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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone!

This is my first time posting on this forum and I am hoping to get some support on dealing with a somewhat "prissy parrotlet" lol. Don't get me wrong I love Lilly to bits but she can be a bit temperamental. I've had Lilly for a month and I've done my research and read a lot of Nikki Moustaki's books on parrots as well as specifically parrotlets. Lilly was so shy when I first got her and definitely would label her "semi-tamed". Yes the breeder handfed her but she definitely didn't get any special attention. She was terrified of my hands and when I brought her home I definitely let her settle in and adapt to her new home. She was a little hesitant about me first but she has come leaps and bounds and most definitely is attached to me now and is quite sassy. Since she was scared of my hands i read that I could do "whittle-down" method of stick training and it worked! She was soon stepping up onto this little perch I had cut to about 18 inches or less. I also have been doing clicker training with her which she enjoys because she is a total millet junkie.

The problem started about a week ago and when i bring her out of the cage I usually ask if she wants to come out and use the mini perch to take her out and she has started lunging and attacking my fingers and biting HARD. I feel like I've done everything like not reacting and ignoring the bites, I also was told by a local breeder to give her a little flick with my finger (definitely not hard by any means), I've read to instead of pulling away to push back gently so that she will lose balance on the perch and catch her off guard (this one seemed to work before she started lunging). I still don't react when she bites but I fear that its going to become more frequent and worse (because before she didn't lunge). I also thought it might be hormonal BUT she is only 4 months almost 5 months old (her hatch date was march 2013).

If someone could give me advice I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks a lot.

I also have a lot of stimulating toys in her cage and interact with her quite a bit.

Rhiannon and Lilly the Parrotlet.
 

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Ahh the magic age 4 months! Think Terrible Twos!!! She is testing you big time. The lunging is her equivalent of the NO! Please don't flick (light or otherwise). If you have read any parrot book parrots do not do well with the punishment scenario and things go downhill real fast from there. Parrots work on the bribery and praise bandwagon. Catch them doing it right and praise praise praise. Gentle Beak works very well. When she lunges let her meet the back of your hand or make a fist so that you can't get hurt and do not react but say No Gentle Beak or No Bite however you want to phrase it. It takes a little effort and a few tries but it does work. Good luck. When I was the mother of a 2 year old my mother would say this will pass. Being the bird mother of a 4 month old I kept telling myself this will pass and it does.
 
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I would not flick a 4 month old. I do think there is a scenario that a flick may work but this is not it.

My birds were much older when I got them but any tameness they had was all but lost. Bo was scared to death of people, Jules was very sassy and confrontational. In our efforts of bringing them back from the dark side Jules at one point started acting very much as you have described. She became so aggressive and bitey that at one point my wife refused to clean their cage and work with them and was considering getting rid of them. At this point I got involved (they were my wife's birds, we now seem to be their slaves :rolleyes:) and what worked for us is that anytime Jules would lunge and bite us we would make our hand into a fist and turn the back of our hand to her. When your hand is a fist the skin on your hand gets tighter and it is harder for them to get a bite on it, though she did continue try. We would not only not move our hand away but we started to push our fisted hand into her personal space. Though we never touched her or pushed her. At one point it seemed that she was viewing our hand as another bird and was trying to relate to it similarly to the way she did Bo. At a certain point it seems she just accepted that our hands were part of her world, that they were not going away and she stopped lunging and biting (occasionally when she is excited she might regress). Now my problem is that she seems to view my hands as a carnival ride and likes to jump on them and ride them around the cage as I clean it. :p Always a surprise a minute with a parrotlet. Love these little guys. :)
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks a lot Jeannepp and Ozzie both your messages really helped and made me feel better :)
I also agree with you on the flicking.. when I did attempt it (only once) if anything she got more aggravated with me.

Rhiannon & Lilly
 

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Thanks a lot Jeannepp and Ozzie both your messages really helped and made me feel better :)
I also agree with you on the flicking.. when I did attempt it (only once) if anything she got more aggravated with me.

