, if they are driven to it, then biting can be a real problem because they are so big.
Like any animal, African greys tend to lash out if they feel threatened, if they are under constant stress, and in general if they are just unhappy.
Owning a parrot is a big commitment that requires a lot of time, attention, and patience.
If you are inexperienced and don’t take on board the right lessons, then your African grey may well end up biting you and others.
Let’s find out more.
Will African greys bite?
African greys can and will bite for any number of reasons.
As a parrot owner, you take on a lot of responsibility.
Parrots are very different to other pets, and thus it’s really important that you have a full understanding of what you are getting into before you buy a parrot.
For one thing, what you’ve got to remember about parrots in general is that they are not domesticated animals.
They are tamed individually when they are born.
Dogs and cats, on the other hand, are fully domesticated species, and while they still need training, they are naturally used to being around humans.
Parrots are not, and so their care and training requires a lot more attention.
Further, their emotions tend to be more difficult to understand, and so you need experience and expertise in order to know how to react to problems that may arise with your African grey.
Advice and help are always important, but there is no substitute for experience.
All of this is to say that if your African parrot does not have all of its rather subtle needs catered to, then biting is the kind of behavior you can expect to see from it.
Any African grey will take time to form a bond with you, so at first no matter how well you train it, there may be one or two cases of biting.
Beyond that, though, biting should not be a common behavior and you should understand and respect its boundaries and its wishes.
Are these bites painful?
Do African grey bites hurt?
African greys are large animals with sharp, powerful beaks, so yes, African grey bites will hurt a great deal if they really get you.
Again, it can depend on many things.
An African grey might bite you harder or softer depending on why it is doing it in the first place, but it is certainly capable of biting you hard enough to break the skin and even do permanent damage to nerves and blood vessels.
Don’t underestimate these creatures, then.
They are more than capable of biting you hard enough to really hurt you, though again they will only do in certain circumstances.
African greys can also bite you playfully, gently nipping simply as a way of initiating physical touch.
Naturally, their beaks are their main extremity for touching and manipulating their environment, so they will tend to use their beak rather than their claws to touch you.
So, the all-important question—why do they bite in the first place?
Why do African greys bite?
There are many reasons an African grey might bite you.
In general, no matter how well trained and used to you your African grey is, it can still end up feeling threatened for one reason or another.
As social as they are, and as important as it is to spend lots of time with them, they do still need to be given their own space.
If they feel claustrophobic, this can lead to instinctive and aggressive lashing out, such as biting.
In general, feeling threatened is usually why they bite.
It’s important to stress their boundaries with anyone who might be interacting with the parrot, especially children.
Being fearful will often lead to biting and they can easily be made to feel fearful.
On the other hand, there may be seasonal issues that cause biting.
Hormones can cause them to go into a biting mood, where previously they may have been perfectly gentle.
As they go through adolescence, their hormones can lead to biting and increased aggression.
Equally, sometimes they can become more territorial and this can lead to biting.
If your African grey has not been raised with other birds, for instance, introducing them at a later date can cause the African grey to become very territorial and aggressive because it feels its living space is being threatened or taken over.
Other reasons they might bite you include simply trying to get your attention.
They could be in pain and attempting to communicate that to you.
Are African greys aggressive?
African greys are not inherently aggressive, though again the question of proper training is a really vital one.
A feral African grey will be very aggressive if you try to keep it in your home, so you’ve got to be sure that, one, you make sure to buy any chicks from reliable and reputable breeders, and two, that you know exactly what you are getting into in terms of the care they need.
African greys certainly have the capacity for extreme aggression if they feel they are pushed to it.
Fear can be a big cause of aggression.
If there is something in their environment that is consistently scaring them, they get stuck in cycles of trying to escape and being unable to, becoming more aggressive.
This can have a lasting effect, too, so again it’s really vital that you understand what your parrot needs.
Are African greys good for beginners?
African greys really are not a good choice of parrot for beginner owners.
They are highly complex social birds that require an awful lot of care, attention, stimulation and socialization.
Furthermore, if only because of their sheer size, they become a lot more difficult to manage when things go wrong.
If you don’t have any experience with parrots, then an African grey is probably not the best option for you.
Raising parrots is never easy, but African greys present a much bigger problem if they become aggressive due to your lack of knowledge and experience.
Most owners of African greys either have a great deal of professional advice and help or many years of experience with raising parrots in the first place.
How do you punish an African grey for biting?
Firstly, you need to try to understand what is causing the biting.
Your immediate reaction to biting should be simply to end the interaction and place the parrot back in its cage.
If your parrot is aggressively biting you, then you are likely to only exacerbate the problem if you continue the interaction.
End the interaction and give it time to cool off—it will also understand this inherently as punishment.
But you need to understand the underlying issue to be able to address it properly in the long term.
On the other hand, reward them for any behavior that doesn not result in biting.
Have treats and a clicker for training and when they behave in the way you want, treat them.
They will come to associate the treats with good behavior.
Can an African grey be left alone?
It can depend on the individual, but no African grey should be regularly left alone for long periods of time.
Around 8 hours is the maximum, and even this will be too long for many individual African greys.
Again, it’s a big undertaking, owning an African grey, and you need to be prepared to spend hours with them every day socializing with them.
A poorly socialized African grey will be stressed, bored, and even depressed, and any one of these factors can lead to biting and aggression.
Parrots are animals that tend to bite if they aren’t getting the care they need.
You can easily prevent this by doing the proper research and making sure that you are armed with all the knowledge you need to understand your bird’s behavior before you embark on the journey of raising one.
It’s also a question of the breeder you buy the bird from, since they will be the ones to initially tame it.
After, though, it is your responsibility to ensure you are taking the proper care of the bird to make sure it doesn’t want to bite you.