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Parrotlet biting

Discuss the methods and techniques of clicker training, target training and bonding. These are usually the first steps in training a young parrot.

Parrotlet biting

Postby pamala1983 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:32 pm

Hi. I just joined here..hoping I can get some advice.

We recently bought a baby blue parrotlet and I expected she would probably nip a bit as I read it is common? Anyways, how long does this usually last on average? We have been telling her no bite and touching her beak when we say it. However, it seems to just make her bite even more and harder when she connects-she seems to almost go out of her way to try and bite now. What are we doing wrong??

We did notice that she is more aggressive when you are reaching near her cage like to pick her up or move her off the top of the cage. So we have started taking her completely out of the room where her cage is for a bit and then bringing her back around cage after awhile so she can eat and drink. She will still try and bite when you are trying to pick her up off the floor in the other room but I don't find its as aggressive.

We have kids and sometimes they want to hold her but they are nervous around her and they jerk thier hands around her scared she is going to bite so I was wondering if we should just not allow the kids to hold her until we get the biting dealt with?

Any advice is greatly appreciated as this is new to us and we just want to make sure we are doing things right!
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Re: Parrotlet biting

Postby marie83 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:49 pm

Hey welcome to the forums :)

Right so hope your new baby is settling in well other than the nipping.
Just a couple of thoughts
1. you are kind of answering your own question in a way. You have realised what you are doing to combat the nipping is not working. Ok so you might not know what you should do instead but you are part of the way there.

2. not only what you are doing is not working but its actually making the problem worse. So the very next thing you need to do is ask yourself why.

So I will ask some questions now and make some statements because I don't know your bird:

- yes parrotlets have a repuation of being nippy, some wont be too bad, other will be really really bad, all can be sorted out with the right approach.
-you really need to keep the kids away from the bird until you have more control/better socialisation skills. As it stands you are putting both the kids and the bird in the position where they may begin to fear each other. If this has already happened dont worry but it shouldn't be your main concern right now
-Q. is the bird already tame?
-Q how long has it been living with you?
-Q are you 100% sure it has fully settled down?
-Q can it fly? sorry I didn't look at the flight opton on your profile
-Q do you give it choices to be with you or do you just grab it?
-Q how do you get it in and out of the cage
-Q is there anything else you can tell us that might mean we can help you better?
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Re: Parrotlet biting

Postby Andromeda » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:39 pm

Marie has some good advice and answering her follow-up questions would be helpful.

The number one thing to know about bites is avoid them. Birds give off multiple signals via body language before they bite so try to familiarize yourself with the body language and respect signals that say, "I'm going to bite." It's really, really easy to accidentally reinforce bites and once bites have been reinforced it becomes a learned behavior and it's hard to reverse at that point.

Yes, parrotlets can be aggressive and prone to biting but with proper handling you can work through it. It will not stop on its own and if she continues to be handled improperly it will get worse (learned aggression).

pamala1983 wrote:We have been telling her no bite and touching her beak when we say it. However, it seems to just make her bite even more and harder when she connects-she seems to almost go out of her way to try and bite now. What are we doing wrong?


Although I have seen a few people recommend this approach for biting it's totally wrong!

1) Just following a bite the last thing you want to do is present your hand for another bite

2) Touching the beak escalates the situation as it makes the bird more aggressive (if you ever see two birds fight they spar with their beaks so touching the beak after a bite for all intents and purposes is "fighting" with the bird)

The correct response to a bite is to first, have no reaction to the bite whatsoever and second, immediately cease interaction and ignore the bird for a brief period of time by turning your back. Don't leave the room or place the bird on/in its cage or on a perch in response to a bite because that could accidentally be reinforcing.

pamala1983 wrote:We did notice that she is more aggressive when you are reaching near her cage like to pick her up or move her off the top of the cage.


Cage aggression is pretty normal but if you use positive reinforcement to teach "step-up" usually the bird will step-up even from its cage without biting.

Basics of parrot taming and training (including step-up)

pamala1983 wrote:We have kids and sometimes they want to hold her but they are nervous around her and they jerk thier hands around her scared she is going to bite so I was wondering if we should just not allow the kids to hold her until we get the biting dealt with?


Yes, definitely don't allow your kids to hold her, at least for the time being. Once she is tamer and you have worked through the nipping it should probably be okay but jerky movements will startle even a tame bird and can always trigger a bite.

