Last Updated on: 27th November 2023, 05:38 pm
Parrots’ curved beaks must be worn down to prevent them from becoming overgrown, misaligned, or misshapen. So, they often chew on household furniture, clothing, electrical wires, curtains, etc.
While chewing is critical to beak health, parrots must be given more suitable alternatives.
Parrots need chew toys, wooden perches, cuttlebones, and tough foods (like nuts). You’ll also need to perform training while using a bird-safe repellent spray as a temporary deterrent.
If a young parrot goes through a “bluffing stage,” this period of elevated hormonal activity will eventually subside. This problematic period can last several weeks or months.
If an adult parrot doesn’t chew things sufficiently, an experienced person must trim its beak.
What Do Parrots Like to Chew On?
Left to their own devices, parrots chew on items that fit in their beaks.
Everyday things that parrots chew include:
- Cage bars, perches, toys, swings, ropes, etc.
- Hard-shelled foods, like nuts and seeds.
- Anything made of wood, including furniture frames.
- Curtains and soft furnishings.
- Clothing, including buttons and zips.
- Paper and cardboard, including books or magazines.
- Exposed cables and wires from TVs, lamps, headphones, and electrical equipment.
While chewing is expected, untempered chewing can be costly and dangerous.
Why is My Parrot Chewing Everything?
Chewing is an instinctual habit carried over from the wild. It’s done for the following reasons:
Wears Down The Beak
A parrot’s beak, known as a hookbill due to its curved shape, never stops growing. Chewing abrasive items wears the keratin down, preventing it from becoming overgrown.
Chewing is mentally comforting and life-critical. If the beak grows too long, a parrot will find eating, drinking water, securing its balance, and climbing the cage bars much harder.
The upper bill, the rhinotheca, is more prone to excess growth. Regularly chewing on toys and tough foods like hard-shelled nuts wears it down, improving the parrot’s ability to function.
Parrots chew things to deal with anxiety and stressful experiences. For example, another pet (like a cat or dog) constantly stares at the cage, or there are external noises (like thunder and lightning).
A lack of stimulation or human/same-species company is unsettling because parrots are flock animals. Fear is common among new parrots to a home because they need time to adapt.
Unsettled parrots also develop stereotypies, like pacing, corner flipping, and feather-destructive behavior.
Wild parrots chew to widen cavity nests in trees to fit inside. This gives them a safe place to shelter from deadly predators and adverse weather conditions or lay their eggs during the breeding season.
How Do I Stop My Parrot from Biting Everything?
Chewing behaviors are natural for parrots, but this doesn’t make them appealing. Some owners cope poorly with a pet parrot’s tendency to chew, rehoming their birds.
Here are some ways to deal with chewing behavior in parrots:
Keep The Parrot Calm
One way to minimize unwanted chewing is to keep the parrot calm. As intelligent and curious animals, unstimulated parrots become stressed, anxious, unhappy, and bored.
Ways to keep a parrot happy and contented include:
- Locate the cage in a quiet area.
- Follow a routine for mealtimes and sleep-wake cycles.
- Spend time with the parrot, regularly interacting, speaking, and playing.
- Provide chew toys in a stimulating environment.
- No fewer than 2 hours of exercise outside the cage every day.
If a juvenile parrot is in the “bluffing stage,” it’ll take time to calm down. Elevated hormone levels cause pet parrots to behave poorly, biting furniture and acting aggressively.
This period of adolescence happens when the bird is 4 to 12 months old. Sometimes, bluffing lasts a few weeks, but it can last as long as 2 years. If so, you have to wait this time out.
Alternative Things To Chew
Chewing is a natural behavior that should be accommodated. This involves providing a parrot with suitable materials to chew so it doesn’t destroy furniture and household possessions.
What can I give my parrot to chew on?” Here are some options:
- Wooden toys. Balsa, fir, and pine are safe woods.
- Dried coconut and corn husks.
- Foraging or baby toys, assuming they’re in good order.
- Abrasive perches (not smooth plastic).
- Telephone books and paper resources to chew and shred.
- Wicker baskets to chew, bite, and unpick.
- A cuttlefish bone hung in the cage.
These chewable toys and objects will satisfy the parrot’s instinctual needs.
Deterrent Sprays And Scents
If you’re wondering how to keep pet parrots off furniture to reduce the risk of chewing-related damage, you can deter parrots with offputting scents and sprays.
Many local and national pet stores stock sprays to deter parrots from chewing furniture. These are non-toxic but will have a bitter, unappealing taste and scent.
To make a homemade bitter apple spray for birds, mix 2 cups of apple cider vinegar with a cup of white vinegar. Then, add it to a spray bottle in readiness for application.
The main issue with spray-based deterrents is they saturate furniture and need to be reapplied.
One way to train a parrot is to remove it from situations where chewing is tempting.
If the parrot chews furniture, return it to its cage for a short time-out (5-10 minutes). This is sufficient to teach it a lesson, but not so long that it causes psychological harm and trust issues.
Alternatively, use clicker training. When a parrot is set to chew something inappropriate, use the clicker to distract them. When the parrot looks over at you, provide a more suitable alternative to chew.
A clicker is preferable to loud vocal commands, which can be startling. If you must act quickly, issue a short, sharp verbal cue. Avoid anything too loud, like yelling or clapping your hands.
Some species (like African grays, cockatiels, and macaws) are prone to chewing behavior. Other parrots favor certain items or furniture. If so, hide or replace the item with something less fun to chew.
Chewing is a natural behavior in parrots. It can be controlled by fulfilling the parrot’s care needs or redirected to items like tough foods, wooden toys, and abrasive perches.