African Grey Parrots can have a bite strength up to 400 PSI. If left untamed, they can cause painful wounds to their victims. Birds use their beaks to interact with almost everything in their surroundings.
African Greys are social birds, but they can hurt you depending on their bite. It is why it’s best to wear protective gloves when trying to interact with your African Grey Parrot. Their beaks are their strongest asset.
African Grey Parrots Bite
Parrots develop strong beaks because it’s one of the significant ways they adapt to the environment. Imagine the strength a human bite has and then multiply that four times – that is how strong African Grey Parrots bite. Because of their bite strength, they can easily pick on big seeds and nutshells using their beaks.
If you adopt an African Grey, you must expect to get bitten more than seven times. It might just become part of the nature of your relationship with your Parrot itself. It’s necessary to remember that African Grey Parrots are still birds that naturally come from the wild.
African Grey Parrots are prey animals in the wild. It is why it is easy to resort back to being in survival mode, just like how they are in the wild. It means being alert and in the ready-to-attack mode. (source)
These birds can still develop diseases that can infect a person’s respiratory, digestive, and cutaneous systems. Make it a habit to wash your hands and arms with a disinfectant after playing with your pet. Any simple cut can become a breeding ground for infections.
Reasons Why African Grey Parrots Bite
The number one reason African Grey Parrots bite is they are not used to being around people. Untamed Parrots will naturally feel afraid of whoever comes close to them.
Parrots also fear movements that are fast and rash. Any sudden movement caused by humans or other pets can come off as a predatorial attack for some Parrots.
During molting time, Parrots undergo tremendous emotional and physical stress. It makes it a reason for them to show aggression and even develop a biting behavior.
African Grey Parrots can get easily irritated during the process of molting. So this is not the right time to get too close to your pet. You can opt to provide your pet with Vitamin B to help boost their emotional health.
Parrots behave aggressively is when they get hungry or thirsty. These Parrots also show their playfulness through biting. While this may seem like self-defense, a playful bite and a defensive bite differs depending on how a Parrot reinforces it.
Social play among parrots serves as a way to improve social ties and trust among a group of birds. For them, this is a way to introduce adult behaviors among the flock. (source)
Although, you should not tolerate it when your Parrot bites you. If you move your hand away whenever they get playful this way, you will eventually teach them that this is not a good habit.
Lastly, Parrots may also bite to assert their dominance. Some Parrots may get possessive depending on their relationship with their owners.
They May Be Possessive
They may show possessive behavior to whoever gets too close to their belongings. Examples of these belongings are their partner, toys, food, and even cages.
Research in 2001 mentioned that “through consistent, nonaggressive training and behavior modification, these behaviors can be channeled or modified”. (source)
African Grey Parrots can outgrow this behavior once they get used to being around other pets and family members in the house.
How Hard Can An African Grey Parrot Bite?
The damage that a Parrot’s beak can do depends on the size of its beak. A thinner beak will have less pressure compared to those with a broader beak.
Remember that this is one of the ways that Parrots connect and adapt to the world around them. Some Parrots are even prone to forming a habit of not only biting once but continually.
The Parrot group most prone to doing this are the African Grey parrots. Think of how a Parrot will eat a corn cob. They would usually pick a spot and slowly chew on your skin towards the other parts until you can remove yourself from them.
African Grey Parrots have a very short temper. So when they start to attack, they do not rest easily, unlike any other Parrot specie.
African Grey Parrots can leave their owners with wounds that would need professional intervention. There are various reasons why these Parrot species may bite. It’s necessary to stay observant of your pet’s behavior to address any emerging behavioral issues.
Can A Parrot Bite Your Finger Off?
Although parrots have powerful beaks, they cannot bite your finger off if you are an adult. The worst thing if a Parrot bites an adult’s finger is to give it a wound deep enough to need stitching.
The case is different for children. A Parrot can bite a child’s finger off. Children have less developed bones compared to full-grown adults, which makes their bones more prone to breakage.
It is the main reason why most owners of home parrots let go of their pets – to give children a safe space to grow in. Most parents fear letting Parrots near newborns and toddlers for fear of getting bitten by the bird. (source)
There are two ways that a Parrot can bite you. They can either make a side beak bite or a front beak bite. A side beak bite is more likely to cause severe wounds and can potentially bite off a small finger.
