Thursday, April 7, 2011

Aggressive Baby Parrotlet

Hi, Sandee. HELP! I have a beautiful 15 week old female Pacific Blue parrotlet that I am totally in love with! We got her from a reputable breeder where she was hand fed, and we brought her home at 11 weeks. We also have a five month old male parakeet who adores her. He is Elvis, her name is Tiffany. We keep them in separate cages at night and for parts of the day when no one is available to supervise. There are times during the day when they are free to fly around my kitchen/den area; the parrotlet will venture out first and the parakeet will then call her and finally go to her when she ignores him! They do have plenty of supervised play time together as well as apart; they will groom each other, take naps close together, and infrequently get into a squabble which is short-lived. They visit each other's cages and eat each other's food as the mood strikes them. Usually those activities are cooperative, but she is sometimes territorial and " bossy " with him, in either cage. She has plenty of chewy toys and a varied diet including fruits/veggies/grains, and a seed/pellet mix. We aim for twelve hours of darkness at night but it usually ends up being less than that because we keep them in our family room.

Tiffany seems very attached to me as I am a stay-at-home mom and handle her the most. She will fly to the room I am in and then walk on the floor to me, or fly to my shoulder/head. She knows the step-up command and SEEMED to know " no " until very recently.

Up until the last few days, she was nippy at times but not overly so and responded to a puff of air in the face and a stern "no bite". However, she has now started biting our hands/fingers very hard ( even me), frequently, and repeatedly, often 5-6 times in a row despite the negative responses we give her. There is nothing new or different that I can pinpoint which caused this change. I praise her EFFUSIVELY when she doesn't bite and always speak to her very gently and lovingly. She also is INSANELY curious and will try to knaw on collar buttons or jewelry. She reminds me of my teething infants!

We have tried "time- outs" but don't have a separate cage for this, we just put her in her own big cage. Tonight I used a spray bottle 3-4 times to spray her when she bit me, with the result that she flew away from me. I don't want to de-socialize her as she is a very friendly and vivacious little soul, but neither do I want her to continue trying dig holes in my flesh!! Are we wrong to allow the two birds to socialize together, often for an hour or two? Is that somehow causing her escalation in biting ? The parakeet is not as social as she is but doesn't nip either. How do I manage this behavior- handle her more or less, cage her more or less, etc.? I would really appreciate any direction you can give me. I really love this little gal but I don't want beakmarks all over my hands!

Thank you.


Dear Julie:

Thank you for your email. I am assuming since the bird is flying all over the place, her wings are not clipped. You need to clip them. Letting a baby parrotlet have free-reign over the house with no means of control would be like letting a toddler get behind the wheel of your car. The bird's wings need to be clipped and training needs to start. Parrotlets are very smart and this bird is simply doing what comes naturally - she has the ability to fly and therefore you have no control over her. At this point, all she is learning is that a) her territory consists of the entire house (causes escalating aggression in parrotlets and b) she can do whatever she wants since she can fly and you cannot. She is learning to be aggressive, territorial and bite harder and harder until the people back off and she can do whatever she wants. And just like a spoiled toddler, she will not behave in an acceptable manner - her behavior will continue to escalate.

You need to get her wings clipped and keep them that way and then start with formal training sessions of stepping up, 'no', no bite and all the other 'control' commands she needs to learn in order to be a happy, healthy member of your family.

Hope this helps!

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.
The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner,

Join the International Parrotlet Society, – the World’s Largest and Oldest Parrotlet Organization

A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest.
Camaroonian Phrase

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