Hopefully that was of some help. It will take time and effort on your part but you can address this problem. If you have any more questions please ask. :-)
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Re: Parrotlet biting

Postby pamala1983 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:12 pm

Thanks for the replies.

I have noticed she makes a noise when she feels threatned which I then expect her to be snapping out trying to bite. In her cage though there is no warning to her biting other then her lunging forward at you.

We have decided that the kids will not be handling her until we get this under control better so they just talk to her while shes in the cage and when she is out of the cage sitting on top of it or whatever they leave her be. She actually climbed down off the cage on her own this morning so I was impressed. She didn't go far from the cage but she still came down on her own.

She is tame and we have had her less then a month now. The breeder told us that the wings are clipped. As for giving her the choice or just picking up-we try to give her the choice but sometimes we just have to take her out. The breeder told us that the birds are cage trained so getting her out of the cage would probably be a challenge. Shes actually not that bad-when she isn't trying to bite. When we are holding her and go to pet her she will sometimes try and bite and other times she will let us touch her and she is calm.

So when she bites rather then say no bite we should just ignore her? If we are holding her and she bites do we put her down immediately?
If we stay consistant doing something like this does this behaviour generally correct quickly?I know a person can't give a time estimate I just mean in general.

Thank you again for the replies though. I appreciate it.

Oh and a off topic of this question-do you have to continue to have a birds wings clipped? And how often? Do you take them to the vet to have this done?
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Re: Parrotlet biting

Postby pionus » Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:59 pm

pamala1983 wrote
Oh and a off topic of this question-do you have to continue to have a birds wings clipped? And how often? Do you take them to the vet to have this done?


By no means do you have to continue clipping, a bird has wings for a reason, and just because we have the ability, doesn't mean we have the right to take them away. plus, a flighted bird is happier and healthier both psychically and mentally, and is less likely to bite because they have the option of fleeing instead of biting.

good luck with your parrotlet!
If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.
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Re: Parrotlet biting

Postby Eric&Rebecca » Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:01 am

I would not clip the wings... but just ensure your behaviour adjusts such as always keeping windows closed. Also educate the children on this so they are aware of the changes they must make. I would also show them, once biting has ceased, how to correctly behave and handle the bird.

No children are even allowed near my birds cage and if they make too much noise or screaming they are removed! LOL. Birds come first for me :p I would be very careful at this stage with the children, perhaps take them to a local pet shop or petting zoo where they can learn to pet birds correctly. They can be great companions for children :-)
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Re: Parrotlet biting

Postby pennyandrocky » Mon Apr 01, 2013 9:36 am

i agree a clipped bird is not safe with children or other pets. you'll have to teach your kids to move slowly birds don't really like hands especially small fast moving ones. you have to teach them to like your hands with treats and not grabbing out of the cage, i don't know why people feel the need to do that i just open the door and they can come out on their own.
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Re: Parrotlet biting

Postby janetafloat » Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:44 pm

You've had plenty of good advice here, but just to add my two cents worth...

Please don't clip your bird. Flight is fundamental to a bird's mental and physical health and once you've lived with a flighted bird you will understand what unnatural thing it is for a bird to be unable to fly. In light of your question, too, you should know that a clipped bird is more likely to be aggressive because birds have only two possible responses to something that frightens them and that is to fly away from it or bite.

With regards bringing your bird out of its' cage, a bird should want to come out of its' cage...if it doesn't it's because it's not confident usually and putting your hand into its' 'safe place' and forcing it out will only exacerbate that. Your bird needs to be trained and Andromeda has given you the link to Michael's step by step guide (http://www.trained parrot.com/Taming). You mention that 'when you go to pet' the bird it sometimes bites. Try and understand that a bird is a very different creature to a puppy or a kitten....to be 'pet' by a person is not natural to them and it needs to learn to trust you and to learn over time that being petted is a pleasant and safe experience. Don't assume that this is something your bird should accept. If the bird wants you to scratch its' neck it will put its' head down and you will know that it's inviting you to do that.

And I'm in complete agreement with what everyone else has said on the subject of children. I love children but your bird needs to be a lot more confident and calm before your children can handle it, and then with careful supervision.

With patience and time - and if you educate yourself about how to train and interact with your bird - you will have the pet that you hope for
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