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are parrots aggressive?

Why Is My Parrot Getting So Aggressive? (Lunging + Attacking)

Last Updated on February 21, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Your parrot may have once been calm and mild-mannered. Inexplicably, it turns aggressive. It starts hissing, lunging, biting, or attacking certain people at certain times, seemingly for no reason.

Some parrots tease people, sneaking up and gently nipping their owners to provoke a reaction. Of course, owners unaware of these antics may believe it’s due to hostility.

According to Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice, wild parrots don’t bite when fighting each other. Parrots aren’t aggressive animals, so meanness isn’t in their nature.

Parrots show aggression due to fear, stress, anxiety, startlement, hormonal fluctuations, jealousy, bullying from cagemates, a lack of resources, territoriality, illness, injury, and past emotional trauma.

Most problems rectify themselves over time or can be resolved through training. Others require cage and environmental adjustments. In the case of hormones and jealousy, we can minimize the triggers.

Why Parrots Lunge At You

Lunging is usually a warning the parrot will attack if you don’t back away. Something may have unsettled them, so note whether lunging is a one-off action or happens whenever you approach.

An aggressive parrot may suddenly extend its neck, reaching for your hand or fingers with its beak. Alternatively, it may flail away with its wings or make a short-lived rushing action toward you on foot.

Lunging has other meanings besides hostility, especially if accompanied by other body language.

If done playfully, there will be few, if any, accompanying signs. A parrot may stare at you intently before lunging, which means it’s having fun. Parrots have a great sense of humor, so they love pranks.

Some parrot behaviors, like swinging from side to side, preening, and raising the crest, can signify positivity and excitement. Other signs, like crouching, are mating behaviors.

If you’re concerned about getting attacked by a parrot, move a familiar stuffed animal toward the cage entrance instead of your hand. That way, you can assess the parrot’s mood.

why is my parrot biting me all of a sudden?

Why Parrots Attack And Bite You

Once you’ve determined the parrot isn’t just being playful, you must identify the cause.

The most common reasons for aggression in parrots include the following:

1/ Fear

Biting is a defensive behavior ingrained in parrots. They bite out of fear, not malice. Parrots are prey animals, so they’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive. A caged parrot can’t just fly away.

You may appear threatening to the parrot while it’s distressed. Perhaps you reached out to hold a frightened parrot and invaded its space, which was interpreted as threatening its well-being.

These factors can scare a parrot:

New People

A parrot may be unaccustomed to spending time around certain people, so they’ll see them as threats. Parrots are territorial, so be careful when introducing them to somebody for the first time.

Parrots are good at sensing another person’s energy. If the stranger is loud and boisterous before earning the parrot’s trust, they may be attacked or bitten when attempting to interact peacefully.

Quick Movements

Parrots are hunted by many animals, including:

  • Bats.
  • Eagles.
  • Hawks.
  • Monkeys.
  • Jaguars.

It’s normal for parrots to be wary if anything moves quickly. Dogs, cats, and other birds can trigger danger signals, putting them in a state of high alert, which can result in an unexpected attack.

Excessive Noise

Loud noises put parrots on edge because they have relatively good hearing. While certain sounds aren’t loud to humans, they can frighten a parrot. For example, you drop something on the floor.

2/ Stress

Due to parrots’ advanced intelligence, emotional sensitivity, and social awareness, parrots get stressed out, which is why they’re sometimes difficult to understand and care for.

Parrots require attention and special care to ensure they live worry-free lives. Long-term stress leads to stereotypies, which are behavioral issues that stem from unhappiness and stress.

Parrots struggle to cope with stress. Consequently, they lash out at people they love and trust. When alone, parrots may direct that inner frustration toward themselves and self-mutilate.

3/ Emotional Trauma

Parrots that previous owners have mistreated may be traumatized. You may resemble someone who used to mistreat or chastise the parrot because you’ve got short hair or wear the same cologne.

These intelligent and emotional birds form close bonds with their human owners. Being handed down from owner to owner and losing contact with bonded humans is traumatic.

4/ Change

Have you recently changed something in the parrot’s cage or room?

