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Baby Biting Severe

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Kally, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Kally

    Kally Regular Member

    Hi All,
    Although things have been going really well with our new Severe Macaw Kally, some days she bites! Other days she plays happily outside of her cage, cuddles up to us (as she is doing with my husband in the photo!), but other days she bites as soon as she comes out. They aren't hard bites - never broken the skin, but has left small bruises on my arm. I don't think it's aggressive because of this, but I'm not sure. We follow all the advice, ie say 'No', or 'Ouch', or touch her feet, she stops for a short time but then bites again after a few minutes.

    Any advice would be great! Thank you.

    On a lighter note, she plays a lot on the floor now, rather than trying to fly on my head! And she has a ball that she plays with and actually rolls over onto her back with the ball in her feet - it's hilarious to watch! She also does it in her cage - I tried to upload a video but it didn't work.


  2. Lisa7284

    Lisa7284 Regular Member

    Aww she sounds very sweet.

    Sorry I can't give any advice as I have never had a baby parrot. Lovely photo :)
  3. dianaT

    dianaT Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Oh dear sorry to hear re the biting. Can you remind us how old Kally is please? Have you looked in the thread on Behaviour/Biting/Training etc. There are many posts on there also maybe @Roz can add more.
  4. plumsmum

    plumsmum Regular Member

    Sorry no advice but she sure is adorable.
  5. Roz

    Roz Regular Member

    Hi Tina,

    She sure does look adorable!

    Re the bites. As with all behaviour something will be cue-ing the bite and something will be reinforcing it. We know it is being reinforced because the behaviour (biting) is continuing. To identify the cue you need to notice what comes immediately before the bite and to identify the reinforcer notice what comes immediately after the bite.

    It might be hard to distinguish what the cue might be... maybe hand (or whatever part of you gets bitten) is available. Maybe hand presented... maybe... (I don't know what the exact scenario is).

    Can you identify what could be reinforcing it? You saying "no" or "ouch" might very well be reinforcing it. She doesn't know what "no" or "ouch" means... it might just mean "attention" to her if she likes attention. Or if the bitten hand is snatched away it might be her way of removing the unwanted hand and wanting to be left alone for that moment.

    If you can identify the cue and the reinforcer, then it will help in deciding how to rectify the problem.

    This is my take on it from what you have written, but I might be completely wrong:

    I am thinking that she is getting attention for the biting... could it almost have become a game? If so, I would remove the reinforcement by immediately, calmly and without a word (no attention) putting her down for a moment. Then picking her up again when she's calm and gently reinforcing her calm behaviour. Then see if you can engage her in a different behaviour and highly reinforce! Repeat for each time she bites in that context.

    If however she is biting to make the hand go away that's a whole different problem that would need a different plan of action.

    What do you think the cue and the reinforcer for the biting is? It might not be the same every time.

    It's certainly better to deal with this now before it becomes a full blown problem. :)
    TomsMum and dianaT like this.
  6. Kally

    Kally Regular Member

    Hi Roz,

    Thank you for your reply. We don't get the feeling that she bites to make our hand go away, as there doesn't appear to be any aggression, ie she doesn't launch at our hand or show any unhappiness, it's almost as if she's just 'trying it out', and she voluntarily flies to my arm in the first place from her 'play perch'. We'll definitely try saying nothing and putting her down for a minute, as appreciate we could be reinforcing it by reacting.

    Last night she was brilliant - played out for ages without a single bite. She was on my lap and I was stroking her behind her head and she rolled over onto her back to have her belly tickled!

    @dianaT - Kally is 5 months old
    Roz and dianaT like this.
  7. Roz

    Roz Regular Member

    Sounds good then. :)

    That's excellent there was no biting last night.... she sounds so cute!