Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
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Lovebird attacking hands
A few of you might remember my lovebird, Kuzco, who I bought from a pet store after he'd lived there for three years. He was very afraid of people and hands and although we are very bonded now, he's still struggling with hands so I'm wondering if I can get some advice.
He is super violent towards anyone's hands, but especially mine. It started as fear, he didn't want to step up and would lunge at them if he saw them, hissing and fluffy. He will now almost always step up and is much less afraid of hands when they are in the step up position. The problem seems to be when he's with me. He becomes very territorial of my face. If he's hormonal enough, he will seek out my hands and just start gnawing on them. He doesn't associate them with me. He will tolerate scritches from me, if I'm holding his favorite toy in the same hand, which makes me think he believes the affection is coming from his toy.
Things I've tried: making him step up onto my hands while they're in different positions other than the usual step up finger.
- touching my own face with my hands to show him I accept them (this just resulted in him lunging at my face and taking a chunk out of my nose)
-hiding treats in my fingers and encouraging him to explore. He will sometimes take the treats, but most of the time he discards them and beats up my hand.
-only allowing him to be with me if he's sitting on my hands. I think he thinks this is punishment. Usually results in him going back to his cage very upset.
-feeding him by hand at meal times. Only a few good bites here, but as soon as the food is gone, he beats them up again.
- interacting with my budgies on my hands so he can see they aren't afraid. Had zero effect.
-letting him bite lasted a full two minutes, by which point my hands were bleeding in multiple spots and his rage had only increased.
- putting him in his cage when he bites didn't really seem to leave an impact and also made him see cage time as punishment.
-leaving hands near him but out of reach just stresses him out.
What else can I be doing? I've tried everything I can think of. It started out fear related, but I also think he learned in June pet store that biting hands was a good way to get rid of them. It makes me sad because other than this, he is an absolute dream bird. He gets along great with my budgies, is friendly towards new people, completely bonded to me, and a great traveller. I really want to help him be more confident with hands because he loves scritches when he doesn't know where they come from and also because I'm terrified of the day I have to give him oral medication.