Biting rescue RBC

Drinn

New member
Nov 2, 2021
2
4
Parrots
Galah, Budgie
About three weeks ago, my family decided to get a rescue galah. I don't know much about his previous situation, but he's about a year old.

He has taken very well to target training, steps up onto my arm, and has learned a couple of simple tricks (spin around, wave). He will rush up to anyone who goes near his cage, and when let out, all he wants to do is be near people.

The problem is, he absolutely lunges at hands (regardless of whether you're trying to pet him or not) and will bite at your fingers/wrist. It doesn't matter if he's on my arm, or if he's on his perch and I'm sitting many metres away from him - he will rush at the nearest convenient person, even run or fly at them, and proceed to attack their hands. He's really serious about it too - he's drawing blood. Staying still and calm doesn't work, he just latches on and bites even harder. Moving the hand away also doesn't work - he pursues it. He will take food from your hand, but as soon as he's taken it, he wants to destroy your hand again. It's only ever hands - he won't bite at your feet or face or anywhere else. I have no idea whether or not he's been through some sort of past trauma involving hands, but I have to wonder.

Most of the advice I could find for biting birds dealt with birds that were biting when people tried to pet them, but that's not the case here - none of us dare try it, because we know what will happen if we do. Hell, letting him out of his cage is a dangerous affair - he just runs up to hands and attacks them, regardless of what we're doing at that particular moment. He will usually let go to follow the target stick, so if he's latched on we use it to have him do a simple trick, and then reward (so we're not rewarding the biting), buuuuuuut usually by that point he's drawn blood.

Is there anything we can do to try and get him to stop biting? Would be happy to try anything - he loves food and took very well to the target training.

Edit: I should probably add that he does not bite during the target training, unless you bring your other hand too close, or he gets too close to the hand holding the stick, in which case he starts chomping.
 
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Emeral

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2021
196
417
Parrots
Hanhs Macaw
This is a heart warming adoption as well as a heartache story all together. And it is not easy since we know nothing of the past trauma. We will have to carefully observe the cause of biting. We want to know how much he understand us. Need to assume the cause, let's guess whether it is attention seeking, jealous, self protection, fear, requesting reward.....etc. Oh, would it be possible to reach previous owner for some information? How did it started?

There are so many things to try to reduce biting.....so it's gonna be quiet a journey....but first thing for now, gloves up both your hands.....and never allow shoulder perching until good behavior is attained. And then some questions......

1) What are the commands he understood, good boy? Nooooo? Are the most basic and important ones. I think he crave love, how does he respond to praise?

2) Is there other pet around? Is he jealous?
Who is his favorite person? How is he bonding with you? Trust building activity so far? how much out of cage time per day?

3) is his cage easily movable? Is it in the most active zone? Does he get attention many times a day?

4)Is the training station below eye level? As this is critical with commanding the bird.

5) was he hand fed with spoon or syringe? If we could hand fed him in order to build a strong trust quickly....?

6) I think he needs pressure bite training.

Send us some photos and describe anything you can think of. We will brainstorm on solutions to try together. Meanwhile, you might find this thread useful while we wait for additional comments from more experienced members.

Post in thread 'Biting rescue' https://www.parrotforums.com/threads/biting-rescue.91464/post-943122

I truly hope that more clues about the past as well as information on his current environment will solve this puzzle. And thump up for the rescue of this young baby boy.
 
OP
Drinn

Drinn

New member
Nov 2, 2021
2
4
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Galah, Budgie
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Hey! I'll try to fill you in as best I can, but it's not possible to reach the previous owner, so we know nothing about what was going on beforehand - that's a big part of the problem, I think. He was found lost, and through a fairly lengthy process, made his way through a vet, maybe some form of shelter, then a foster carer, and then onto us. The foster guy seemed to think he was some sort of abandoment case - he said he'd acquired twenty other galahs in similar circumstances, all within the last few months. (I'm in a part of Australia where you don't actually need a license to own a galah, for what it's worth; the foster guy felt this was part of the reason so many were turning up abandoned.)

We also know he was a total seed junkie with the foster guy, and we've managed to get him onto a better diet since bringing him home - he's wary of new foods, but so far we have him eating fresh veggie chop (spinach, chard, green capsicum, lettuce) with pellets and a few seeds in the mornings and evenings, and sunflower seeds and almonds as treats. He also likes to chew on bottlebrush flowers.

I can try gloves - what materials are best, in the sense of not being toxic to chew on? He doesn't like going to our shoulders, only ever the forearm, so that should be okay enough. (Though regarding that - I will say that he sometimes gets himself into such a rush, he will fly to your forearm because he just cannot wait for you to get close enough to him! We all try to go slowly with him, and he tends to be a wild ball of impatience.)

Oh! And we've named him Monty, but as it's a fairly new name, he's not responding much to it yet.

Anyway, lemme answer these in order! These are very thorough questions, so hopefully I've managed to answer everything - let me know if I missed anything, haha.

