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Old 05-04-2020, 08:37 AM
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Exclamation Rainbow Lorikeet Aggression - Help!

Hi there I am really new to this forum and honestly, this feels a little like a last resort.

I feel I need to give background information as to why I'm so confused.

I have a rainbow Lorikeet named Zuko and I love him to bits. I got him about this time last year making him a little over a year old. He was so sweet when he was younger and would wrestle with my hands and follow me around the house. He was like this for ages but in the last couple of weeks, maybe just a month or so he has gotten vicious, and I have no idea what changed.

I have been googling for solutions since this started but nothing seems to be working and it's only getting worse.

When he was little he would bite gently and we (me and my partner) discouraged it. He bit hard once or twice and my partner would lightly tap him on the head, but we stopped doing that when I realized it was doing nothing and resorted to putting him on the floor when he bit.

This helped for a while. Recently though he has gotten much worse. We got a second bird around the same time he became more of a biter. The second bird is another rainbow lorikeet that we rescued when it fell out of a tree, very much unplanned and wild so we are still working on taming them. They live in separate cages that are next to each other and only interact when supervised. They normally wrestle but it doesn't seem aggressive.

Anyway into the meat of the problem.

Recently he has started biting HARD at first it was hard nips and he would cling on. Which was very startling but no bigger problem as it only occurred when I stuck my hands in his cage, so I stopped doing that and only changed his food and water when he was outside. Then he progressed and started biting my hand when it was to close to him. Fine no going to close. But recently he has started attacking my hand and drawing blood.

He attacks my hand when I'm pouring water for his water bowl. He attacks my hand when I scratch my face and he is on my shoulder. Today was the worst day by far. He attacked my hand when I was feeding him. He was eating from my hand and then bit me so hard I bled like mad. This made no sense to me as I didn't move my hand whatsoever.

Im further confused by this as he is still happy to step up and sit on my finger when transporting him around the house, he still follows me around and wants my attention. He will happily and confidently approach my hand for treats.

I have noticed that he is worse on days where I have previously been busy and unable to spend as much time with him. For example if I have assignments due so I spend less time with him one day he will be more aggressive the next.

So I have no idea what is happening.

Am I not spending enough time with him?

Does he hate my hands?

Am I too scared of him?

What should I do and what can I try?

Should I try moving him from a cage outside to inside?

TL;DR
My Rainbow Lorikeet is drawing blood and I'm not sure why. Please give me advice on how to mend our relationship.

Thank you!
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Old 05-04-2020, 11:56 PM
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Re: Rainbow Lorikeet Aggression - Help!

Welcome! I'm glad you found us. The forums experienced some technical issues over the last couple of days, so I'm "bumping" your thread up.
Good for you, for reaching out!
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Old 05-05-2020, 02:08 AM
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Re: Rainbow Lorikeet Aggression - Help!

It can be so depressing when your bird plays up like this and it's hard to know what the cause might be. You haven't begun wearing any new or different rings, have you? Or painted your nails a different colour? Used new perfume? It can be things as subtle as that and you'd never guess! Just persevere and do your level best not to make a fuss when Zuko bites. Sometimes, the fuss we make (ie. 'Ouch!') is quite entertaining for birdie, so he'll bite again just to see the floor show.

I've never kept Rainbow Lorikeets and I'm not certain why yours would suddenly start biting. This can often happen round about the time a bird reaches its puberty, but a year is too soon for a lorikeet: they're sexually mature at about two years. Still, I have a few suggestions you might like to try.

Firstly, always carry a chopstick when you approach Zuko. Offer him the stick so he can latch onto that while you do whatever it is you need to do. If you offer him your hand, offer the back of your tightly-closed fist to step onto. If he bites, he'll find it hard to get much purchase on your flesh and you should have time to withdraw your hand if necessary. Always squeeze your hand closed tight and that should prevent deep bites.

It does sound as though he's suddenly developed a 'thing' about hands, so maybe you could try putting a treat on the back of your hand (tightly closed, remember) each time you approach him. Might work. Might not. Worth a try?

The other thing is that you could try target training Zuko (check out our forums or YouTube for instructions). If he has something to think about and a job to do, he might forget his initial thing about munching on you. Target training is useful in many ways and one of those is to divert a bird from doing something unpleasant or unwanted.

Don't *ever* strike a bird for any reason. Punishing birds is about as useful as punishing cats (ie. doesn't work), so don't risk whatever trust you might have built up with him. The best you can do is try to ignore (or at least *pretend* to ignore) the bad behaviour and distract Zuko into doing something else. Remain calm and simply introduce new activities to his routine. Persevere! You want to win!

