Your parrot may have started off calm and mild-mannered but turned hostile and aggressive. Actions could include lunging, biting, and full-on attacking.
If your parrot is suddenly aggressive, it’s important to narrow down why.
Parrots can become aggressive due to fear, stress, and previous trauma. These factors will require you to remove the problem or help your parrot adjust.
Your parrot may become annoyed and intolerant due to hormonal changes, possessiveness, or changes in its environment. These require light training or will gradually rectify themselves.
Parrots aren’t aggressive animals, and meanness doesn’t come naturally to them. As long as you train your parrot, remove any stressors, or help it adapt to any changes, it’ll usually become less hostile.
Are Parrots Aggressive?
Parrots are popular as companion birds due to how affectionate and loving they are. When a parrot becomes aggressive, it’s usually due to an external factor.
According to Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice, wild parrots don’t bite when fighting each other. This suggests that biting as a form of attack is a response to external factors, not inherent aggressiveness.
Some parrots like teasing their owners and getting a reaction out of you. This may involve sneaking up and nipping you to get your attention.
Owners who are unaware of these antics will believe that it’s due to the parrot’s aggressiveness.
Do Some Parrots Bite More?
Macaws and Eclectus parrots are the most notorious pranksters. They love biting others as a form of play.
Other parrot species like to bite, too. However, they only do so when they are untrained and really bored. Pionus parrots, cockatiels, and some parakeet species are the least likely to bite when playing with humans.
Aggressive Parrot Body Language
Differentiate between a playful and aggressive parrot. A playful parrot that bites and is treated as hostile will lose trust in its owner. It may even grow to be aggressive because of the change in attitude.
A parrot that bites playfully indicates that it feels lonely. So, you will need to spend more time together. So, how do you know when your parrot is being aggressive? The signs of a confrontational parrot are:
The crest is the tuft of feathers on the head. A raised crest means the parrot is agitated or frightened, so it wants to make itself look bigger to ward off predators.
Ruffled feathers are another tactic parrots use to make themselves seem larger than they are. Your parrot will fluff up, poof up, or shake around its feathers.
If your parrot is crouched with a low-hanging head, don’t get close. This stance means that it’s getting ready to strike.
Swinging From Side To Side
This is usually done when a parrot is excited. However, an angry or scared parrot will rock itself from side to side as a warning. This will be paired with crouching or ruffled feathers.
When parrots stand completely still, focused on one person, they are scared and trying to analyze the situation. Any rapid movement, loud noise, or wild gesture from you may scare the parrot. That will result in an attack.
Rapid Change In Pupil Size
Parrots can change the size of their pupils. They often use this ability to send a warning.
Instead of using words, a frightened parrot will scream at you. This will let you know it doesn’t want you near.
When annoyed, parrots will growl. It mostly sounds like a soft purring, but if you hear it, it’s wise to leave the parrot alone. If you make it mad, it may get aggressive.
Why Does My Parrot Lunge At Me?
Lunging is a behavior parrots use to enter your space. Your parrot may suddenly extend its neck and reach for you with its beak. It may also rush you on foot. In general, lunging is a form of attack.
This motion can be made playfully or aggressively. If done aggressively, lunging will be accompanied by at least two of the warning signs discussed. For example, the parrot may dilate its eyes and fluff its feathers before lunging. In this case, the parrot is trying to invade your space to bite you with mean intent.
If done playfully, there will be only one sign (or no signs) that go along with it. For example, your parrot may only stare at you for a long moment before lunging. The parrot is trying to prank you and doesn’t mean any harm.
Some of these behaviors, like swinging from side to side, preening, and a raised crest can be signs of excitement. Other signs, like crouching, are mating behavior. If you’re afraid of getting attacked, use a stuffed animal that your parrot is already familiar with. Gauge the parrot’s aggression levels by how it lunges or bites at the toy.
Why Does My Parrot Attack Me?
Once you’ve determined that your parrot is being aggressive and not playful, it’s time to determine the cause. By understanding why your parrot is attacking, you can:
- Formulate a way to calm your parrot down
- Teach the parrotwhich actions are appropriate
The most common causes of aggression in parrots are:
Biting is a defensive behavior ingrained into parrots. As such, most parrots will bite out of fear, not malice.
