Cockatoos are amazing pets to own. Even though they make too much noise, they are trainable to make brilliant companions, especially in a home with kids. Cockatoos are cuddly and get attached to their owners. So, is this a good thing, or could it lead to behavioral problems when left alone? Let’s figure it out.
Cockatoos are cuddly because of their upbringing in the wild. Young cockatoos stay with their parents longer than usual, sometimes past weaning age, and even when mature, they keep a close-knit family. In captivity, cockatoos are separated from their parents early and become attached to humans, making them cuddly.
The following is a breakdown of why cockatoos are so cuddly
Raising of a Cockatoo in the Wild
Cockatoos stay with their parents for more extended periods compared to other birds. For example, a juvenile cockatoo can remain under the parent’s care for about six months, even past their weaning age.
At what time do cockatoos leave the nest?
Cockatoos leave their nests after five to six months. Cockatoos start trying their flying abilities at four months old but remain under their parents’ care until they can forage for food and fly. After a whole month of fledging, cockatoos become independent. So, a cockatoo stays with its parents for about five to six months.
It’s only partially known whether this is due to the young cockatoo’s unwillingness to leave or the parents’ insistence that it stays. Whatever the reason, a cockatoo raised in captivity doesn’t enjoy extended time with its parents and, therefore, similarly bonds with its human family.
Cockatoos Keep a Close-Knit Family in the Wild
Cockatoos stay in a flock until they reach sexual maturity, about three to four years old.
Cockatoos stay close when going about their daily activities in the wild. So if you spot a young cockatoo, the chances are that its parents or the flock it was born into are nearby or keeping a keen eye on it from a distance.
Staying close together makes the birds feel safe and guarantees food because they can forage together.
Cockatoos are intelligent birds who understand there’s safety and comfort in numbers. So, physical interaction with other birds in the flock is more engrained in cockatoos than in other pet bird species.
At home, a cockatoo will want to constantly cuddle with its human parents or other family members to feel safe. A cockatoo will also cuddle with you to entice you to provide treats. A captive-bred cockatoo requires lots of physical attention because it didn’t spend enough time with its tight-knit family in the wild.
Problems with a cuddly cockatoo
A cuddly cockatoo can either show normal behavior, like trying to get your attention or allowing handling, etc., or abnormal behavior, like becoming needy, regurgitating, or plucking. A cockatoo that’s cuddled constantly will become needy and demanding as it grows and will not get through the day with its favorite companion.
Stop these behaviors dead in their tracks, or you will have problems with your pet too.
Expected Behavior of a Cuddly Cockatoo
The following are the typical behaviors you can expect from your cuddly cockatoo:
Snuggling Up to You
Many people, especially kids, love cockatoos because they’re so cuddly. A cuddly cockatoo will rest on your chest and its head on your shoulder. It can stay there for as long as you allow it to because that’s how these birds show affection and love to humans.
Constantly Trying to Get Your Attention
Cockatoos love showing off and do everything to grab attention.
For example, a cockatoo will flash its crest and move around in the cage to get your attention. When out of the cage, a cockatoo will fly over to you, perch on your shoulder, and nudge your ear, hair, and neck until you notice it.
The Cockatoo will allow Handling
Cockatoos are highly affectionate birds and need more human touch and handling. A cockatoo that loves and trusts its human counterparts will do almost anything to stay close to them.
Cockatoos love being held, talked to, and caressed by humans. When handled, they can show their human parents love and affection and form a strong bond with them.
Weird or Abnormal Behavior of a Cuddly Cockatoo
The following are weird and abnormal behaviors of a cuddly cockatoo that must be stopped:
- Screaming non-stop
- Developing aggressive behavior
- Plucking its feathers
- Developing hormonal issues
A Cuddly and Affectionate Cockatoo Might Regurgitate for You
Regurgitating food is one of a cockatoo’s ways of showing affection to its human owner. It’s a sign that the bird is comfortable and bonded to you and a way of showing love and respect.
Many people don’t like this behavior because the “present” your cockatoo is giving you is vomit. However, don’t discipline your cockatoo if he or she regurgitates for you. Instead, look for other training methods to stop this behavior.
Cockatoos make sounds and noises to communicate, but they scream to get attention. Screaming is a negative trait, especially if your cockatoo does it to get your attention at different times during the day.