Rhiannon & Lilly
What you are going through is fairly common so I would not worry too much. :) I have heard a lot of reasons for this behavior. The "terrible twos", hormones, territorial, etc. My personal belief based on Jules behavior and age is that this behavior is some form of flock dynamics / pecking order behavior. In Jules case I think it was her trying to figure out :confused: where she, Bo, I and my wife fit in our newly formed flock.
 

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I too make a fist when Timmy tries to bite and it works well. I don't get hurt and he gives up.
 

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Anything punitive, whatsoever, will diminish their ability to trust us. I won't take time to re-state all the great advice above, but I'd like to add a couple more ideas for you to keep in mind in case you need to zero in on a solution.

"Earthquaking" is a technique where you jostle your hand on which they are perched and simulate an earthquake. This is not seen as coming from you and is therefore not interpreted as punitive--it literally seems like an earthquake and your involvement--as far as they're concerned--is the hero to rescue them. This is another method of balance breaking, much like the personal space comments above, but comes from an outside source instead of you. Before long, they become conditioned to relate biting to an uneasy ground. The biting will always occur, but this can be an effective way to immediately stop it. Be sure you distinguish between Lilly using her beak to climb and move about versus actual biting. Our Björk will often push limits by climbing very slowly and biting very hard as she does so, almost as if a way to manipulate us into permitting the biting because "all I'm doing is climbing, so you can't make me stop!" We still address that just the same as regular biting.

"Laddering" is when you leap-frog your index fingers, repeating the step up command. Be very careful to not do this out of frustration--it's just the same as a normal step up as if nothing had happened. It helps distract from the biting, changes the environment, and reminds Lilly that you're the dominant one. She can read your facial expressions very well, so consider also silently giving her a nasty, dirty scowl for a couple seconds before laddering (but be sure to reset your expression to normal before laddering so as not to condition fear in association with stepping up). You'll feel ridiculous scowling at her, but you'll be surprised at its effectiveness!
 

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As others said, do not flick. It will most definitely worsen the situation. The person she is learning to trust is now threatening or scaring her, not to mention, it only takes one time, when you are angry in the midst of your flick, to flick too hard and hurt her.

I used the earthquake technique on Milo and it worked well. Also, now when he gets moderately bitey, I massage the feathers directly on the sides of his beak, like the gentle beak technique, and he becomes mush. If it is a really aggressive "attack", like if he gets mad about something and starts lunging, it's a firm "no biting" and immediately to the cage. He has recently started to "apologize" for his bites when he reacts impulsively to something and licks the spot on our hand that he bit right after. It's pretty funny actually and makes it hard to get mad.

Also, you said that she starts biting when you take her out on the perch. Are you putting the perch in the cage to get her out? Or letting her come out on her own to the perch? Some p'lets will never tolerate hands in their cage, even those who have bonded to their owners for years. So if you are reaching into the cage to put the perch near her, maybe try letting her venture out on her own, and then presenting the perch while she is on or near the outside of the cage.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone for the great advice!

She tried to lunge at me today.. but it only lasted a brief moment ... All i did was turn the back of my wrist to her and let her have a hissy fit leading her to realize she couldn't really grab on to any skin! I also added "No bite" when she was lunging. Also I ask her if she wants to come out and if she does I let her venture out on her own to the entrance of her cage.
 

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Thanks everyone for the great advice!

She tried to lunge at me today.. but it only lasted a brief moment ... All i did was turn the back of my wrist to her and let her have a hissy fit leading her to realize she couldn't really grab on to any skin! I also added "No bite" when she was lunging. Also I ask her if she wants to come out and if she does I let her venture out on her own to the entrance of her cage.
Sounds like you are getting the hang of it.

These guys have a mind of their own, it is always considered "polite" to indicate that you want to engage and let them come to you if they are up to it. Sometimes that means stepping away for a few minutes till they decide that they want to play, other times it might mean you have to coax them out. But usually they will come a running willingly.

With my guys I usually spend a few minutes talking with them and cleaning around the cage area till they calm down a little before we play, step up, etc. if I try to play too soon I may either scare them or they may get a little lungey and bitey in the excitement of the moment..


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