Picking 'Til It Bleeds! - Talk Parrots Forums

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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-03-2011, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
 
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Picking 'Til It Bleeds!

Maybe someone has a suggestion about this...

Awhile back, Krikkit the nanday conure started getting in the habit of excessive picking with her beak; she'll choose a specific spot and pinpoint it repeatedly, with the precision and single-mindedness of someone trying to pull out a cactus needle with tweezers. I didn't pay much attention to this until one time she actually started drawing blood -- and just kept right on compulsively tweezing away! After that, whenever I'd catch her picking I would try right away to get her intetrested in something else, like a treat or a sound or whatever.

She's now reached a level that has me kinda worried -- she does this all the time now, and no matter how many times you wave her off from a spot, she'll either go right back to it or start up a new one and work it as hard as the first one. The points where she picks usually don't really bleed enough to notice, but there's around a dozen of them now and she's showing no signs of stopping this obsession any time soon.

Has anyone else here dealt with this before? When she does this insistent digging she mostly attacks spots on the upper part of my left arm. (I'm seriously afraid that I'm starting to look like a junkie!) The main reason I'm worried about her welfare is that I'll be watching TV and not notice that she's chosen a new site to start drilling, and then all of a sudden she'll strike a nerve and holy smokes I feel like somebody snuck up on me with a tattoo gun!!! I'm afraid that one of these times I'm gonna instinctively twitch or slap at the spot where I'm getting bit and end up breaking her neck or something!

My girlfriend said Krikkit was doing this because my arms were dirty and she was trying to dig the dirt out of my pores, but I've taken to scrubbing up pretty comprehensively and it's made no difference in her behavior whatsoever. I couldn't bear to stop letting her hop onto my person and cuddle and kiss and dance and "click" along while I sing to her... but I also don't wanna have to double-bag myself in a snuggie or a burqa every time she's out of her cage, either. Are any of you folks sharp enough to point me to an answer to this problem that's needling me???

-- mf
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2011, 02:19 AM



 
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That is very unusual. I kept 2 quaker parrots which both had mutilation syndrome which is what I assume if the same thing? I haven't seen other birds do it but I've known cases of it. They had completely bald bellies and you could see that they had scabs, they'd then pull off the scabs and bleed and bleed. It was very stressful to watch. I hope your conure is sorted out soon sorry I cannot help. I would recommend an anti pick spray though. I use one on my cockatiel and I'm not kidding the stuff is disgusting to taste. I accidentally got it in my mouth and I can see why they wouldn't want to pick with it

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2011, 11:22 AM
 
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Just to clarify, shes picking your arm, not herself?



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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2011, 11:28 AM



 
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oh yeah... XD I never thought of that

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-04-2011, 04:06 PM


 
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I wasn't clear either if she's picking your arm or herself. If she's picking herself, a trip to see your avian vet is in order to rule out medical causes. If she's doing it to you, I think distraction is a good idea. What you have to figure out is what's more fun to her than this new hobby of hers. Try keeping a small basket of various small things for her to play with - pony beads, scraps of shredder paper, little foot toys, toy scraps, etc. on the end table next to where you might sit with her, and offer it to her before she starts the bad behavior. It might just peek her interest. And then offer it to her also after she starts with your arm.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-05-2011, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PersnicketyParrot View Post
I wasn't clear either if she's picking your arm or herself. If she's doing it to you, I think distraction is a good idea.
It is my arm, or my neck if that's not available. Yesterday she was worse than ever -- it was like living with a starving vampire bat! There was nothing on earth that could have adequately distracted her!

Today she hasn't shown any interest in drilling my arm, though she's been a bit "bitey" in general, which is unusual -- under normal circumstances she's very good about not biting too hard during play. (She's always incredibly gentle around the budgies, too!)

- MF
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 12:12 AM


 
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I'm sorry, but I haven't a clue what to advise. Many of my birds will practice cosmetic surgery if they find a skin imperfection of any type. Is she trying to pick off a freckle or something like that? Honestly, the only thing I can think of is to try to wear longer sleeves for a while. Maybe the stage will pass if you just render the surfaces inaccessible for a time.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 04:22 AM



 
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I agree with Nanay on that one!

I had no idea you meant on yourself, that is very odd, but as Nanay said if you have any imperfections like freckles or something then they might wanna dig them out haha

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-09-2011, 01:35 AM


 
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Yep, it is common for them to want to preen you. When they see a freckle, mole, or something else that looks amiss they can focus on it. I wouldn't make a big deal about it, but just redirect her attention to something else. Perhaps interrupt her behavior with a quick training session for a fun trick with a favorite treat. Or, move her to a play stand when she does this and have some fun things for her there. I think eventually she might lose interest in the unwanted behavior.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-10-2011, 04:35 PM
 
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Sounds painful!

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-15-2011, 11:12 PM
 
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My male Quaker, Casey does this. When ever I hold him he wants to pick at me and he gets very insistent. Usually it is my fingers that he is not perching on. If I try to put another finger there to stop him and tell him "No" he gets more insistent. So if he doesn't stop I put him back on his cage.
I only have him for about 3 weeks now. He is quite a talker. He lunges at hubby whenever hubby passes his cage, but once off the cage, hubby can hold him.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-19-2011, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Divet's Mom View Post
My male Quaker, Casey does this. When ever I hold him he wants to pick at me and he gets very insistent.
Starting the day after I posted, Krikkit has gotten less and less determined to drill in my arm fields and neck zone. The problem essentially solved itself; hopefully the same will happen in your case.

I should add that she insistently continues another similar behavior: she bites at fabric -- my shirt or my blanket or what have you -- and appears to sort of suckle at it. She looks exactly like a dog or cat that was taken from its mother too early, but only mammals have mammary glands, so I don't see how this could relate to that! In that case, she would insist on craning her head back as far as possible and standing there with her beak wide open, right?

-- mf

PS: No freckles or imperfections were involved in her choosing of spots to pick at on my body -- her reasoning was totally inscrutable.

Last edited by MiniFlock; 07-19-2011 at 06:29 PM.
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