How to Keep Parrotlets From Biting

By Lauren Corona

The name parrotlet is a generic term for seven different parrot species, all of which are less than 6 inches long. These mini-parrots are popular pets, especially among those who might not have space for a larger parrot species. Parrotlets are known to be nippy if they're not trained and handled correctly, but with proper attention you can keep your pet from biting you.

Regular Handling

Handling your parrotlet regularly is essential to keep him tame and stop him from nipping or biting. Ideally, you should spend some time each day petting him, playing with him and handling him. These birds are highly social and must have plenty of human interaction to keep them happy, especially if you're only keeping a single parrotlet. Your avian pal may go through a biting stage for a number of weeks between the ages of 6 and 12 months. It's imperative that you work through this and keep handling him daily.

Just Say No

A firm "no" can work wonders when trying to keep your parrotlet from biting, but don't yell or pull your hand away. This kind of reaction can reinforce the behavior as your pet knows that biting will get a reaction. You also can distract your feathered friend by blowing gently on his face, or you can put him down on the floor where he will feel less secure. Never put him back in his cage as a punishment, as he might start to think of the cage as a bad place and not want to go back in once play time is over.

Be Gentle

Parrotlets may bite out of fear, so always be gentle and stay calm when interacting with your pet. Never hit, tap or push your bird with your hand. Not only is this an inappropriate way to treat an animal, but it also will cause your bird to have negative associations with your hand. So, when you reach out toward him, he may bite you as a perceived form of self-defense, even if you were only planning to pet him.

Learn the Signs

Parrotlets generally bond very closely with their owners, and see them as their equals, so they have no reason to bite unless the owner is doing something the parrotlet isn't pleased about. Learn the signs that your feathered friend gives you when you do something he doesn't like and stop doing it, then he won't feel the need to bite you. He usually will give you a gentle warning nip first, so you know that he's unimpressed. If he's nipping you to ask you to stop an action that you can't avoid, such as putting him back in the cage, use positive reinforcement so he associates the unwanted action with something good. For instance, give him a treat after he has been returned to his cage.