Depending on the species, a cockatoo can scream up to 135 decibels. Such noise will make it uncomfortable to stay in the house and get you in trouble with your neighbors.
You can buy a training program to stop your cockatoo from screaming or hire a bird trainer to help you out.
Developing Aggressive Behavior
A needy cockatoo that always wants to cuddle up next to you can become aggressive when ignored or left alone for a long time. It will throw tantrums and become aggressive towards other members of the family.
Aggression also happens when you stop giving your cockatoo the same level of affection as you did before.
Plucking Its Feathers
A cockatoo will pluck its feathers when neglected for an extended period. Plucking feathers usually happens when you cuddle less with your cockatoo than before. Your cockatoo will pluck its feathers as a sign of frustration at being neglected or ignored.
Again, this is a negative behavior that shouldn’t be allowed to continue.
Cockatoo Developing Hormonal Issues
A cockatoo can develop hormonal issues due to cuddling and touching. If your cockatoo spreads her wings, hunkers down, and pants when cuddled or touched, it can be a sign of sexual stimulation.
Do not touch or cuddle with a cockatoo exhibiting hormonal issues because you’ll encourage this behavior. Hormonal issues usually happen with female cockatoos, especially during the breeding season. However, it doesn’t mean that you should neglect your pet cockatoo. Don’t allow cuddling, and restrict touching to the top of the head only.
How to Keep a Cockatoo Cuddly and Entertained While Avoiding Inappropriate Behavior
Understand your cockatoo—even though every bird is an individual, don’t drastically change how you interact with your cockatoo. Instead, find what works for you and your bird and adjust accordingly.
Choose a large cage—always buy a large cockatoo cage when looking for a proper enclosure for your pet bird. The best-sized cage for a cockatoo should be 3 feet high, 2 feet wide, and 5 feet long. Such a cage provides enough room to fly around and additional space for toys and perches.
Add different perches—a cockatoo’s cage should have at least three perches in different sizes and materials. Plastic, wood, rope, and cement are the best perches to add to the cage.
Include plenty of play options—cockatoos are intelligent birds and need toys to keep their brains stimulated. You should provide foraging toys, chewing toys, preening toys, shredding toys, exercise toys, and comfort toys. Don’t forget to install swing ropes because cockatoos love to swing.
Provide shredding material—these pet birds love chewing and destroying things in the cage. So, don’t deny them this opportunity and provide wood, ropes, and cardboard to rip apart.
Play puzzle games with your cockatoo—instead of just cuddling with your pet bird, play puzzle games with it and offer treats as a reward.
Keep the cage near the window—a cockatoo’s cage should be near or across the window where it can see the outside at an angle. However, please don’t keep the cage near the window where it gets direct sunlight. The beneficial rays will reach the cage even inside the house. Also, a cockatoo should get 30 minutes of direct sunlight per week.
Leave the radio and TV on when you’re out—a TV or a radio will keep your cockatoo entertained when you’re away for a few hours. They love music and unique sounds and can even learn to mimic what they’ve heard.
Spend time with your cockatoo by teaching it to speak, do tricks, and use a clicker to reinforce good behavior. Also, let your cockatoo loose inside your home and play interactive games like dancing, fetch, peek-a-boo, blink, and dress up, to name but a few.
Why are cockatoos so affectionate?
Cockatoos are affectionate because it's in their nature to be social birds. They are easy to train and tame and enjoy spending time with humans.
Where is the best place to touch a newly bought cockatoo?
The head is the safest place to touch a newly bought cockatoo because it's not too intrusive. However, don't touch the beak if the cockatoo is not socialized enough or comfortable around you to avoid being bit.
Do cockatoos get too attached to their owners?
Yes, cockatoos get too attached to their owners for many reasons. Getting attached usually happens when the bird sees the owner as a mate instead of a companion. So, avoid giving your pet cockatoo full body strokes or petting under the wings or down the back.
Cockatoos are excellent pets at home and make great family members, especially in a house with kids. They are cuddly, and this is one reason cockatoos make great pets.
Cuddle with your cockatoo and keep it consistent to avoid behavioral problems. Spend time with your pet bird, playing and interacting, and you’ll have a happy feathery friend for many years. Love your cockatoo and allow it to love you back.