Conures aren’t aggressive parrots. Certain species, like green-cheeked conures and sun conures, are extremely popular pets due to their friendly temperaments and fun-loving personalities.
Conures can bite if overstimulated, stressed, scared, attention-seeking, or expressing affection.
The larger the conure species, the stronger its maximum bite force. Green-cheeked conures are just 10 inches long, while Patagonian conures are 18-20 inches. Their bite force reflects this size.
The pain level experienced depends on where you’re bitten and the underlying intent. For example, a bite of the soft skin on the neck or ear is usually more uncomfortable than a bite of the hand.
Teach a conure not to bite by ignoring unwanted behaviors and react positively to desirable behaviors.
Why Does My Conure Bite Me?
It’s rare for an adult conure to bite for no reason. Conures bites have explanations:
Playing And Seeking Attention
Young parrots explore the world with their beaks. A baby conure may regularly nibble at human skin, sometimes as an act of love and affection.
Many owners enjoy this behavior, petting the parrot and enjoying the special bond. Unfortunately, this misguided reaction teaches it that biting is a desirable behavior.
As the conure grows and develops, those nibbles become painful bites.
Learn and understand the parrot’s body language. In many instances, conures bite due to frustration if they feel they’re attempting to express themselves and their wishes are ignored.
If a conure bites due to frustration and you immediately respond, this sends a message to the parrot – biting gets the attention and things it craves.
Fear and Stress
Many parrots bite because they’re afraid and feel they need to act in self-defense or because they’re stressed. Common causes of fearful responses in parrots include:
- Constant, unnecessary handling.
- An unreliable routine or no defined schedule.
- Being left alone for too long.
- Injury and ill health.
- Lack of exercise.
Some things cause greater stress and fear in parrots and are likelier to result in unwanted biting.
If you lament that “My conure bites everyone but me,” you may need to assess the relationship. Conures can become ‘one-person birds‘ who become belligerent when approached by others.
Also, parrots can become jealous if they think someone is getting your attention.
Most species are open to bonding with several humans, including green-cheeked conures and sun conures. They’ll still develop a favorite person if only one family member meets their care needs.
For a conure to accept several people and not bite when approached by someone unfamiliar, ensure that everybody in the household (including friends and guests) interacts positively with the bird.
This could be to blame for a conure’s tendency to bite certain humans.
A bird may be conditioned through negative experiences to fear men or women or particular characteristics such as deep voices, facial hair, clothing, movements, and gestures.
Position the cage where the bird will feel like part of the family and can see and interact with others.
Consider noise when placing a conure’s cage in the home. Parrots fear loud, sudden noises, so avoid housing the bird in a location exposed to constant noise pollution (like road traffic).
If you have animals with predatory instincts, like cats, don’t allow them access to a conure’s room.
Lack of Sleep
Parrots need 10-12 hours of sleep. A conure should sleep in an area devoid of noise and over-stimulation. Provide a conure with a second cage in a quiet area for sleeping.
If a conure doesn’t sleep enough, it’ll be moody and intolerant during waking hours. While parrots can take daytime naps to catch up on sleep, they prefer a schedule of 12 hours asleep and 12 hours awake.
If a conure is noisy at night, it’s struggling to sleep. Check if it’s having night frights, and ensure that external noise and other disturbances aren’t preventing it from sleeping.
If a baby conure has gone from pecking and nibbling to hissing, lunging, and biting, it’s experiencing a hormonal surge. This behavior, known as bluffing, arises when a parrot enters puberty.
All conures experience hormonal volatility, usually related to mating urges.
Many parrots enter the breeding season at the onset of spring, when the days grow longer and warmer. Sexual frustration can make a parrot more aggressive than usual. Unfortunately, a conure that has bonded with you may show sexual interest and consider you a viable mate.
Reduce a parrot’s hormones by putting it to bed early and shortening days by covering the cage.
A conure will still be stimulated during this time, so be mindful of where you pet it. Avoid the back, under the wings, and tail, focusing instead on the head, beak, and feet. These areas are reserved for mates.
According to the journal Diversity, conures can be territorial birds.
A parrot may grow very protective of its cage and resources, biting if it feels you’re entering its space, even to clean a cage or refresh food and water.
If a conure shows this aggression each time you approach the cage, give it more time to exercise.
Where Do Conures Bite?
The hands or fingers are the most common body parts a conure will bite.
These appendages interact with pet parrots the most. The hands and fingers make easy targets, whether you’re reaching into the cage to clean it, handling the bird, or petting them.
This doesn’t mean a conure will never bite another part of the human anatomy. If a conure is perched on the shoulder and something startles the bird, it may bite one of the ears.
You may also find that a conure nibbles the neck, perhaps because the bird was perched on the shoulder and lost balance. Instinctively, the conure uses its beak to grab a stable surface with its beak.
Be mindful of a conure biting you on the lips, which is often an unwanted sign of affection.
What To Do If A Conure Bites You
If a conure bites you, do your utmost to stay calm and not react with hostility.
If you jerk your hand away and swat at the conure to remove it, you risk injuring the bird and harming your bond. This action may even encourage a conure to bite harder.
If you remain still, the parrot will release its grip. Then, you’re safe to withdraw your hand.
Any wound that breaks the skin must be cleansed with antibacterial soap and covered to prevent infection. Monitor the wound when changing the dressing to ensure it’s healing properly.
How Long Do Conure Bites Take To Heal?
Conure beaks aren’t as powerful as macaws’ beaks, so they won’t fracture or sever human bones. The pain will shortly subside if a conure doesn’t make you bleed.
If a conure’s beak penetrates the skin, be mindful of any symptoms of ill health. As per the journal Hand, parrot bites can lead to the transference of pathogens that lead to skin problems.
If you experience redness, swelling, and discharge around the site of the bite, consult a doctor.
How To Train a Conure Not To Bite
Teaching a conure not to bite can take several months. Your immediate concern should be, “How do I stop my conure from biting hard?”
The obvious answer to this question is to avoid exposing the parrot to anything that triggers biting behavior, but that’s not always realistic.
Accepting that bites may occur is part of owning a parrot, and you must learn how to manage them.
The fundamental rule when teaching a parrot not to bite is positive reinforcement. This involves praising the parrot when it behaves desirably and not responding to unwanted behaviors.
Wearing gloves may protect the skin but won’t teach the parrot that biting is inappropriate.
If a conure clamps down and bites harder, the only remedy is a time-out in the cage. Don’t yell or scream – cage the conure and walk away for 5-10 minutes while you compose yourself.