by Diane Burroughs March 24, 2016 6 min read 3 Comments

Why Parrots Bite Their Feet

It is scary when your parrot is biting its feet or legs until they bleed. Any kind of self-mutilation is cause for alarm.  But, a birds' feet are especially prone to infection simply by perching on bacteria-infested perches.  Plus, many species eat with their feet.  Birds may bite feet for either medical or emotional reasons. Anytime that a bird is tearing into its skin, you should seek medical consultation. 

As a prevention measure, make sure to routinely check your parrots' feet and legs for sores or wounds. You'll want to inspect both the top of the feet and the pads.  Also, make sure that you rotate and clean all perches on a routine basis.  

Medical Causes of Why Parrots Bite Their Feet

There are a number of medical causes for a parrot biting its feet so you'll want to make sure to get a good workup at your avian veterinarians' office. Bacteria, Fungal or Viral Infections could be one of the reasons for a parrot biting its feet. These infections normally cause the feet of the parrot to become inflamed, leading to the parrot biting its feet. The irritation caused by inflammation and infections is one of the main reasons why parrots excessively bite their feet as a reaction to the irritation.

Avian herpesvirus is one of the common causes of infections. This disease is highly contagious among birds and is transferred through physical contact.  

Papilloma is a warty growth on the legs of the infected birds. This is another disease caused by a herpesvirus infection. It usually appears in Cacatua species of birds. Another type of papilloma disease can cause a loss of color in the macaws’ feet.

Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection occurring on the feet of the parrot. It normally causes sores of its feet. This condition is caused by several factors that you can easily manage. The good thing is that bumblefoot is not contagious among birds. You can manage the condition by ensuring that the parrots' perch is properly sized, that you feed your parrot a healthy diet and that its cage is frequently and properly sanitized.

Pododermatitis or “Bumblefoot” can result in many health issues and the severity is rated by grades. The causes of the various grades of pododermatitis are often correctable by the avian caretaker.  Birds challenged with obesity, and lack of perch rotation are most certainly prone to bumblefoot condition. Other causes include diets low in Vitamin A & E, excessive use of grooming perches, lack of exercise, and exposure to cigarette smoke. Get some vitamin-rich Red Palm Oil to relieve deficiencies.

parrot biting feet treatment

Dermatitis is a common skin allergy that affects parrots and it is cause for a veterinary consultation. It usually involves itchy, dry skin or a rash on swollen, reddened skin. Or it may cause the skin to blister, ooze, crust or flake off. Parrots may be allergic to some of the following substances; nicotine residues, soap residues, perfumes or hand lotions. Some parrots have allergies to the items that their feet come into contact with causing inflammation and irritation.

Arthritis is a disease that is miserable due to the constant pain she must be going through. It affects the joints around her feet, spine, wings, and beak. It also affects the soft tissue between your birds' toes and foot joints causing swelling and maybe even sores. This will cause her to constantly peck on her feet. Arthritis may be treated medically by your avian vet. Pau 'd arco may also relieve inflammation and swelling.

Try to make some adjustments inside the cage to help her around in your bird perch on softer surfaces and get about to different stations easier. A soft floor surface may help as well as a soft sleeping perch. One way to tell if Tweety is suffering from arthritis is if she’s showing some of these signs;

  1. Warm and / or swollen joints. 
  2. If her toes become unnaturally shaped or appear disfigured.
  3. If she is having a hard time moving around in her cage and seems to frequently lose her balance.

Emotional Causes Why Parrots Bite Their Feet

Like humans, parrots are affected by certain emotional/psychological factors that cause them to develop harmful or repetitive behaviors, such as feather plucking and parrot chewing feet. Parrots get stressed out if their physical, social, intellectual and social needs are not met, resulting in high levels of anxiety.  An anxious bird may begin to self-mutilate an effort to relieve the anxiety.  Once a parrot learns that its own pain-relieving brain chemicals quickly relieves anxiety, the parrot becomes addicted to self-mutilation.

 parrot biting its feet


Parrots get stressed out if their physical, social, intellectual and social needs are not met, resulting in high levels of anxiety.

