Boredom, stress, anxiety, jealousy, and a desire for attention can contribute to destructive behaviors in parrots. To reduce the risk, provide an environment with ample space, mental stimulation, and toys.
While parrots are highly intelligent and frequently playful, they can start biting, dismantling, and chewing furniture, leaving an often unintended trail of destruction in their wake.
Examples of how a parrot may destroy things in the home include the following:
- Pecking at furniture, frequently unraveling fabric.
- Biting and chewing on tough and abrasive items to file down the beak.
- Shedding paper, like a book or a stack of paperwork.
- Dropping food on the floor or tossing it out of the cage.
- Breaking or dropping their eggs on the cage floor.
- Pooping everywhere, including inside and outside of the cage.
Some species of parrots, especially larger birds like macaws, are more prone to bad behaviors.
Provide a stimulating environment, spend one-on-one time together, learn what triggers unwanted behaviors, and undertake training to promote positive behaviors.
Why are Parrots So Destructive?
Parrots aren’t usually hand-reared and fed by humans, so they rely on their wild instincts. They use their strong beaks to break open hard-shelled objects, like nuts and seeds, to sustain themselves.
Of course, a pet parrot is given food, so it doesn’t need to forage for food in the wild.
However, its wild instincts will be retained, so a parrot will likely practice the behavior on furniture. Chewing and biting also file down the beak, reducing the risk of an overgrown or misaligned beak.
You can train these habits out of a parrot, but you must provide an enriching environment, companionship, out-of-cage exercise, and ongoing behavioral training.
Here are the main causes of destructive behavior in parrots:
Animal Welfare explains how a lack of activity for captive parrots leads to problematic behaviors.
Parrots cope poorly with boredom in captivity. If a bird is kept in a cage all day and night without mental stimulation or company (human or avian), it’ll grow increasingly frustrated and destructive.
If you leave the parrot alone for long periods, ensure it has something to occupy itself. This can be achieved by providing perches at different levels, rope ladders, bells, puzzles, and chew toys.
Some owners provide mirrors, which makes lone parrots believe they have a companion. Unfortunately, putting a mirror in a parrot’s cage can sometimes introduce further behavioral problems.
Stress and Anxiety
As fun-loving and playful as parrots are, they’re easily stressed and startled. If a parrot works itself into a state of heightened emotion, especially fear, it’ll begin to act out.
Animals said a parrot with chronic stress might resort to self-mutilation, like pulling out its feathers. Once released, a parrot will turn these behaviors on external objects, causing damage.
Learn what leads to stress, taking action to minimize negative experiences. This involves removing stress triggers wherever possible and creating a calm, fun, and happy environment.
Parrots can develop a deep affection for their owners, especially if they have imprinted on them.
So, they’ll do whatever it takes to gain attention. If a parrot feels ignored, it may resort to bad behavior, leading to admonishment. In the mind of a parrot, any attention is better than none.
Learn the meaning behind a parrot’s body language cues and verbalizations, understanding when a bird wants to be petted, played with, or talked to.
If you fail to react appropriately, expect the parrot to take matters into its own hands.
Unfortunately, parrots that lack a mate can develop an inappropriate attraction to their human carers. So, they’ll display unwanted behaviors, like jealousy, vent rubbing, and regurgitation.
How Do I Stop My Parrot from Destroying Things?
Keep anything vulnerable or valuable out of reach until the parrot’s training has been completed. Once your home is parrot-proofed, you can commence the training process.
Training a parrot takes time and requires a calm and patient approach.
If a parrot is acting destructively, don’t yell at them because you could frighten them or exacerbate an anxiety problem, inviting other unwanted behaviors.
Alternatively, the parrot could associate its destructive behavior with getting the attention from you that it craves. So, far from being deterred, it’ll misbehave more frequently.
A destructive parrot should be distracted from the household item of its focus. Offer the parrot a fun toy or challenging food puzzle.
Praise the parrot and reward it with snacks when it ceases to behave undesirably. If the parrot is overweight or obese, offer one-on-one time and petting as an alternative to calorific foods.
Wild parrots are used to breaking tough-to-open foods using their beaks.
If a parrot’s diet consists entirely of soft foods like fruits and vegetables, it’ll lack the ability to keep its beak trim and aligned in captivity, leading to an overgrown beak.
Avoid manual break trimming by providing tough and abrasive snacks to break open. Providing a pellet-based diet is beneficial but supplement their diet with unshelled nuts and seeds.
Wooden blocks are the easiest way to encourage a parrot to peck and wear down its beak. Children’s blocks may be okay, but ensure they aren’t damaged, sharp, and haven’t been painted.
You can give a parrot a wicker basket to peck at an unravel, which will be especially effective if you fill it with paper. A toilet roll will give a parrot plenty to keep it occupied and entertained.
An unwanted telephone directory is another way to encourage a parrot to destroy safely. A parrot will peck and shred this book, which will take time.
Avoid offering old books and newspapers, as the inks used may not be parrot-safe. Most modern inks are soy-based and safe for limited consumption. Avoid offering parrots colored ink pages.
Parrots are very sociable birds, living in large flocks in the wild. If a parrot has a same-species friend, it’s less likely to act out, as it’ll have a second bird with which to interact and engage.
However, not all parrots will get along with each other, and careful introductions and monitoring are essential to ensure that everyone is safe and happy. Also, new birds must be quarantined.
Establish a Routine
Create a stimulating environment for the parrot and establish a routine that includes some time outside the cage. This will prevent the parrot from growing too bored and frustrated.
Ensure the parrot’s cage is large enough to permit some flying and ample movement while captive, and fill it with puzzles and mentally stimulating toys.
Companion Animal recommends foraging, play, and visual and aural entertainment for parrots.
Regularly check on and engage with the parrot because these social animals welcome human companionship. Also, ensure the bird enjoys several hours of exercise outside the cage.
Interact with the parrot during this outside time, playing games and holding conversations. Parrots don’t understand human language, but they enjoy mimicry and engagement.
All parrots retain their wild instincts, even if born and raised in captivity, so you must meet them halfway regarding managing instincts. Destructive tendencies can be curtailed with training and patience.