1) He definitely knows 'good boy', since that one typically means food. 'Nooooo' gets no response whatsoever - generally speaking, once he's latched on, he's latched on. Monty doesn't talk, but he has a chirping noise he makes as a contact call (and he seems pleased when we respond). He really loves praise (or just happy talking in a nice voice) - if you do it inside or outside of the cage, he rushes up to you and seems generally very keen on it.

2) We have budgies, but they're not in the same area as him typically, and we have a very old blind dog that doesn't go outside or interact with him.

Monty doesn't seem to have a favourite person yet, but he will trust anyone holding food or the target stick pretty much to the ends of the earth (so long as hands aren't involved). We didn't think we'd get very far with harness training at all due to the hands issue, but we've somehow gotten it to the point where he will rush up to the harness and - willingly - shove his whole head through the smallest loop, without struggle/hesitation/biting. When he does that, there's a hand on either side of his head, holding the harness, but apparently that's not a threat to him; it seems like it's only when a hand is right in front of him that he takes offence.

In terms of cage time, he has a large cage outdoors and gets about 60mins out of cage time per day. Because of the biting issue, the out of cage time is mostly 10-20min sessions at a time (three or four times a day - morning/noon/evening), with the target stick, training him. Monty can't really be trusted to 'just chill' on a perch or with a toy, as on previous attempts he's abandoned perches and chewing or foraging activities after 1-2 minutes to rush and attack the dreaded hands (and this has resulted in the worst/bloodiest of the biting). It's like he needs to be kept constantly distracted from the fact hands exist, though as I type that, I'm thinking maybe it's more of an attention-craving thing.

3) The cage is outdoors, facing two windows (loungeroom/kitchen) and half of it backs onto my bedroom window (so if he chooses to go over, he can see directly in there if I have the curtains open). It's in a very active zone - we're naturally outdoorsy types and we tend to work/read/eat/garden in the area his cage was already in. I also tend to work at my desk in my bedroom, though I close the curtains at night.

The cage is on wheels and can be moved around. It's an Avi One Parrot Cage and the dimensions are 190cm x 101cm x 76cm. Once Monty can be trusted to play with toys or chill on a perch without trying to destroy our fingers, there are playstands and a gym waiting for him inside as well.

4) Yes, the training perch is below eye level.

5) I have no idea if Monty's been spoon fed or not. I know he'll happily take food out of your hand, and will take a seed from between your fingers without biting - but he will bite an empty hand with mighty ferocity, and he'll also bite an empty hand after taking food from it.

6) What method would you suggest for pressure bite training? I think if I was to shout NO or yelp, it might actually make him bite down harder.

And here's a few photos (the last one is from when he was first brought home, thus indoors). It's not easy to get photos of him - as soon as I pull out my phone, he rushes up and starts trying to mug for the camera!

The line (it looks like a crack?) on his beak is on both sides; not sure what that indicates, if it indicates anything. The vet didn't seem to think much of it.
 

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Scott

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RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Welcome to you and Monty, gorgeous and spirited RBC! As previously stated, the "baggage" carried by rescue parrots is staggering and unknowable. Previous owners often understate potential trauma and abuse for ego and self-protection.

Definitely recommend Bite Pressure Training: https://www.parrotforums.com/threads/bite-pressure-training.63988/

Beak fissures appear normal as replacement keratin.
 

wrench13

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My personal take on this: I would have his wings clipped, temporarily, so there can be an element of control. Second I would use the shunning method of establishing bite control. Shunning, just like it sounds, is done immediately when a bite occurs. A forceful NO BITE, and then depositing him on a handy nearby chair back ( not his cage!). Turn your back to him, no eye contact, no discussing him at all, nothing, AND HIDE THE HANDS. DO this for a minute or so not much longer or the lesson is lost. It must be done every time a bite occurs and it must be done by everyone. Training parrots is an object lesson in being consistent.

Once he learns his manners, its time to let the wings grow out and allow him access to people when he wants it.

Again, my opinion and what I;d do if faced with the conditions. Clipping wings can be a hot button, rightly so, but thats my take.
 

Scott

Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
Aug 21, 2010
32,125
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San Diego, California USA, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy
Parrots
Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
My personal take on this: I would have his wings clipped, temporarily, so there can be an element of control. Second I would use the shunning method of establishing bite control. Shunning, just like it sounds, is done immediately when a bite occurs. A forceful NO BITE, and then depositing him on a handy nearby chair back ( not his cage!). Turn your back to him, no eye contact, no discussing him at all, nothing, AND HIDE THE HANDS. DO this for a minute or so not much longer or the lesson is lost. It must be done every time a bite occurs and it must be done by everyone. Training parrots is an object lesson in being consistent.

Once he learns his manners, its time to let the wings grow out and allow him access to people when he wants it.

Again, my opinion and what I;d do if faced with the conditions. Clipping wings can be a hot button, rightly so, but thats my take.
Excellent suggestion for situational wing clipping. Several years ago my extremely sweet Gabby (Goffins) turned hyper aggressive while molting. Took her to CAV for well check, vet opined moderate clipping might reset. Worked like a charm, never had to repeat.
 

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