A friend of mine has been having some trouble with his cockatiels recently, and I’ve been doing my best to help him out.
Behavioral problems in cockatiels can be worse than some children, so knowing how to identify and manage these behaviors is really important.
One particular thing he started noticing recently is his cockatiel giving off a hissing sound when he gets near, puffing up its feathers and otherwise appearing threatened.
He asked me why this might happen, and I thought I would do my best to explain to everyone.
So, why does my cockatiel hiss?
A cockatiel hissing can indicate a couple of slightly different things, but it essentially means, “leave me alone!” Hissing does not always indicate an underlying problem, and your cockatiel could just be having a bad day. Knowing how to identify different behaviors is really important, regardless.
The most important thing is that you recognise your cockatiel is a living creature with its own needs, and that it won’t always be in the mood to interact when you are.
Furthermore, you’re going to have to spend a while at first getting it used to human contact to begin with.
Let’s look further into this.
Why is my cockatiel hissing?
There could be a few different particular things that set it off, but the hissing noise is essentially an expression of discomfort or irritation.
Remember, cockatiels are incredibly complex and intelligent animals, and they have stratified emotional needs which can change and shift depending on their mood.
Just like us!
If you are interacting with your cockatiel and it starts hissing, having never done so before, this could simply indicate that it wishes to be left alone at that moment.
The most important thing for you is not to force the interaction if your cockatiel is not interested.
This will only make it more annoyed.
For a new cockatiel that you have recently brought home, hissing could indicate some more problematic issues.
Again, especially if it is regularly hissing and yelling during interactions.
The simple fact is that all animals have to be acclimatized to human interaction.
Cockatiels especially so.
Take the time to use exercises to make your cockatiel more comfortable with you—and never force the interaction.
Notice if your cockatiel is retreating into a corner, as well. If it hisses while doing this, then it is almost certainly just frightened.
Take your time, be patient, and it will be used to you before you know it.
Why does my cockatiel hiss when I touch it?
So, again, if your cockatiel is hissing whenever you touch it, the first thing you’re going to have to do is stop touching it.
If your cockatiel doesn’t want you to do something, it will let you know about it.
Listen to what it is telling you, as continuing the interaction will only make it worse.
The answer still depends on how long you’ve had your cockatiel.
If a cockatiel you’ve had for a long time has suddenly started hissing when you touch it, this could indicate it has pain somewhere on its body.
If it persists, you may want to take it to a vet.
For a new cockatiel, the simple answer is that this is normal, at least at first.
Again, you’re going to have to take the time to get your cockatiel used to you—patience is really important.
It almost certainly will be very hesitant of interactions at first, so just be aware of that.
If there could be any other factor in its daily life that it is causing it stress or discomfort, this can make it less keen on interactions as well.
Make sure it’s able to get enough sleep, and that it’s eating a well balanced diet, as well as getting enough exercise.
Any short comings in these areas will cause irritation that can lead to hissing.
How do I stop my cockatiel hissing?
There are many reasons your cockatiel could be hissing, so the first thing to do to get it to stop is to try and identify the cause of the behavior.
If your cockatiel hisses unexpectedly, leave it alone for a good while and come back.
If it continues hissing, then check all of its amenities.
Make sure it has enough food and bedding, and that it has enough toys to keep it busy.
If your cockatiel will not stop hissing no matter what you do, you should take it to a vet.
There could be a physical problem that is causing your cockatiel to be grouchy.
So, in other words, closely monitor its behavior.
Hissing can be an indication of a few different things, then, but the essential feeling is always the same.
It means that it is annoyed or angry, and that it is feeling threatened or overly pressured.
If your cockatiel starts hissing at you, you should cut the interaction short, and return later.
Try to get it out of the habit of hissing by positive reinforcement, and by getting it more and more used to human interaction over time.
If you manage this, your cockatiel should stop hissing.