How to Pet a Parrot and Create That Feeling of Closeness and Relaxation

how tp pet a parrot

Learn how to pet a parrot the right way and see the bond that you so much desire grow in no time!

Parrots are incredibly intelligent, fun, and interesting birds.

I mean, these are among the reasons you decided to have one as a pet, right?

That said, you can’t treat or pet a bird the same way you treat a cat, a rabbit, or a dog.

This means that a petting strategy that successfully works on the above animals might not be successful with a parrot.

Amazingly, people are often surprised at what the right method to petting a parrot is.

The truth is, petting a bird is not as easy as petting a furrier creature.

However, if done right, it can be an easy task and your parrot is sure to enjoy being petted!

So, here is how to pet a parrot.

To pet a parrot, calmly approach your parrot before petting and ensure your bird is comfortable around you. Pet and caress only the beak, head, and feet. Gently pick your bird and keep its beak between your fingers as you stroke the feathers in the opposite direction.

How to Pet a Parrot

Calmly approach your parrot before petting

This is the first step.

It’s important to ensure that your bird sees your presence and approach.

You do not want to take your bird up unaware as that could startle it.

You should ensure the bird knows what you are doing and is all warmed up to your presence.

This is very important especially if you are just trying to pet the bird for the first time.

Ensure your parrot is comfortable around you

Before reaching out your hand you should study your pet’s body language and ensure it’s comfortable.

Don’t just grab your bird, play or speak to it for a while before reaching your hand out to it.

Even though birds have different ways of communicating, most of it is largely non-verbal.

This makes it important and possible to watch out for possible cues.

For example, is the bird bowing its head or even turning its head a bit as you approach? Or is it fluffing or ruffling up its feathers a bit?

These are all signs that show that the bird is relaxed, trusting, and comfortable with what you do, which is great!

What you don’t want is seeing your bird stiffing and staring extremely as you approach.

Also, as a sign of discomfort, your bird can try to move or lean away from you.  This is a sign that it’s just trying to push you away.

Also, if a bird is uncomfortable with what you are doing, you may see it attempting to bite you.

This is sometimes because your bird is yet to trust you, so it’s important to learn how to react to the bite the right way.

 A wrong reaction to the bite could further ruin your relationship with your pet, so, here is What to Do if a Parrot Bites You.

Pet and caress only the beak, head, and feet

For beginners, petting only your bird’s head or feet is the best way to build a healthy bond between you and your bird.

The beak is also a comfortable place to touch so you should ask others to do the same.

The reason why the petting should be limited to these three areas is that a bird’s sexual organs are located directly under its wings on its back.

So, when you stroke your bird’s entire body, you are stimulating the production of sexual hormones.

Petting the back or under the wings can cause a bird to become sexually frustrated or to perceive you as a mate instead of a companion.

Bonded birds can become jealous or possessive of their mates, making them hostile to others in your home.

Handling your bird’s feet is also a good idea.

This is because if you are used to handling his toes, you will be able to clip his nails more easily.

Gently pick them and keep their beak between your fingers

Great, you have been able to get your bird to feel comfortable around you, now it’s time to gently pick them up and pet them.

To be in control of the petting process, keep their beak between your fingers as you try to pet them.

Birds have a way of using their beak to dictate where or when to pet them.

So keeping their beak between your fingers ensures that you are not just petting your bird whenever or wherever it wants.

They must learn to accept being petted only at the right place.

Keeping their beaks in between your fingers also ensures that even if you hit a spot that they dislike, they can’t bite.

If your bird enjoys the petting, expect it to keep its beak between your fingers as you scratch it all over the head.

Stroke the feathers against the natural direction

Generally, birds prefer being scratched in the opposite direction of their feathers.

So, rather than petting from the head towards the tail, stroke from the head towards the beak.

You must always be gentle and careful with pets, especially when you are just starting.

Keep in mind that a parakeet weighs just over one ounce, so you’ll need to adjust your approach accordingly.

Be patient with your parrot

While it seems like petting should come naturally to most birds, some will take a little while to warm up to you and your family.

It’s therefore important to start slowly and with the least obtrusive handling possible, then move on to full-on nuzzling.

