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Old 01-28-2010, 06:33 PM
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Need help with Tiki

I guess our honeymoon is over

Tiki has a serious attitude problem and I'm not sure what I can do to help it. She's biting ALOT. Not just little nibbles either. Serious blood drawing bites. She does it when I want her to step up and she doesn't want to or sometimes just for no reason. My hand will be sitting there doing nothing and she'll come over and start the grooming nibble and then the nibble turns into an extremely hard pinch. She's done it at least 10 times today already.... and it HURTS. I'm trying not to react to it but it's hard when she does it so often.

My hand and wrist are covered in little bruises from her "love bites" Any ideas on how I can get her to stop or at least lessen the biting? It's not any one thing that causes it and I don't think she's afraid of hands as she has no trouble stepping up onto my finger if shes on a perch or in her cage.

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Old 01-28-2010, 06:40 PM
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Re: Need help with Tiki

Forgot to mention she attacks my hand and bites me very hard every time I put her in her cage.
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:11 PM
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Re: Need help with Tiki

Welcome to conure ownership.

This is a nearly universal phase that all conures seem to go through. I have yet heard of no explanation, but my own speculation is that there is a hormonal change as they bond to a new family or mate. I have also yet to find anyway to ease or avoid it. But it does pass.

It was one of the hardest times in my life when Auggie and I went through this. I loved him so much, but I was so close to giving him up. I thought I was doing something wrong and that I might not be able to give him a good home. I was wrong ... it's just a stage of conure life.

My suggestions are two: First, minimize the damage and ride out the storm. Restrict Tiki a bit - no sitting on shoulders, maybe not even on hands for long. She can be on your lap or on a table next to you. Second, talk to other conure owners. A significant portion, if not a vast majority of other conure owners have been through this stage (whatever it is). Don't give up, just be patient, be careful, and wait for it to pass.
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:30 PM
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Re: Need help with Tiki

Ok. I'm glad it's not just me. Maybe they like to test their new owners a bit? To make sure that no matter how far they push us we won't harm them.... who knows. All I know is IT HURTS. I even had my hands tucked into my sleeves and she crawled into my sleeves to bite my hands.....

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Old 01-29-2010, 09:01 AM
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Re: Need help with Tiki

GCC's are known for being "nippy" ... this sounds more than the average though. I think AD's advice is right on the head with this one (yet again).

I know that Maki has mellowed out in the last few months and hasn't been nearly as nippy as she was and it makes for a much better relationship with her (although when she would say, "no bites" as she chomped on my ear was always a bit amusing, along with a touch painful) it's a phase, they all go through it. Tiki is testing boundaries - think of it as a two-year old going through a biting phase ... don't let her get away with it and take away things that she likes (you) if she misbehaves ... they are very smart and she will learn "cause & effect" quickly.
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Old 01-29-2010, 11:27 PM
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Re: Need help with Tiki

I don't know if this will work for you, but here's what I've learned to do with my conure. It might help, if your conure gives any warning before she bites.

Our family includes a sun conure named Garbanzo. Garbanzo is "beaky." When she's sitting on my shoulder, she'll put her mouth on my ear. Then she'll give a little nibble. If I let her, the nibbles become progressively stronger until she is biting. She does this with everything... ears, fingers, ponytails, zippers, buttons (she's great at removing buttons) and whatever else comes near her beak.

This is how I deal with it:

You know the sound your bird makes to correct you? That "Squawk!" that clearly says, "Cut it out!" Well, I say "Hey!" to my bird in the same tone of voice, to let her know that I don't appreciate what she's doing. Then I sort of twitch roughly, which makes her stop what she's doing for a moment, but doesn't give her the idea that I'm afraid. The idea is to act like an annoyed conure - a quick squawk and feather ruffling. You don't want to convey fear or aggression, but I don't hesitate to let Garbanzo know that I'm annoyed with her. If she persists, I put her back in her cage. I never let her get far enough to cause me pain. Of course, this only works if the biting is gradual.

When Garbanzo is really mad or feels threatened, she'll sometimes lunge at me with her beak open, like she wants to bite. If she does this, I leave her alone for a few minutes to cool off, but then always come back (so she won't learn that she can intimidate me). When I come back, I approach slowly and speak softly.

This is how I taught Garbanzo to step up. I simply put my finger in front of her and said "step up." At first, she might lunge at me or back away. If she did this, I'd leave her alone for five minutes, but then I'd come back and do exactly the same thing again. It took a couple weeks, but she learned that she couldn't bully me and that I wasn't going to hurt her. When she stepped up, I gave her a treat.

Now Garbanzo is a conure that never bites her family (although strangers are another matter). She does still "taste" us, though... which will escalate to biting if we let it. But for the most part, I think we have a truce, and she's a great part of our family.

Oh, one other thing! Do you wear rings, bracelets, perfume, or hand lotion? Our sun conure will pick at anything with an irregular texture or color (such as jewelry and, sadly, freckles). I think this is part of the preening instinct. Also, if there's an unfamiliar scent, she can't help but "taste" it. So, before you handle Tiki, you may want to take off rings or bracelets, and make sure that you aren't using any strongly-scented soaps or lotions. Also, if you've been cooking recently, your hands could smell like food.

I hope this helps! Good luck with Tiki!
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