It's not a great idea to keep a wild-caught lorikeet. Not judging, just passing on info. They can carry so many diseases (not the least of which is PBFD, which is rife in the wild flocks) and rarely ever tame successfully, no matter how patient and kind you are to them. They continue to pine for the skies and are never entirely happy living in captivity. I've seen wild-caught lorikeets calling and calling for hours each day as the free ones fly overhead and it's just sad. You might consider passing on your wild one to a WIRES person who would know what to do for the best. If you really want a second bird, why not get a hand-raised one?

I hope Zuko calms down for you! Do stay in touch and let us know how you're getting along!
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Old 05-05-2020, 03:00 AM
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Re: Rainbow Lorikeet Aggression - Help!

Thank you Betrisher! You've got some great tips and i will have to try I have been wearing new perfume and that might explain some of it as it is only me he has a problem with!

I'm going to work hard on some more hand training with a closed hand and see how it goes. As for the little baby lorikeet, I am curious to know who the Wires people are and how I can contact them! Thank you for all your help!
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Old 05-05-2020, 06:05 AM
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Re: Rainbow Lorikeet Aggression - Help!

Welcome to the Forum to you and Zuko! It sounds like you have a right little tearaway on your hands there!

Firstly I must ask you, how sure are you that Zuko is a male? The reason I ask is because, now that the weather is cooling off here in Australia, it is coming into lorikeet breeding season. My little purple crowned princess will be 2 years old in July, and last year she laid 3 clutches of (infertile) eggs for me, because now that she's grown up she thinks I am her boyfriend rather than her mum. The behaviour that precedes egg-laying is VERY similar to that which you have described with the frenzied biting, which brings me to my second point - how sure are you of Zuko’s exact age? Rainbow lorikeets reach puberty at anything between 12 months and 2 years of age, so this may further explain the sudden and shocking violence. Fortunately for me my little Lilly Pilly only has a tiny little beak but by crikey she can bite the beejeezus outta me when she gets properly fired up! My right hand currently has about a dozen tiny scabs where it looks like someone has been stabbing me with a needle! I’m afraid I may be stuck with this behaviour until probably December although most lorikeets, including rainbows and purple crowns, are opportunistic breeders and will get broody whenever they think environmental conditions are right.

Apart from having Zuko DNA tested, the only way to find out whether he is a she is what mating behaviour is being displayed. Male lorikeets are fairly obvious in their behaviours as they have a quite elaborate mating dance and will follow that up by humping your hand/foot/head/houseguests etc etc, much like my previous purple crowned menace called Sludge did many years ago. Females like my Lilly just get very bitey and will try to find a nesting spot and you can have a devil of a time keeping them on the straight and narrow. If Zuko has any kind of sleeping hut or tent or a mirror in the cage that will need to be removed as they will only over-stimulate those nesting instincts and lead to aggression. My tactics with Lilly are currently plenty of exercise, bathing almost every day (fine in winter as long as there’s somewhere warm where they can dry off) and cutting back on the high-energy dense foods. Lilly only gets wet mix for about an hour in the morning and the remainder of the day she just gets dry nectar powder and virtually no fruit because it has too much sugar. You can substitute leafy green veg like broccolini, kale, celery and/or bok choy instead of fruit. Even if Zuko turns out to be a boy these things may help ameliorate the worst of the behaviours a bit.

I have included a link below with heaps of info about lorikeet behaviours from a breeder in NZ. The web page is a bit old but the info doesn’t date!

The Lory Link

You can also try to make Zuko work harder for food to burn off some of that pent up energy. The more time and effort they expend on obtaining food the less energy they have to bite you! I have included some links below.




All baby birds are sweet and cuddly but unfortunately they grow up and are sometimes prisoners of their overactive hormones. This may or may not be what is going on with Zuko but it certainly bears consideration. I wish you the very best of luck!
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Last edited by LaManuka; 05-05-2020 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 05-05-2020, 09:05 AM
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Re: Rainbow Lorikeet Aggression - Help!

LaManuka has some great wisdom to share and she knows her lorikeets!

WIRES is the Wildlife Rescue organisation. There are branches in each state and they should be easy to google. WIRES volunteers are specially trained to keep, maintain and release native wildlife. You can't just open the cage door (as I'm sure you know) - a bird needs to be re-educated to living wild and that's what WIRES does. If I were ten years younger, I'd volunteer meself!
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