4 symptoms of stress in parrots

One of the most common patients in exotic animal veterinary clinics are parrots (lovebirds, nymphs, macaws …). Many of them go to the vet for physical ailments. The most common parrot diseases are colibacillosis, parasitosis, and pneumonia. Although these diseases sometimes end the life of the animal, they are treated if diagnosed early.

The behavioral problems parrots are a major disadvantage, because most of them appear due to captive conditions in which they live. However, the individual’s personality seems to be related to the ability to cope with stressful situations and the absence of environmental enrichment.

For this reason, if you suspect that your parrot may be suffering from anxiety, we advise you to review the 4 most common stress symptoms on parrots . Learn to identify them in this article from Animal Expert and do not hesitate to go to a specialized veterinary center if your parrot presents them.

You may also be interested: 5 signs of stress in rabbits


  1. Abnormal behavior and stereotypes in parrots living in captivity
  2. How do I know if my parrot is stressed?
  3. Environmental enrichment for parrots

Abnormal behavior and stereotypes in parrots living in captivity

The stereotypies in animals are behaviors abnormal, repetitive, unchanging without apparent function that often made captive and domesticated animals living in poorly enriched environments. This type of behavior does not usually occur in nature and they are not frequent in large, environmentally-sound enclosures.

These behaviors usually occur in parrots that do not have enough sensory stimuli , that do not have the opportunity to interact with different objects or the lack of control over their own environment. The biggest problem is that most people who have adopted one or more parrots are unable to recognize these behaviors due to lack of experience or training.

Furthermore, parrots only perform these behaviors when they are alone and therefore humans never see their parrots perform these behaviors. A good idea to recognize stress symptoms in parrots is to record them while we are not present.

In this video we show you a parrot with a possible stereotype:

How do I know if my parrot is stressed?

Below we detail the 4 most common stress symptoms in parrots to learn how to identify and treat them as soon as possible:

1. Picaje

Many people living with companion parrots have faced the frustrating dilemma of how to help a parrot with a sting. In fact, an estimated one in ten parrots living in captivity plucks their feathers .

Unlike other stress symptoms, in this case it is enough to take a look at a parrot to appreciate the loss of plumage in the body (never in the head) and with small wounds on the skin to see that we are facing this serious problem .

This behavior appears or remains even if there are no medical causes. Scientific studies suggest that it may be associated with poor parrot management, such as improper diet, social isolation, and lack of environmental stimulation. With regard to social isolation , it is very important to keep in mind that once a parrot finds a partner (another parrot or a human), the absence of a parrot causes significant stress, so if we are “your partner” every time we are absent the parrot will suffer.

It is vital not to over manipulate a parrot and avoid interacting with it by kissing it, as we will cause it to mate. On the other hand, this behavior may also be related to poor foraging behavior ( foraging ). A food always available without incentive to search can also cause itching.

2. Screams

The continual cries are the second conduct parrots stressed performed. It is also the most common cause of abandonment of these animals. Oral communication between parrots is normal and natural behavior. Those higher pitched and repetitive sounds are used as an alarm signal when people are in danger or distress as a contact call between group members.

However, when these screams become constant and repetitive they cannot be considered normal and may indicate boredom or stress . Parrots paired with congeners have been shown to be less likely to develop this problem.

3. Fear and excessive aggressiveness

Excessive aggressiveness and fear reactions are often a symptom of stress. These behaviors limit interactions between parrots that live in the same cage or between parrots and their keepers. In addition, on many occasions some of those involved end up injured. A fearful parrot, which continually tries to escape or easily panics , is more likely to be abandoned.

In parrots, the appearance of new people, objects or other animals, can trigger excessive reactions of fear or aggressiveness. This is because the parrot in question was raised in a poor , stimulus-free environment. Those individuals who lived in a highly stimulating environment have been shown to be free from stress and therefore not to develop such problems.

4. Route layout

In this behavior, a parrot will continuously and invariably repeat a route within its cage. This is behavior caused by social stress. Parrots, in the wild, live in very large groups of individuals. When we keep a parrot isolated from others of its species, certain behaviors, such as foraging, are not carried out correctly. Therefore, one way to stimulate our parrot, if we cannot introduce a new member, is to hide food through the cage so that it can search for it, entertain itself and thus reduce its stress.

Environmental enrichment for parrots

An adequate environmental enrichment in parrots can greatly increase the well – being of our pet. We must provide them with a cage large enough where they can freely walk, fly, and stretch, objects with which to interact, and companions for social development.

It is also necessary that we promote foraging or foraging behavior , creating toys where we can hide food. If we carry out these actions we will decrease the chances that our parrot will suffer stress and carry out negative and harmful behaviors for itself.

First of all, we should always go to a veterinarian specialized in exotic animals if we believe that our parrot shows obvious symptoms of stress.


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