Sometimes, changing the décor in the parrot’s room can be highly unsettling. Red is the universal color of danger in the wild, so red and orange hues can be deeply troubling.

5/ Jealousy

Parrots form deep emotional bonds with humans. Regrettably, that close bond may cause jealousy.

Even if everyone treats the parrot well, it’ll likely prefer its primary caregiver or could be a one-person bird. Consequently, it’ll bond with this person and attack anyone who gets in the way.

Many parrots are monogamous, forming lasting pairs. Parrots are possessive of their mates and will attack anyone threatening their union. A parrot may see you as its partner if it lacks a same-species mate.

6/ Hormones

Parrots go through a bluffing stage when 4-12 months old. The “bluffing stage” is often called the teenage period because it’s hormonal. Behavioral changes include:

  • Intolerance.
  • Biting.
  • Demanding more attention.
  • Screaming.
  • Wanting to be left alone.

Nothing can be done in the short term, but it’ll subside after a few weeks or months.

7/ Learned Behavior

If a baby parrot nips you, it may seem cute because the pecks won’t hurt. However, if you allow this behavior to continue, a parrot will believe it’s an acceptable playful behavior.

Unfortunately, as the parrot grows up, nips can become painful bites. If you suddenly correct the parrot, it may get upset with you because it feels it’s done nothing wrong.

Train the parrot not to bite early in life. As a baby parrot, if it nips at you, tap its beak and tell it “no.” Do this whenever it bites you. Eventually, it should realize its behavior is unacceptable.

An adult parrot will need ongoing or more comprehensive training to mend its ways. The beak-tapping and “no” tactics still work, but an adult parrot will take longer to adjust.

8/ Lack of Socialization

Parrots that lack socialization will show aggression toward everyone. Unsocialized parrots dislike being held and petted. This will only worsen because they’ll feel more lonely and socially ostracized.

Spending time with the parrot is the most effective form of socialization. This should only happen with one person at a time to prevent the parrot from feeling crowded or overwhelmed.

9/ Territoriality

Parrots are territorial animals because they must defend their nests from dangerous predators.

Territorial behavior occurs when parrots are allowed too much time in an area, usually their cage. They assume the cage and everything in it belongs to them and attack anyone who gets close.

10/ Excessive Energy

Some parrot species are very energetic, needing additional out-of-cage time and exercise. Caiques, lorikeets, and conures need lots of physical activity, or they’ll grow annoyed and frustrated.

11/ Illness and Injury

If a parrot has fallen ill or sustained an injury from a fall or collision, it’s more vulnerable to harm. Weakened parrots become more defensive to avoid physical interaction with others.

Consequently, you may attempt to pick up a pet parrot only to get bitten. Perhaps the parrot has a bad leg or an infected foot, so being lifted is painful and distressing.

If a parrot is experiencing respiratory distress, limping, favoring a wing, etc., it may be injured or unwell. Not all health concerns are symptomatic, so have your parrot examined by a veterinarian.

why does my parrot lunge at me?

Reducing Aggressive Behavior in Parrots

Here are some ways to reduce aggression in parrots:

Free Roaming

Allowing the parrot to fly around a safe room will prevent it from getting too attached to its cage. As an added benefit, it’ll receive the exercise and playtime it needs to be happy and healthy.

Play Together

Playing with the parrot is ideal bonding time. It’ll also de-stress the parrot and reduce its frustration level. Getting plush toys for the parrot to toss around and rip up is cathartic.


Have at least one toy available so the parrot can blow off steam. A parrot can often entertain itself by shredding pieces of cardboard or tearing old books apart.

Dancing is another activity parrots find fun because it’s mentally and physically stimulating. Better still, it’s scientifically proven that dancing makes parrots happy.


Set up playdates and parties where the parrot can play with other parrots.

Parrots are emotional animals, so you should expect to get bitten occasionally when you misread their body language. Inevitably, we learn and make adjustments.

If lunging, biting, and attacking become frequent, something is amiss. Problems can range from everything from hormones to past mistreatment to illness and injury. If so, adjustments must be made.