Sunday, October 24, 2010

Parrotlet Chewing on Cage Wire

Good Morning,

I have recently acquired an 11 year old Parrotlet and she has started biting on the bars of her cage, what I would call "strumming" or "picking" them. Her name is Chloe and she is a beautiful little thing and I have had a couple other issues with her, but I really would like to help her or stop her from this practice as it seems there is something emotionally or physically causing this problem. Can you offer any help or suggestions?



Dear Mark:

Thank you for your email. I have to admit in 30 years I have never had anyone ask this question. Since I am not there and cannot observe the bird’s behavior, I’ll give you some background on this issue.

Birds chew on wire. It is part of their natural behavior. It could be because the cage is too small, she doesn’t have enough toys or enrichment items, it may be she is missing minerals in her diet, it could be because of the stress of going into a new home or it may be something she just enjoys doing. I would go through each issue – make sure the cage is large enough – at least 18” by 18”. She should have a variety of toys and perches made from different materials. Be sure and provide her a nutritious diet with lots of fresh foods including vegetables, fruit, greens, cooked legumes, whole grains and sprouts. She should also have access to minerals such as cuttlebone and mineral block. You might want to add some vitamins or bee pollen to her diet although only a pinch of either several times a week is all that is needed. If it is due to the stress of the move, you will just have to wait that out. The older the bird, the harder it is for them to adjust to a new environment. Also, if this is a behavior she has been doing her entire life, you are not likely going to change it and attempting to do so by putting bitter materials on the cage bars or trying to discourage it by adverse training, is going to be more harmful than the chewing on the wire itself. 11 years old is pretty aged in parrotlets these days – it would be like trying to get a 90 yo person to stop smoking. Probably not going to happen. I do know that so long as the wire isn’t toxic – i.e., made from zinc, lead or brass, it isn’t going to hurt her. Its probably more annoying to you than anything else but it isn’t harmful to her.

I would try these other things and see how it goes.

Best of luck to you and your bird.

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.

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