Boredom is one of the emotional causes of parrot biting feet. It takes creativity on your part to protect your bird from painful foot and leg biting. You should develop activities and toys that will always keep your parrot occupied. Figure out different interesting activities to keep your bird engaged.  You'll find some great solutions in our Parrot Enrichment Collection.

Parrot Biting Feet

Photo Source: Talk Parrots

More on anxiety, parrots are flock animals that rely on the group for safety.  Your pet is prone to developing anxiety when its social needs are not adequately met.  To deal with emotionally related parrot foot biting, reduce any stressors including stress caused by lack of enrichment and socialization.  Try to replicate your birds' natural environment as much as possible. The conditions under which your bird lives affect her psychological condition, which translates to anxiety disorders. A cozy, safe cage and environment with plenty of enrichment and socialization may deter anxiety-related parrot biting feet.

Correcting Parrot Biting Feet

Like a veterinarian would go about it, first identify if the biting is due to a medical problem, an emotional problem or both. Take your bird to your avian vet, who is better able to rule out medical causes. After you identify the cause of the behavior it becomes easy to eliminate the precipitating issue.

When correcting any type of infection, the first step of action is to rush to your avian vet who can provide the correct medication When you get your bird home, make sure to disinfect all perches and keep them clean while open wounds are healing.  Remember, most birds rub their beak on the perch to clean it after eating. Consider running them through the dishwasher for a deep clean. If your bird has trouble perching, lower perches inside of the cage and line the bottom of the cage with thick, fluffy towels to cushion falls.

Correcting Emotional Causes

We outlined boredom, fear, and anxiety as some of the emotional factors that lead to your parrot biting feet. It is important to note that the cage is not a natural habitat for your pet so you must take measures to make the cage safe, comfortable, clean and enriching. Therefore, try to create a cage that has as many characteristics of a parrots' natural habitat as possible. This will allow your parrot to be comfortably enriched.

Supplies That will Help You Protect Your Parrot from Biting Feet.

Parrot Biting feet

If you or your vet feel that your parrot is biting itself due to anxiety, consider parrot calming medications such as UnRuffledRx Parrot Calming Formula, UnRuffledRx Parrot Calming Herbs or simply brewing up some Chamomile Tea.

UnRuffledRx Bird Collars provide a safe barrier from your bird inflicting pain to her feet. It is affordable, durable, easy to use and customized to the size of your bird. A traditional bird collar may not be the best choice because if it is large enough to keep your bird from its' feet, it may inhibit activities of daily living such as eating, drinking, climbing and play. A Thick Tube Collar or soft neck collar restricts heavy neck movement while allowing your bird to eat, play, climb and otherwise enjoy life. The UnRuffledRx line is the first line of defense.  Avian veterinarians have access to hard plastic neck collars or bubble collars that offer more restriction of neck movement. 

Parrot Biting feet

Parrot Feet Biting Collar

Promptly Treat Parrot Foot and Leg Wounds

Leg and foot wounds are painful and especially prone to infection since they are so close to perching areas that harbor bacteria.  Keep the wounds clean and bandaged. We recommend that you check on the wounds at least daily.  Rinse the wound with Vet Aid Spray.  Cover with sterile gauze and hold the gauze in place with vet wrap. Make a short tab in the vet wrap as a deterrent for your pet to chew.

You may wish to get some pain and inflammation medications from your vet.  If you prefer over the counter medications such as Medihoney Wound Dressing or Vet Aid Spray make sure that you keep a close eye on the wounds. Secondary infections can get nasty fast so antibiotics may be required. 

So, in conclusion, there are a number of reasons why your beloved parrot may be biting its feet.  Always seek avian veterinarian advice, treat the underlying cause and wounds and exploring providing a barrier such as UnRuffledRX Bird Collars.


3 Responses


October 08, 2019

My parrots are biting their feet very often. It slightly started bleeding. What’s the treatment for it

Odette Birle
Odette Birle

February 13, 2018

My friends bird bit off a toe on each foot, it’s one eye is swollen it’s nostrils is getting bigger and draining. Breaking my heart to see. There isn’t money for vet. Anything I can do to help. She needs a bath w/distilled water I red. She had been fed junk food I can bring her better and fix the cage but I worry she need medicine we can’t get? Any help please


January 15, 2018

Bird my bird looks like it has a boil or something on his leg African Grey Parrot what should I do about it

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