Parrots have keen observational skills and are highly attuned to the emotions and actions of others, which translates to a wariness of their surroundings.
Inquisitive as they might be, parrots are neophobic and dislike new situations and unknown people.
It’s normal for parrots to hiss to express dissatisfaction. If a parrot is annoyed, scared, or feeling threatened, it’ll hiss to get you to back away.
If you don’t move away or remove your hand from its cage, it can be a precursor to getting bitten. When a parrot hisses, give it time to calm down.
Why Do Parrots Hiss?
A parrot will hiss in response to extreme fear or stress when it fears its life is in peril. This may not be a real danger, but your parrot may see it as such. The source of the problem may be:
- Nearby sounds
- Another bird
- Other pets
- Household member
- Friends and house guests
Being neophobes, parrots are naturally cautious of anything new in their environment. Hissing is a way to warn animals to back away or a means of expressing their aversion to the situation around them.
If your parrot has started hissing, it may be for the following reasons:
1/ Feels in Physical Danger
A parrot will hiss if it feels threatened or fearful in some way.
A non-bonded parrot in its cage can be considered dangerous. Trust hasn’t been established, so your parrot doesn’t know if the other bird will be friendly or aggressive.
Also, it doesn’t know if it’ll take its territory or if there will be enough food and water for both birds.
New birds should always be introduced slowly. Rather than putting them in the cage immediately, integrate them over several weeks after a period of quarantining.
New non-avian pets should be introduced slowly, even though they’re not entering the parrot’s cage. A dog or cat’s presence may be scary because they’re predatory animals.
Children should be kept at a distance so your parrot can warm up to them from afar.
2/ Space Has Been Invaded
Parrots are highly territorial for their size. Sometimes, even small budgies will be upset at anything entering their cage, including your hand, if they’re not yet used to it.
A parrot may hiss at you when you reach in to change food bowls or hang a new perch. Be wary if you hear a hiss at this time, as it may not understand your motivations and bite.
3/ Nesting Behavior
Even if your parrot doesn’t get to hatch her eggs or the eggs are unfertilized, it’ll still protect them. During this time, hormones will make her more defensive than normal.
No matter how strong your bond is, the parrot may hiss if you approach its cage, nest, or eggs. Parrots know that their offspring are particularly vulnerable at this early stage of development.
4/ Something Near Bonded Human
If a parrot has a favorite person, it may dislike anyone else and be wary of them. Sometimes, it’ll even jealously defend its favorite person by hissing at other people or pets.
For example, if the parrot has bonded with you, it may hiss at family members or friends that approach. It may also get jealous when your cat or dog tries to snuggle with you and ward them off.
5/ Dislikes Person Nearby
Parrots can dislike or distrust certain people due to their unique personalities and temperaments. They have likes or dislikes and may decide they detest a certain person.
If this person mistreated the parrot, that might be the cause. In other cases, that person may remind the parrot of an old owner who mistreated them.
6/ New Toy in The Cage
Sometimes, a new toy that mysteriously appears in the cage will seem threatening to a parrot. Parrots are very sensitive to new changes and will become stressed out by them.
This is common with stuffed animals, which can be mistaken for predators. Also, the color, reflection, or smell may disturb the parrot, so it may hiss at the toy to defend itself or show its discomfort.
7/ Dislikes The Food
Parrots are picky eaters, so your parrot may hiss at you if it’s not in the mood for a certain pellet, seed, fruit, or vegetable you’ve put in its food bowl. If the parrot’s spoiled, this is more likely.
It’s hissing to show you its displeasure and that it wants you to make immediate changes.
8/ Wants Alone Time
Although parrots are social creatures, they also value alone time.
Their territory extends for miles in the wild, so they can seclude themselves from the flock when they need privacy. In your home, this is more difficult, especially if you insist on petting and playing.
If your parrot refuses to leave its cage, it may want to be alone. The opposite can also be true. Perhaps you’re trying to put it into its cage, but it wants to stay outside.
9/ Too Close To A Favored Item
Sometimes, parrots develop an unhealthy attachment to inanimate objects. This is especially true with mirrors, as parrots often confuse a reflection for a mate.
Parrots also get attached to stuffed toys, perches, swings, and ladders.
It may hiss if you try to remove the item it’s obsessively attached to. This is to ward you off and protect the object. It may also hiss at other pets or birds that get too close to its favorite toy.
Outside of the mating season, you may find the parrot is hormonal.
This is most common with growing parrots transitioning through puberty, which can result in mood swings where there are abrupt temperament changes.
11/ Stressed Out
Narrowing down the reason for this stress will let you calm the parrot down. If the stress goes on for too long, it may result in the parrot:
- Refusing to eat
- Biting and nipping
- Plucking out its feathers
Some parrots want to be left alone while eating. If so, let the parrot have its space. Some parrots get territorial over food bowls, especially if they feel other birds encroach on their territory.
Parrots have ample space to fly, play, and forage in the wild. You won’t be able to provide 50+ miles of territory in the home, but you should provide a large cage to explore.
Despite being loud, parrots dislike excessive noise. They can be set on edge by the following:
- Construction work
- Overly loud stereos
- Shrill laughter
- Barking dogs
Kids should always be supervised when interacting with pet parrots, as they may not be as gentle as adults when handling them. If a parrot distrusts a child or has been mishandled in the past, it’ll hiss.
Parrots hiss out of fear, discomfort, and aggression. By removing the problem, it’ll no longer hiss.