African Grey parrots are generally known to be quirky, moody, and temperamental. Aside from these seemingly negative attributes, African Grey parrots are also highly intelligent. These characteristics all make up an interesting and amazing pet to have.
But, what should you do if your beloved African Grey parrot exhibits bad behavior like biting? Should you send him back to the pet shop or pet breeder he came from? Should you set him free in the wild? Before you take any of these drastic measures, you should first find out with is making your parrot behave that way.
The first reason that your African Grey parrot bites is because of its high intelligence. Their superior “parrot” minds give then the sense that they can lord it over the other birds that are not as smart as they are. Unfortunately, the African Grey parrot will also try to assert his dominion over you, his primary care-provider. The attempt to dominate you can be seen when he uses his beak as a weapon. In this sense, he uses biting as a defense mechanism.
The second reason that your African Grey parrot bites you is because he has learned that he gets what he wants by biting. Maybe in the past, he got what he wanted from you when he accidentally bit you. Your smart bird made a connection between biting and getting what he wants. In this situation, biting is a learned “bad” behavior.
With the two reasons that your African Grey parrot bites your or others, you should not just sit there and wait for the bad behavior to go away. You have to be proactive in this matter. You should show your parrot that you are the boss, not the other way around. You should instill discipline in your parrot so that he knows his boundaries and limitations.
The first thing that you need to do is to clip his wings. This may seem inhumane at first, but it is necessary if you are to maintain a good relationship with your parrot. Clipped wings mean that he has to depend on you to get from one place to another. This gives your smart parrot the idea that he depends on you; therefore, you are his boss.
The second thing you need to do to modify biting behavior is to tell him in firm voice that he did something “bad”. This will be understood by your parrot as a form of punishment which he definitely will not like. However, do not resort to physical punishment as the parrot will withdraw from you. Just remember: every time your parrot bites you, do not reward the bad behavior by shouting out loud or screaming. Your parrot might like your reaction and bite you again in the future just to elicit the same “entertaining” reaction from you. Instead, don’t show any form of reaction.
The last thing you need to do is to give your African Grey lots of praise when he does not bite you. Instances for biting are possible every time you give him food and allow him to step up to your finger of wrist. When he doesn’t bite you at all, give him words of praise along with treats.