Parrotlets might be small birds, even smaller than parakeets, but they’re feisty. Their attitude and big personalities can be an issue for you, your kids, and other pet birds if you have any. So, why are parrotlets aggressive? Let’s get to the bottom of this!
Yes, parrotlets can get very aggressive because of fear, jealousy, previous experiences, and hormonal changes. These tiny birds are also aggressive when protecting their territory or when they are bored.
Parrotlets can be aggressive to both humans and other pets because they have an attitude and get more agitated than other pet birds. They will bite when they don’t want to interact with you, like cuddling or playing. Parrotlets might try to dominate other pets and can be easily killed or injured because of their small size.
Aggression in parrotlets or other pet birds is a negative trait that should be stopped in its tracks.
Reasons a Parrotlet Can Become Aggressive
Fear—this occurs in pet parrotlets that are not comfortable around humans. For example, a parrotlet that wasn’t socialized from a young age will develop aggressive behavior when touched or handled. Such a bird will be afraid of people, other birds, pets, and new experiences.
Jealousy—Parrotlets are small and intelligent parrots. These pet birds are aware of their surroundings and develop jealousy when the owner interacts with other people or pets. That’s because they have a natural pair-bonding instinct and might see their owner as a partner.
Previous experiences–birds can also become aggressive because of poor living conditions, like being neglected or mistreated by their previous owner.
Hormonal changes–some birds develop aggressive behavior because of hormonal changes when they reach adolescence. However, aggression brought about by hormonal changes is not a big cause for concern because it passes with time.
Protecting their territory—Parrotlets are territorial and can become aggressive when housed with other birds.
Boredom or lack of mental stimulation—a stressed bird with little enrichment in its enclosure can develop aggression due to a lack of mental stimulation.
How to Stop Aggressive Behavior in Parrotlets
Taming a parrotlet to make it more bonded to all family members, including other pets, is the only way to get rid of aggression. However, this takes time, and this is how you do it:
Identify Why Your Parrotlet is Aggressive
Because every bird is an individual, investigate why your parrotlet is aggressive. It would be best to observe the bird’s behavior during interactions with you and other people and pets in your home. If your parrotlet lashes out at you when you touch it, you might be mishandling it.
How do you handle a parrotlet? When handling a parrotlet, please don’t squeeze the chest or grab it by the tail, legs, or wings. You gently wrap one hand around its body, but two hands are better. Be gentle and offer treats to make it feel comfortable with you.
Use Desensitization Training to Get Rid of Aggressive Behavior in Parrotlets
If your bird gets angry at certain movements, sounds, sights, or people, you should think about desensitization training.
Desensitization training is practical if your pet bird bites while you are trying to handle it. This type of training makes any interaction with the bird a positive one; it will be more comfortable with you and won’t bite.
You can also use desensitization training if your bird is aggressive toward new people, as follows:
Have your visitor leave a treat in the cage while the bird is fully aware. Then, have every visitor leave a treat in the cage every time they come over to your place, and with time, your parrot will become more comfortable with your guests.
Avoid Yelling or Physically Punishing Your Parrotlet
Don’t yell or raise your voice in pain or anger when your bird does something wrong. Any improper response towards the negative behavior of the parrotlet acts as reinforcement. Physically punishing the bird is also not an option because you’ll only encourage any negative behavior.
Therefore, you should closely monitor any interaction between your parrotlet and children or visitors. For example, a sharp bite from a parrotlet could startle a small child and cause them to kill or injure the bird accidentally.
Never Force Contact When Interacting with a Parrotlet
If your bird attempts to bite you when you place your hand near it, don’t jerk your hand away. Any fast movement when interacting with your bird will make it more uneasy.
Be gentle, take it slow, and don’t force contact if your bird shows signs it doesn’t want to be touched.
Move The Cage to a Neutral Location
If you think your bird is acting out because it wants to defend its territory, move the cage to a neutral spot when you are training or playing with it. Moving the parrotlet to a neutral location can make your bird less aggressive and more willing to cooperate.
Stick to The Routine
Parrotlets quickly get used to a routine and adapt to it. Therefore, repetition and consistency are vital when training and interacting with it. Make time to train and play with your parrotlet at least once a day; if you do it consistently, it will trust you.
