A parrot’s comfort level with being touched by people can vary from parrot to parrot and can depend on who is touching them.
A parrot who is comfortable being held by their owner, for example, may not be as comfortable being held by a stranger.
Think about it. In the wild, parrots are constantly having to watch their backs for predators.
Even though you might not be a predator, this instinctual behavior is ingrained into your parrots behavior – even if they don’t need to feel threatened.
There are some places on a parrot that are safer to touch than others.
This leads us to the question – where do parrots like to be touched?
If a parrot has been trained that touch is okay, there are some places that they preferred to be touched over others. The head is the best place to pet your parrot. Most parrots will tolerate being touched on the head or the beak. With that being said, if your parrot has not been trained to be touched, the beak might not be the safest place to start! Most parrots also don’t mind being touched on the feet. Touching your parrot anywhere below the neck is not recommended and can lead to frustration on behalf of your parrot.
Why shouldn’t you touch your parrot on the body?
How can you train your parrot to feel comfortable with touch?
What should you do if your parrot doesn’t like to be touched?
Today we will touch on all of these topics and more so let’s not waste another minute!
- 1 Why shouldn’t you touch a parrot on the body?
- 2 How do I know if my parrot likes to be touched?
- 3 What should I do if my parrot doesn’t like to be touched at all?
- 4 Are there any safety tips for handling a parrot?
- 5 Can I let children pet my bird?
Why shouldn’t you touch a parrot on the body?
To a parrot any touching aside from on the head or feet is a sign of a sexual advance.
To humans, touch can be a sign of love and affection.
To a parrot, however, it is a sign that you are initiating sex.
For some parrots this isn’t a problem, but to others it can be extremely frustrating.
In some cases, touching below the neck can result in hormonal attacks.
This is why it is extremely important to inform anyone that is coming near your parrot where they can touch them appropriately and where it is inappropriate to touch.
If you notice that your parrot is acting in any of the following ways, stop touch immediately.
Any of the following can be a sign that your parrot is sexually stimulated and that a hormonal attack could result:
Your parrot bobs his head to start regurgitating
Your parrot is quivering or shaking
Your parrot starts to make a mating call or abnormal noises
Your parrot raises their tail or wings
Your parrot tries to mount your hand
Your parrot starts panting
Your parrots face becomes flush
If you notice any of these behaviours stop touching your parrot immediately.
Never reward your parrot for any of the behaviours above as this will tell your parrot that you will “be their mate”.
Doing so could result in future attacks on humans in your household.
How do I know if my parrot likes to be touched?
As we mentioned above, all parrots are different and how they will react to touch is different too.
Each parrot has their own personality.
So while some will react just fine to being touched on the head, beak, or feet, others will not like it at all, and others will go as far as to lash out at whoever is touching them.
How do you know if your parrot likes to be touched?
The key is to get in touch with your bird, understand their behaviors, and watch for their cues.
If your parrot seems relaxed when you approach it, it’s probably comfortable being touched.
Some parrots will even bow their head to the side or down for scratches to be pet.
But if your parrot is acting in a way that may tell you they are afraid, you should back away to avoid being attacked.
Parrots that are afraid may display stiff posture, run away, or lunge towards you.
In such a case, it may be that they are perceiving you as a threat in which case if you proceed they could end up biting you.
Whether it is you petting your parrot or someone else approaching your parrot, always be sure to monitor their body language and respond to their cues accordingly to avoid injury.
What should I do if my parrot doesn’t like to be touched at all?
Some parrots won’t like being touched at all.
This is often the case with parrots that have been abused and re-homed or parrots that have not been well socialized.
From the perspective of a veterinarian, this isn’t ideal because it makes it difficult for a veterinarian to perform examinations or to help the parrot when they are injured or sick.
With that being said, making a parrot comfortable with touch can be a long process. Still, it is possible.
The best way to acclimate your parrot to touch is to adapt them to the idea slowly.
Stand away from your parrot and approach them slowly.
If they appear afraid or nervous, back away and wait until they appear relaxed before you start to approach again.
After a few weeks of this training, your parrot will slowly allow you to get closer and closer and will eventually become comfortable with your presence.
Once they are comfortable with your presence you can start to work on reaching your hand out for them to climb on or petting the top of their head.
Remember, this is a process that takes a lot of patience.
Never force your parrot to do anything they are uncomfortable with.
Not only can this damage your relationship with the parrot but it can also result in severe injury.
Many people also like to introduce their parrot to touch through the toweling method.
When using this method always remember that positive reinforcement will have the most successful outcomes.
Again, your parrot may not be comfortable with towelling at first and this is a process that will take patience and time.
In some rare cases a parrot may not take to being touched at all regardless of how much time you spend trying to acclimate them to the idea.
In such a case you may just have to learn to love your feathery friend in different ways and from afar.
Are there any safety tips for handling a parrot?
Of course! Here are some tips to help you handle a parrot with care :
Never squeeze your parrot
In some cases it may be necessary to hold your parrot firmly, but you need to be careful not to squeeze too tight. Parrots have very fragile skeletons and a delicate respiratory system and squeezing them too tightly can easily lead to broken bones and other severe injuries.
Never approach a parrot without permission
If you see someone walking down the street with a parrot or notice a parrot in a pet store, never approach them without first asking the owner for permission. You never know what that parrot has been through or what their personality is like, so you could be putting yourself at risk of a bite if you approach too quickly.
Always be cautious of your parrots’ cues
You know your parrot best and it’s your responsibility to ensure that your parrot feels safe and doesn’t bite others. If someone else is approaching your parrot always make sure that you pay attention to their behavioral cues. A parrot will almost always display cues if they are frightened or afraid, and it’s your responsibility to pick up on those so nobody ends up injured.
Teach your parrot to step up
Many parrots will feel more comfortable stepping up then they will being touched. This is a great way to start getting your parrot used to being held. It’s also important that a parrot knows how to step up in the case that they ever need to be towelled or handled. Start teaching your parrot to step up as soon as possible. It’s one of the most important things that you can teach your parrot.
Can I let children pet my bird?
The answer to this question really varies from parrot to parrot.
Some parrots will do well around children while others will not.
You know your parrot best and you know whether they can be trusted around children. If you do have children in your home or children who come to visit your parrot, it’s important that you teach them how to handle your parrot properly before allowing them to approach.
Children are not always aware of how easily a parrot can be injured if they are squeezed or handled incorrectly.
It’s your job to teach them the appropriate ways to keep both your parrot and the child safe.
If you are not sure how your parrots will react around a child, it’s best to keep them at a distance from one another. Always be sure that you never leave your parrot unsupervised when there’s interaction between them and a child.
In conclusion, you should avoid touching your parrot anywhere aside from the head, the beak, and the feet.
Any touches on the body may be mistaken for sexual advances and can result in hormonal behaviours.
Whenever handling a parrot, always be sure that you are watching for their cues, and be sure to give them their space if they are acting in a way that suggests they may be frightened or nervous.
Always remember that parrots are wild animals and even when domesticated we need to give them the respect that they deserve.