How to Prevent a Parrot from Chewing Furniture
Having a pet parrot can be a tough but highly rewarding experience. Larger parrots are some of the most intelligent pets out there, with their ability to learn to talk being a highly sought-after trait among pet lovers world-wide. Due to their bright and playful yet exotic nature, however, parrots are quite high-maintenance pets that love to chew wood. They've even been known to chew furniture to toothpicks.
The need to chew is an innate characteristic that parrots have to meet one way or another. If you have a parrot chewing furniture, remember, it can learn and practice new behaviors, good or bad, quite easily.
Parrots Need To Chew
Parrots need large cages with plenty of space to exercise and play, plus plenty of wood chewing toys to keep them busy, if left alone for longer periods of time.
I've had people come to me worried, asking for help and saying things such as "My bird chews everything around our house!" In such cases, it's easy for the owners to fail to address the underlying problem at hand. Chewing serves the purpose of filing down the beak and exercising the jaw. The beak is a major component of how wild parrots forage for food and go about daily life. Chewing toys relieves domestic parrot boredom. It helps a lonely parrot whittle away the day.
However, there’s also a rather dark side to chewing, which comes about with birds that do not receive enough stimulation or they haven't learned manners. Parrots, particularly larger ones, are very social creatures and thus require daily attention from their keepers. Just like dogs, your bird needs training and early interaction in order to grow up into a well-behave pet. As adults, parrots require plenty of time spent outside the cage, preferably on special bird stands tailored to theirs size.
Save your furniture by training your parrot to stay on it's bird stand. If it climbs down, simply walk over to it calmly and place it back on the stand. This needn't go on for hours, feel free to put your bird back in its cage if it won't stay on the stand. But, even more importantly, offer your bird lots of attention and treats when it is staying on its stand.
Questions to Ask Yourself
If I see that my bird chews everything around him, the first step I take is to think about my daily schedule.
- Do I offer enrichment activities when I have leave my parrot alone?
- Do I allow him out of cage time to socialize on a daily basis?
- Have I provided my bird with plenty of safe toys to chew and forage?
- Have I trained my parrot to stay on its bird stand?
Parrots can easily get bored when they lack stimulation and, due to their high intelligence, they can even experience a range of human-like psychological disorders such as high stress, anxiety and even depression. In these cases, chewing becomes a way of coping for the affected birds and, if their symptoms are left untreated for a longer time, it can lead to quite dangerous self-destructive behaviors such as aggression, loss of appetite and feather plucking.
In order to keep companion parrots stimulated, one of the best solutions is to surround them with all sorts of safe bird toys for them to chew on or to play with and plenty of foraging toys.
Wood toys are obviously the best of both worlds, as they keep your bird busy and satisfy the need to chew and destroy. Choose wood bird toys from known manufactures and pick the correct size for your parrot as the wood density is designed for large through small birds. Parrots are also instinctive foragers and love searching for food in places that are tough for them to access. Think of it like opening up a present or solving one of those challenging puzzle toys. Foraging bird toys keep your birds mind and body busy. Simply hide some delicious treats or even your birds diet inside and then feel good that your parrot will be occupied.
Regardless of your life style, not many of us today can afford to be home and provide time and care for our parrot on a full-time basis. For those of us with a more demanding schedule, chew toys and foraging bird toys are necessary additions to the household in order to keep our little companions both physically and mentally healthy.
- Diane Burroughs, LCSW