While a front beak bite would cause a wound, depending on how deep the bite is, wounds caused by Parrots usually require stitching afterward.
Do African Greys Like To Be Petted?
A Parrot’s comfort level about being petted will vary on how you trained it. Some Parrots are comfortable when being held by their owners but not as much when held by another person.
The answer to the question of whether African Grey loves petting varies on their upbringing. If a Parrot is used to being touched and around people well enough, then it’s okay.
An African Grey Parrot would sometimes have preferred spots where they want petting. The head is the most recommended part of a bird’s body for petting.
Most Parrots and birds generally like it when you give them a pat on the head, feet, or beak. They can easily see these body parts, which explains why they are comfortable being touched there.
Know The Appropriate Spots To Touch
If you’re petting an untamed parrot, you might want to avoid touching the beak. It would be best not to touch your Parrot below the neck or stomach area. It can lead to stress and frustration for your pet.
Touching other parts of the body aside from the head and feet signals Parrots for mating. Some Parrots might brush off this signal, but it can cause hormonal fluctuation for others.
It is the reason why it’s imperative to know the appropriate spots you can touch your Parrot. It will prevent you and the people around you from sending the wrong signals to your pet.
Do African Greys Have Gentle Nature?
Many bird owners would usually shy away from getting an African Grey Parrot of their own. Many perceive these parrots as very complex, and only an experienced enthusiast can care for them. But this is not true.
African Grey Parrots may sometimes be sensitive and demanding but also brilliant and charming.
This Parrot species thrives when they can consistently attend to their habits and daily routine. A slight change in this routine can make these African Grey Parrots upset.
When upset, Parrots are prone to self-sabotage. They do this by plucking out their feat or by chewing their feathers.
They Socialize Differently
Parrots, in general, are very social creatures that need attention most of the time. But they socialize differently than other birds. They do not like to be touched a lot.
Some African Grey Parrots can allow the usual head-scratching and feet petting, but that is it. These Parrots are not that much of a fan of physical contact. Especially those that have no adequate training.
Studies reveal that the most fruitful and productive approach to caring for your pet parrot creates a personal relationship that provides a safe space for clear communication. (source)
Continuous positive experiences are also helpful when creating a relationship with your Parrot. These are things that the old type of Parrot training does not practice. But with evolvement and change, this is the most advisable to do nowadays.
Two Types of African Grey Parrots
There are two subspecies of African Grey Parrots, the Congo African Grey Parrot and the Timneh African Grey. The Congo African Grey Parrots are relatively larger compared to Timneh African Grey Parrots. Congo African Parrots usually have a scarlet-colored tail and a big black beak.
On the other hand, Timneh African Grey Parrots have a much smaller body. Instead of being colored scarlet or red, its color is dark gray, almost leaning toward black.
The Timneh African Grey Parrot also has a dark-colored tail, contrary to the bright color of Congo Grey Parrots.
Both bird groups make for a great companion. They’re both great in very vibrant social setups. They can adapt quickly and learn tricks that can prove to be entertaining to watch.
Most stores that specialize in birds would probably have these two available. Remember to do your research first before buying your first bird. You must create a safe space for your Parrot to grow.
African Grey Parrots’ Behavior
African Grey Parrots are famous for being one of the biggest types of Parrot in their group. They are social birds that need a lot of attention but do not necessarily interact with others like a typical bird.
These parrots can adapt well even to unnatural setups like being held as a house pet. Remember that they are birds used to living in the wild, so there may be many behavioral things you may find yourself concerned with for African Grey Parrots.
These birds have many reservations about how they want to be treated or touched. They tend to show more aggressive behavior when encountering distressing situations by biting.
- Hooimeijer, J. DVM CPBC “The Facts and Myths of Aggressive-Biting Behavior in Parrots” Accessed June 2022
- Skate, ST “Social Play Behavior in Captive White-fronted Amazon Parrots Amazona albifrons” Accessed June 2022
- Wilson, Liz “Biting and Screaming Behavior in Parrots” Accessed June 2022
- Hooimeijer, J. DVM CPBC “Parrots Don’t Bite Children” Accessed June 2022
- Martin, Steve “The Art of Training Parrots” Accessed June 2022