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Old 08-25-2009, 08:35 PM
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new baby parrotlet

Hi,

I recently bought a 10.5 week old male parrotlet. He was hand fed and seemed very tame when I went to pick him up. He sits as close as he can to me in his cage, and if I open the door he comes right up to me and steps-up. However, he went from lightly mouthing my hand to just clamping on and not letting go (all in one day). I am having trouble distinguishing between it being baby-mouthy or fear or something else? It is hard, and does hurt. I have tried saying "no" firmly but he seems to not react at all to it. He wants to come out of his cage, but I need to know what to do when he bites, and just doesn't stop... I want to stop this behavior before he gets any older. He seems to already be somewhat attached to me, and always seems eager to come to me.

I have owned one lovebird in the past, though she was never really friendly, although when I did handle her she never bit me. She recently died and we just got Pepsi to fill that empty cage.

Any ideas about Pepsi's behavior and what I could do to stop it would be great. I am not sure if some of it is just a trust issue since I have only had him a few days? Thanks!

Niki
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:10 PM
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Re: new baby parrotlet

There could be a few things going on. It would be helpful to hear more specifics about the incidents. What are you doing right before he bites? What do you do right after he bites?

Innocent 'baby-mouthing' should not hurt, but such hard bites are common - he may be testing limits - if this is the case you need to establish what the limits are right away. If/when he bites hard immediately put him back in his cage and walk away (out of site) for a minute, and do not return until he is calm.

More importantly though is to understand what situations lead to bites and avoid them and/or change the situation before it leads to a bite.

He's young so he might be growing new feathers yet - this will leave him on edge and one bump to a new pin-feather can lead to a bite. If this is the case he will likely bite in reaction to being pet and you would probably be able to see the new feathers. Treatment here would be a combination of time/patience and baths.

Another possible cause is over-stimulation. If you are playing with him and he seems happy and excited this may be the situation. Here the key would be making sure he gets enough quiet time and don't get to crazy playing until trust is built. We all want to spend more time with our birds, and most of us should; but birds also do need quite a bit of 'nap-time' especially when they are young.

I would not act on any of these ideas yet as there are certainly other causes of biting. Again if you could describe the situation better it would be handy.

Realize though as frustrating (and painful) as it may be this is a very normal and almost inevitable stage of parrot ownership. So much so that when people talk about their new parrot and how great everything is going my first thoughts are "just wait..." We often call it the 'honey-moon' phase of parrot bonding: they really are the sweetest things, for a while. And he can and will be the sweetest thing again, but this stage of him learning boundaries and you learning his signals is a normal and healthy part of the process.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:13 PM
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Re: new baby parrotlet

Hey,

I just saw you're in Minnesota. Where abouts? I just moved from there last year.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:47 PM
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Re: new baby parrotlet

Before I take him out he is usually sitting or pacing back and forth in the front of his cage. When he sees me open the door he flies up to my hand and, it seems to me, pretty eagerly steps-up. He will do the step-up command without hesitating almost all of the time. Usually as soon as he is on my hand he just reaches down and starts biting. It seems to me like he is exploring my hand (he sure doesn't seem scared of hands), but he just clamps down and wont let go. I have tried saying "no" in a firm voice. I also read about giving them 'dirty looks' but he isn't paying any attention to me, he is too busy trying to rip the skin from my hand. I read that a good way to 'reprimand' is by laddering but I can do it many times, and as soon as I stop he goes right back to chewing on me. If he cant see my skin (I was wearing long sleeves this morning) he doesn't bite.

I only take him out for about 5 minutes at a time, and he has had plenty of naps today. I do have his cage by a window and heard that that is a bad spot to put it?

He does seem to want to be around me, when I leave the room he makes loud calls. I was thinking of doing the 'you bite me I am going to leave thing' tomorrow and see if it clicks in his little birdy brain I don't like to be bit! I really want him to bond to me and to have a fun relationship with him, I was never expecting it to be bite free... but I cant get him to do anything other then bite me!

We live in central MN, about an hour from the twin cities.
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:55 PM
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Re: new baby parrotlet

I have been watching him closely and he doesn't seem to do anything before the bites. He just looks down and then starts biting my hand. He doesn't always latch on, but all of the bites are hard enough to hurt. I don't pull away or start, I don't want him to think biting makes my hands go away. I haven't really done much petting, he doesn't know me that well and I didn't want to push myself on him. So when he bites me he is just sitting on my hand. Seems odd to me, because it is where he wants to be! Which is why I was thinking he is just being really mouthy, but I wasnt sure how to correct the behavior.
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:03 PM
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Re: new baby parrotlet

Hmm... I think I know exactly what this is. But before giving the long winded explanation there's a simple test: Have him step up on a stick or perch or your forearm instead of your hand. If this works I can elaborate why. If it doesn't then other options can be entertained.

Are you anywhere around St Cloud by chance?
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:09 PM
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Parrotlet named Pepsi
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Location: Minnesota
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Niki is on a distinguished road
Re: new baby parrotlet

He will step-up onto a stick just fine, though he heads right for my hand. I put him on my forearm and he did mouth my arm, but didn't bite down. He still seems mouthy on my forearm but it is a lot less painfull!

We are close to St. Cloud, about 50 min south, in Hutchinson.
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:11 PM
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Parrotlet named Pepsi
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Re: new baby parrotlet

He is pretty sleepy right now though...
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:15 PM
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Re: new baby parrotlet

My suspicion was wrong. I'm curious now though how hard a hard bite is...

Is he breaking skin and seem to be attacking, or is it just uncomfortable pressure?

In either case can you redirect him onto something else, ie get him to step up and offer him a toy (cat toys work great)? Does he have a variety of things to chew/shred in his cage?
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:22 PM
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Parrotlet named Pepsi
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Location: Minnesota
Thanks: 1
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Niki is on a distinguished road
Re: new baby parrotlet

It started out as just pressure but quickly escalated to biting pretty hard. He hasn't broken the skin but the bites from much earlier today are still visible and swollen on my hands, I think he has gotten pretty close to breaking the skin multiple times. He isn't lunging at my hand, just reaching down and chewing on me. If I try to remove my hands from his reach he does reach for them.

I have tried redirecting him with multiple things and he would much rather just chew on me. Usually he completely ignores the toys I offer to him. His cage is full of toys, though I haven't seen him play with any of them except attacking one, and it seemed he was doing it out of frustration because I wasn't letting him out.
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