Also, ensure you keep your connection with your pet by spending time with it every day.

Understand that not every parrot should always be petted

Parrots are very unique, individual creatures. Some like being petted by anyone and everyone, while others don’t enjoy being touched even by their owner.

Understand that a bird you don’t own may need time to get to know you before it will allow you to pet it.

It would be better to first gain the bird’s trust before touching it in any way.

Even if you do own the bird, understand that not all of them will eventually accept petting.

Many parrots, (like the larger-sized parrots) don’t enjoy it and would prefer to have their personal space.

If this is the case, you should try not to force it to enjoy being petted.

It’s better to instead look for other ways to try to bond with your pet.

Other bonding strategies could be to teach it tricks or allow it to perch near you as you work.

How Not to Pet a Parrot

Avoid petting below the neck

Most inexperienced bird owners are unaware that many birds, especially certain breeds of parrots, consider touching below the neck a kind of breeding ritual.

As a result, petting a bird frequently around the back, wings, or tail can cause all kinds of behavioral problems later on.

So avoid stroking your parrot’s back, its tail region, and under its wings.

In the wild, hormonal seasons are the only times when mated pairs touch these areas.

By knowing how to correctly pet your bird, you can keep your bird’s hormones in check and help it to control its moods and behavior.

Remember that your parrot is not a cat or dog as birds interpret most petting calls as courting calls. So keep your petting platonic and respectful.

In general, it is best to just stay above the neck (except the feet). This way, everyone is happier.

Avoid the eyes

If you do choose to pet your bed around his beak, head, and neck, you should avoid getting too close to his eyes.

It’s much easier to startle a bird if you get too close to this part of his face.

Do not ruffle the feathers the wrong way

It’s okay for you to rub your hand upward or against the grain.

You can, for example, stroke a bird’s neck on the throat, toward the beak, and he’ll probably like it.

It is important not to push back his feathers, as doing so can damage or break them.

Also, don’t pluck or turn his plumage either as he needs the feathers to fly.

Do parrots like to be petted?

Parrots like to be petted only once a bond of trust has been established. Most parrots are very protective of their space and won’t accept handling from strangers.                               

Whether it’s a love bird, macaw, African grey, or Amazon parrot, most parrots do not welcome being petted by strangers.

So, when you cuddle, pet, or touch a parrot that doesn’t explicitly trust you, it may squawk or scream, move away from your hand, look disgruntled, bite at you, or ruffle its feathers and splay its tail.

Nonetheless, hand-reared parrots find petting more appealing.

So, handling birds at a young age will help them become more accustomed to the human touch.

The thing is, as soon as a parrot learns that you are safe and trustworthy, it will welcome petting.

Where do parrots like to be touched?

Parrots like being touched on the chest, back, under their wings, and in their vent area. However, just because your parrot likes it doesn’t mean it’s good for it.

So, to prevent your parrot from becoming hormonal and sexually frustrated, you should limit your petting to its head, feet, and around the beak.

These areas have fewer nerve endings and are not exactly erogenous zones.

Do parrots like to be cuddled?

Generally, parrots do not like to be cuddled even though they can be very affectionate in their own way, as the nature of some makes them aloof and intolerant of cuddling. However, some parrots will feel more comfortable cuddling after several months of bonding.

You should spend a lot of time with your parrot if you want it to be cuddly.

Parrots cuddle by gently rubbing their beaks against you and preening your hair.

The majority of parrots don’t snuggle up in your lap, but they do enjoy standing on your shoulder or nestling against your neck.

Conures, African greys, budgies (parakeets), quaker parrots, cockatoos, and cockatiels are the parrots that like to cuddle the most.

Even though many young birds enjoy cuddling, this can be detrimental to their health as they mature, especially for female birds.

Young parrots usually live in flocks of companions.

During this period, basic preening of each other will occur, but it will be limited almost entirely to the head and neck.

But if a parrot matures and finds a mate, only the mate will be allowed to preen the other bird’s chest and other areas such as around the base of the tail.

So, when humans pet a parrot anywhere other than its beak, head, or feet, they are sending out signals that they are a mate.

For a female bird, this can trigger unwanted egg-laying, and for a male bird, it can trigger aggression.

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