You may appear threatening to your parrot while it’s distressed. For example, you may reach out to hold a frightened parrot. Invading the parrot’s space will be seen as a hostile move, resulting in a bite.
What Scares Parrots Into Biting?
Here are some factors that can scare a parrot:
Your parrot may not be used to spending time around others. As such, it will be scared of strangers and see them as enemies. Be careful when introducing your parrot to somebody for the first time. Parrots can be territorial, so strangers are as good as alien invaders.
Like most animals, parrots are good at sensing another person’s energy. If the stranger is loud, boisterous, and too energetic before earning the parrot’s trust, they may get bitten when trying to interact.
IParrots have many other animals that hunt them, like:
Because of this, it is instinctual for them to be wary of anything that moves too quickly in their peripheral vision. Dogs, cats, and other birds can trigger danger signals in the parrot’s mind. This sends the parrot into high alert, which usually ends in an attack if not calmed right away.
Loud noises put parrots on edge. Parrots have good hearing. While certain sounds may not seem too loud for us, they can be frightening for a parrot. The shrill cries and shrieks of babies are especially grating to the ears of parrots.
Because of parrots’ well-developed brains, emotional sensitivity, and social awareness, parrots get stressed out. That’s why parrots are so difficult to raise. They require a lot of attention and special care to ensure they live a life free of worry. Parrot enthusiasts will say that parrots require 4 hours of attention a day.
Long-term stress leads to what researchers call “stereotypes.” These are behavioral issues in parrots that stem from stress. Aggressiveness is a common stereotype. Parrots don’t know how to deal with the tension and lash out. When alone, parrots will direct that frustration towards themselves and self-mutilate.
Parrots that previous owners have mistreated may develop trauma. This can manifest in the form of:
- Refusal to eat
- Constant screaming
These are also symptoms of stress. However, trauma cannot be so easily resolved. It may require a professional trainer.
Abandonment is one of the leading causes of trauma in parrots. As intelligent creatures, they form tight bonds with those who show them love and care. Being handed down from owner to owner and losing contact with the people they care about can be quite traumatic.
To know if your parrot is traumatized, investigate where it came from. Poachers will capture wild parrots and sell them in unethical markets. Depending on where and how you acquired your parrot, you may have a wild parrot that’s gone through troubling experiences. Your parrot may also have been abandoned or treated poorly by a previous owner.
Sometimes, a simple change in décor is enough to upset a parrot and make it angry. Usually, basic changes like moving furniture or the bird cage aren’t enough to cause a parrot to attack. However, that will annoy it. If you linger too long in the presence of an annoyed parrot, it will lunge at you.
Smart parrots that know how to talk will voice their irritation. Depending on their vocabulary, they may let their owners know why they think it’s okay to attack. They should be left alone until they adapt to the change. If you notice that your parrot is getting overly aggressive, the change might have caused long-term stress.
If this happens, it’s sensible to revert what was changed back to how it was originally. If that doesn’t work, you should apply training to help your parrot adapt. This should reduce the aggression of your parrot.
As mentioned, parrots form deep emotional bonds with their favorite human. Regrettably, that bond may cause the parrot to become jealous quite easily.
Even when an entire household treats the parrot kindly, it will still choose a mate among the humans. It will bond with this person and have no problems attacking the others when jealous.
Why Do Jealous Parrots Bite?
Most parrot species are monogamous and form pairs in the wild. They are possessive of their mates and will attack anyone they perceive to be a threat to their mates. Domestic parrots do the same thing with their owners.
If a parrot trusts you, that doesn’t mean it isn’t jealous. A parrot will rarely attack people who have cared for it unless they do something the parrot really dislikes. Strangers are most likely to get attacked, especially when they get physically close to the human mate.
Your parrot may have been sweet and cuddly when it was young. Now, for some reason, it’s become aggressive. This happens when parrots go through a bluffing period, where they change their behavior. This happens between the ages of 4 to 12 months. The parrot will:
- Become grumpy
- Demand more attention
- Want to be left alone
There’s a reason the bluffing stage is often referred to as the teenage period. This change is due to hormones. Because of that, there isn’t much that can be done to calm down a teenage parrot. Instead, you can:
- Carefully observe the parrot’s behavior
- Learn what your parrot wants
- Try to accommodate it
Different parrots require different things during the bluffing stage. If those needs aren’t met, hostility will be inevitable. The good news is, like most teenagers, your parrot will eventually grow out of this.
