why is my parrot hissing?

What Does It Mean When A Parrot Hisses?

Parrots have keen observational skills and are highly attuned to the emotions and actions of others. This translates to wariness about their surroundings. Inquisitive as they may be, parrots don’t welcome new situations or unknown people easily. If a parrot feels unhappy or concerned, it may tell you to back away by hissing.

Parrots hiss when afraid, angry, frustrated, or uncomfortable. Hissing could occur when parrots are startled by a loud noise, feeling threatened, or defending you. If a parrot is nesting or going through puberty, it’s more likely to hiss. It may also hiss at people it dislikes or at the hands of those entering its living space.  

When a parrot hisses, give it time to relax. Since hissing is a warning sound, the behavior might be followed up with biting. Take steps to calm your parrot down, and avoid forcing it to do anything while hissing. Some parrots are more antisocial than others and may require training to stop them from making hissing noises.

Why Do Parrots Hiss?

A parrot will hiss in response to fear or stress when it feels in immediate danger. This may or may not be a real danger, but your parrot may see it as such. The source of the problem may come from:

  • Surroundings
  • 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 serves as a way to warn off other creatures or threats to back away. It may also be a way to express their aversion to the situation around them. If your parrot has started hissing, it may be for the following reasons:

Feels Physically In Danger

A parrot will hiss if it feels threatened in some way. A non-bonded parrot in its cage can be seen as a danger, especially if there aren’t enough water dishes or food bowls. Even if the other bird is too small to physically harm them, it can lead to a food shortage and limit the space it has to move around.

New pets should be introduced slowly, even if they’re not going to enter the parrot’s cage. A dog or cat’s presence may be scary. Children should be kept at a distance so that your parrot warm up to them from afar. Hissing is usually a parrot’s first warning. If the threat continues to get closer and does not leave, it may bite or start screaming.

parrot making hissing sound

Space Is Being Invaded

Parrots are surprisingly territorial for their size. Sometimes, even small budgies will be upset at anything entering their cage. This can include your hand, especially if they are 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 a bite may be incoming.

The parrot may also dislike new pets approaching the cage. New birds should always be introduced slowly. Rather than putting them in the cage right away, integrate them over several days or weeks. This will help avoid any aggressive confrontations.

Nesting Behavior

Even if your parrot doesn’t get to hatch its eggs or the eggs are unfertilized, it may protect them. During this time, hormones will make it more defensive and territorial.

No matter how strong your bond is, the parrot may hiss if you approach its cage, nest, or eggs. If it’s managed to hatch chicks, you could become secondary to its love of the offspring. It will even choose to protect them. 

Something Is Too Close To Its Favorite Person

If a parrot has a favorite person, it may dislike anyone else and be wary of them. In some cases, it will even jealously defend its favorite person through 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 try to ward them off.

Dislikes Whoever Is Near It

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 that mistreated them.

In rare cases, parrots develop a dislike of someone for no reason at all. If this undesirable person approaches or attempts to handle the parrot, it warns them off with a hiss.

New Toy In The Cage

Sometimes, a new toy that mysteriously shows up 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 most common with stuffed animals, which can be mistaken for predators. In other cases, the color, reflection, or smell may disturb the parrot. To defend itself and show its discomfort, it may hiss at the toy.

Doesn’t Like The Food

Parrots are known to be picky eaters. Your parrot may hiss at you if it’s not in the mood for a certain kind of seed, fruit, or vegetable that 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 expects you to make changes. Eventually, it may decide to begin skipping meals as a way to let you know it doesn’t want that food.

Wants Some Alone-Time

Although parrots are highly social creatures, they also value alone-time. In the wild, their territory extends for many miles, so they can easily seclude themselves from the flock when they need privacy. In your home, this is more difficult, especially if you insist on playing.

If your parrot walks away from you multiple times, it may want to be alone or may want to go back to its cage. If you insist on keeping it with you, it may hiss as a warning that it wishes to be left in peace. The opposite can also be true. Perhaps you’re trying to put it into its cage, but it still wants to stay outside.

Too Close To A Favored Item

Sometimes, parrots develop an unhealthy attachment to people and inanimate objects. This is especially true with mirrors, but also toys, perches, or cuttlebones.

If you try to take away the item your parrot is obsessively attached to, it may hiss. This is designed to ward you away and protect the object. It may also hiss at other pets or birds that get too close to its favorite toy.

Hormonal

Outside of nesting season, you may find the parrot is hormonal. This is most common with growing parrots that are transitioning through puberty. That can result in mood swings where the parrot has abrupt temperament changes.

It may be more defensive of its cage, toys, and personal space. If you get too close, it’ll hiss. The best way to handle this is by respecting its need for alone-time and strengthening your bond with them. 

parrot making weird noises

Feels Stressed Out

Narrowing down the reason for this stress will enable you to calm the parrot and avoid aggressive behavior. If the stress goes on for too long, it may result in the parrot:

  • Refusing to eat
  • Biting and nipping
  • Plucking out its feathers
  • Sickness

Some parrots want nothing to do with you while they’re eating. In that case, let the parrot have its space. Some parrots get territorial with food bowls, especially if they feel other birds are encroaching on their territory.

In the wild, parrots have ample space to fly, play, and forage. You won’t be able to provide 50+ miles of territory in the home, but you should provide a large cage and room inside your home to explore.

Despite being one of the loudest pets you can own, parrots dislike excessive noise. They can be set on edge by:

  • Cars
  • Construction work
  • Overly loud stereos
  • Shrill laughter
  • Barking dogs

Kids should always be supervised when interacting with pet parrots. They may not be as gentle as adults when handling them. Parrots are quite frail, and a child may squeeze too tight. If a parrot distrusts a child or has been mishandled in the past, it will hiss.

No Rational Reason

Sometimes, a parrot will randomly start hissing at no one in particular. This can be seen as playful behavior, and it usually is, but always pay close attention when it hisses. This could be a signal that your parrot is bored, stressed, or unnaturally attached to something.

Parrots hiss out of fear, discomfort, and aggression. If your parrot is making this sound, you’ll need to figure out the cause. By removing the problem or enabling your parrot to feel safer, it will no longer hiss.