Budgies have sharp beaks and a strong bite for their diminutive size.
As an owner, it’s normal to get bitten occasionally, especially when dealing with a new budgie or young budgie that’s still learning.
However, this should stop as the budgie matures, starts to trust you, and settles down. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to correct its behavior.
If the biting continues, the budgie may be bored with its food, frustrated with the cage’s cleanliness, or feeling unwell, so it’ll bite to express its discontentment.
How Do You Stop A Budgie From Biting
Aggressive budgie biting can be harmful, especially if targeted at you or other pets. According to Hand (N.Y), parrot bites are more likely to result in infection and other conditions than most pet bites.
Here are some ways to prevent budgies from biting:
Develop a Bond
Budgies are less likely to bite people they know well and trust.
If your budgie is new to your home, fear or anxiety is the most likely reason for its biting. Budgies are social and friendly birds, but they’re also prone to reacting with aggression if they’re upset.
Having a strange hand approach can trigger biting, especially if you reach inside the budgie’s cage, thus invading its territory. It may bite to defend itself.
When you adopt a budgie, allow at least 4-5 weeks to adjust to its new soundings. During this period, try to form a friendly bond with it.
Calm It Down
Perhaps you’ve introduced a new pet, changed the location of its cage, or changed something about yourself.
These changes (and new faces) can lead to anxious biting, especially if your budgie only bites when these new pets are around or shortly after the big change.
To stop the biting, calm your budgie down before handling it. Play soft, classical music, cover its cage so that it winds down, and speak to it gently.
You can also try handling your budgie more when the new faces are not around. Once the budgie is calm and docile, introduce it carefully to the new pet or person so that it warms up to the idea.
Avoid touching or playing with your budgie when it’s wound up. Never force a budgie to play, as it’ll only get frustrated. It won’t help with the anxiety that causes it to bite.
Teach It “No”
Some budgies develop a biting habit because they don’t know how to gauge their beak strength.
If they weren’t taught early on by their original owner or their parents, they may confuse preening and kissing with hard biting. Training the budgie to use its mouth carefully thus falls to you.
You can teach a budgie that biting is harmful and unwanted behavior by doing the following:
- Every time the budgie reaches out to bite you, remove your hand and tell it firmly, “no.”
- If the budgie manages to bite you, then exclaim “ow” in a firm tone and remove your hand.
- Tell it “no,” and then ignore the budgie.
- Refuse to interact with it for a few minutes, even if the budgie seeks your attention.
Budgies are social animals and crave the company of others. Once your budgie learns that biting hard means getting deprived of attention and a playmate, it should stop this behavior.
Associating the action with “no” will also let you correct the behavior quickly. In the future, you can use the command to teach the budgie that certain actions, including hard bites or attempted bites, are not allowed.
Provide More Attention
Your budgie may be biting you as a form of attention-seeking. If you’ve reacted strongly in the past to getting bitten (which is natural), the budgie may have learned that biting gets your undivided attention.
It may also be acting out of frustration and loneliness, engaging in destructive behavior as it does. Such behavior includes biting but can also involve feather-plucking, destroying toys, and screaming. A lonely budgie can be a sad budgie, but it can also be a biting-prone one.
The best way to resolve this kind of biting is to give your budgie more attention. Correct it firmly if it bites you, but once it’s been disciplined with a time-out, give it your undivided attention. Just be sure the time-out lasts several minutes so your budgie doesn’t feel it’s being rewarded for the bite.
Your attention can involve playing with the budgie, talking, singing, and dancing. You can also let it out of its cage more often, so it can get other forms of enrichment.
Something Else To Chew On
Your budgie may lack better things to chew on, so it bites you.
This is often the case for young budgies that don’t know any better. After correcting the budgie with a “no” and a time-out, provide it with a chew toy. The budgie will usually prefer gnawing on these over you.
This can also work if your budgie is biting you out of anxiety or overstimulation. It allows you to divert your budgie’s attention to a more productive task.
It’ll learn that chewing on this toy, and toys like it, is acceptable behavior and doesn’t get it a time-out.
Another Budgie for Company
If you’ve tried the above techniques and your budgie is still biting, it may be biting on you because it’s feeling bored or lonely. Perhaps you can’t spend enough time with it, or the number of toys it has just won’t suffice.
In this case, a second budgie will provide welcome company and enrichment. With the outlet of a cage mate, it should dull down on its negative behavior, including biting.
Diet and Cleanliness
Your budgie may be frustrated, feeling sick, or dissatisfied with its living conditions. For example, a budgie that’s bored with its food may start trying to chew on everything else, including your fingers.
So, offer a wider variety of food, including fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. A seed-only diet will get boring fast and could lead to nutrient deficiencies that manifest as bad behavior.
The same is true of budgies kept in unclean environments. If the budgie’s cage isn’t cleaned frequently, the parrot may start to turn destructive. It’s not uncommon for biting, screaming, feather plucking, and fighting to occur.
What To Do If Your Budgie Bites You
Never reward biting. Rewarding this bad behavior can be done accidentally and may even come as a reflex. For example, crying out (especially if the bite hurts) may come naturally.
However, this may startle the budgie and cause it to bite again. In some cases, it teaches the budgie that it has caught your attention because of the obvious reaction. It will then try to bite again, just to get a reaction again.
Every time your budgie bites, be sure to avoid:
- Withdrawing, yelling, or shrieking at your bird all of a sudden.
- Stroking your budgie gently.
- Spraying water or anything else in your budgie’s direction.
- Tapping on your budgie’s beak (no matter how gently you think you are doing it).
Instead, react calmly. The bite may hurt, but this is a great opportunity to train your budgie to stop the behavior. Training can even help strengthen the bond you share and serve as a gateway to teaching other necessary habits.
How To Teach A Budgie To Stop Biting
According to Behavioral Ecology, budgies are capable of learning tricks and adhering to commands.
So, it’s possible to train biting out of your budgie. Just make sure your parrot isn’t biting you out of a behavioral problem, such as anxiety, fear, or frustration.
Those problems will need to be solved at their root. If your budgie is merely young, however, or doesn’t know better, these tricks can help:
- Pull your hand away from the budgie when it bites you
- Teach the budgie “no” by saying the word firmly as you do
- Be sure not to yell, scold, or hit the budgie, or else it will only learn to fear you (and this could lead to more biting)
- Ignore the budgie for several minutes after it’s been told “no”
- After this time-out, give the budgie your attention again
- If it tries to bite you again, repeat the process
- If the budgie isn’t getting the idea, try placing it back in its cage and ignoring it until several minutes later
- Once the budgie has had time to calm down (and lost its playing privileges), try again
Most budgies learn their lesson by this point, but it might be riled or think that biting gets it more attention based on previous experience.
In this case, you may need to put a cover over the budgie’s cage so that it has time to wind down more. This also sends a strong message to the budgie that it will be deprived of your attention altogether if it hurts you.
- After a few minutes, return to the budgie and give it your attention.
- If it behaves and doesn’t attempt to bite you, give it a treat
- Tell it that it’s a good bird and speak to it in warm, encouraging tones
- Repeat every few minutes unless your budgie tries to bite you again
- If it does, return to the beginning of the lesson and merely tell it “no” before ignoring it for a few moments
Budgies should quickly pick up the idea. As long as there’s no cause that’s stressing, scaring, or angering your budgie, it will opt for getting treats. Praise will always be more appealing than biting aggressively or too hard.