If a baby parrot nips at you, you might find this cute. The pecks won’t contain the amount of strength found in adult bites. If you let this behavior slide, your parrot may quickly learn that it’s acceptable playful behavior.
However, as the parrot grows up, these nips can become dangerous. If you suddenly correct the parrot, it may have its feelings hurt. After all, it believes it’s done nothing wrong.
That makes it important to train your parrot against biting early on. As a baby, if it nips at you, gently tap its beak and tell it “no.” Be consistent each time it bites at you. Eventually, the parrot will learn that this is unacceptable.
As an adult, you may need more thorough training. The beak-tapping and “no” tactic will still apply. However, this may take longer for your parrot to adapt to. If the biting is excessive, you may need a professional trainer.
Lack of Socialization
Parrots that lack socialization will show aggression to everyone. Yours may even be nippy with the human it loves most. These kinds of parrots will have trouble being picked up, held, and petted. This will only worsen the parrot’s behavior over time because it will feel lonely.
Spending time with your parrot is the best way to get it socialized. It’s wise to do this with only one person at a time. This ensures the parrot doesn’t feel crowded or overwhelmed.
An unsocialized parrot will refuse to get out of its cage or perch on your hand. Bribe it with food so that it has a reason to get close to you. Always wait for it to get near. You have to allow it to make that choice, or it will get frightened.
Parrots can be territorial, especially bigger birds, like the African grey or Amazon parrot. In the wild, male and female parrots defend the nest area from predators. It’s normal for a pet parrot to claim a spot in the house as its own.
Territorial behavior in parrots occurs when they are allowed too much time in a particular area, usually their cage. They begin to think that the cage belongs to them and will attack anyone that gets nearby.
Instead, let the parrot wander around outside the cage so that it doesn’t claim the spot. It’s also crucial that the parrot is trained to understand that you are the leader. The people at the top of the parrot’s pecking order are allowed to enter the parrot’s space.
How To Discourage Parrots From Biting
So, how do you help the parrot burn off this destructive energy?
Let It Roam
Letting the parrot fly around will not only prevent it from becoming too attached to its cage. It will also allow your parrot to get the playtime it needs.
Play With Your Parrot
Playing with your parrot is great for bonding time. It will also de-stress your parrot and reduce its frustration levels. Getting plush dolls that your parrot can easily destroy is a good way to do this.
Show the doll to your parrot. Let it bite and scratch at the toy, but don’t shove the toy in its personal space too quickly. Otherwise, it might get scared.
Give It Many Toys
Have at least one toy available in the parrot’s cage. This lets it blow off steam whenever it wants. It doesn’t have to be an expensive toy. A parrot can often entertain itself by shredding pieces of cardboard or tearing old books apart.
Dance With Your Parrot
Dancing is another activity parrots enjoy. It’s both mentally and physically stimulating. As a plus, it’s scientifically proven that dancing makes parrots happy.
Socialize The Bird
Setting up playdates where your parrot can play with other parrots is another option. That’s especially good if your parrot is too energetic and you can’t keep up with it.
Why Is My Parrot Biting Me All Of A Sudden?
Biting is common in parrots. They use their beaks for many things in their day-to-day life, like:
That makes it common for them to accidentally hurt their owners when all they meant for was a non-aggressive peck.
A playful bite can easily turn into aggressive attacks due to improper training. A once-loving baby parrot can grow up to be a hostile adult despite no change in its daily routine.
Because of how easy it is for parrots to fall into these negative patterns, you have to expect aggressiveness if you own a parrot. The key is to narrow down exactly why your parrot is biting if it’s:
- Out of fear: You can remove points of stress
- Due to trauma: You can work to heal the parrot’s past experiences
- Because of hormonal changes: You can tolerate some bad behavior while correcting other points
Show patience with your parrot. Its behavior needs to change, but it needs to know that you still have a special bond. This will help prevent the aggression from worsening as you introduce training to improve its behavior.