Don’t Encourage Pair Bonding
As discussed earlier, parrotlets have the natural pair bond instinct and might see their owners as partners.
You’ll need to socialize if your bird is jealous of your interactions with other people and pets. With proper socialization, your pet bird will not perceive others as threatening its relationship with you.
Allow your visitors to offer your bird a treat every time they enter the house. Since these birds respond positively to praise, teach your visitors how to praise the bird in a friendly, cheerful tone to reinforce exemplary behavior.
Strangers or anyone else the bird sees as a threat to your relationship can also chip in with cage cleaning and feeding.
Use Stick Training
Training a parrotlet to step up on a perch or stick is one of the most effective methods of establishing you as the alpha.
Training a parrotlet to step up is easy: hold your finger by its chest and say, “Step up!”. Offer a treat if the bird steps up, and don’t forget to praise it for good behavior. You can also use a hand-held perch or branch when training your parrotlet to step up.
Enrich Its Habitat
Parrotlets require a big cage of 18 x 18 inches, even though they only grow to about 5 inches. Being energetic birds, they also need a lot of time out of the cage to burn off the extra energy.
Enrich the bird’s cage by adding multiple perches or branches. Ideally, the perches should be made of different materials and have varying thicknesses. Also, don’t forget to add a few swinging perches because they provide mental stimulation and much-needed physical exercise.
Add food-dispensing toys or cover some treats with cardboard or piles of newspaper to encourage the bird to forage.
Provide the parrotlet with puzzles and chew toys to keep it entertained and mentally stimulated when you’re away from home. The toys should have different colors and textures and be durable.
Get lots of toys and rotate them weekly so the bird doesn’t get bored.
What are the best toys for Parrotlets? The best toys for parrotlets are the ones marked for conures and cockatiels. Don’t buy the toys sold for finches and budgies because they’ll break easily.
Get Your Parrotlet a Playmate
Parrotlets are social birds and are commonly kept in a pair. However, the birds should not sleep in the same cage to prevent territorial aggression. Even if you have two birds, spend as much time as possible improving the bond.
If All Else Fails, Take the Parrotlet to a Vet or a Certified Trainer
Take your bird to the vet if you suspect the sudden behavior change is due to illness. For example, if your bird is normally laid-back but suddenly becomes aggressive, you should take it to the vet for a checkup. The vet will also check to see if the bird is hormonal and offer a working solution.
If your bird’s aggression is not due to illness, discomfort, or hormonal issues, take it to a bird trainer or behaviorist.
The Do’s and Don’ts When Interacting With a Parrotlet
|What To Do||What Not To Do|
|Hold your parrotlet with both hands and place one hand’s thumb and index finger on its back. The other hand should gently wrap around the body.||Handling a parrotlet too strongly or grabbing it by the tail, legs, or wings. Lash out or physically punish your parrotlet.|
|Use desensitization training if your bird gets agitated by certain movements, sights, sounds, and people. Be gentle, even if your bird takes a bite at you.||Jerk your hand away if your pet parrotlet bites you.|
|Always identify when your pet bird wants to interact with you.||Force your parrotlet to interact with you.|
|Move a cage to a neutral location when interacting.||Interacting with your parrotlet when portraying territorial antics.|
|Stick to a training, playing, and interacting routine.||Inconsistently interacting, training, and playing with your parrotlet.|
|Socialize your parrotlet with other people and pets.||Keep your pet birds away from other people and pets, including your visitors.|
|Use stick training to establish authority.||Allowing your parrotlet to lead the way during training.|
|To keep the parrotlet busy, add perches, food-dispensing toys, puzzles, and chew toys to its home.||Not adding enough toys and perches to your parrotlet’s cage.|
|Give your bird enough time out of the cage.||Keeping your parrotlet caged up.|
|Get your parrotlet a playmate and spend as much time as possible with them. Also, don’t allow them to sleep in the same cage.||Not getting your parrotlet a playmate or giving each bird its own sleeping space.|
Parrotlets are tiny birds, but you must be prepared to deal with their high energy and aggressive nature. It would help if you accepted that these birds are wired differently, and only then will you have a good relationship with your feathery friends.