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Stress in parrots: what it looks like and considerations to avoid distress

02 October 2017
13 mins read
Volume 8 · Issue 8


Previous articles in this series have discussed stress in companion animals, including the cat and dog. This article will be discussing stress in a more unusual, but equally as popular companion animal — that is, the parrot — and in particular the Grey Parrot and the Timneh Parrot. However, it should be noted that much of this discussion will be applicable to other species of parrots that are kept as companion pets.

The keeping of parrots as companion pets is rapidly growing in popularity, and they are often perceived as easier to care for than dogs and more sociable than cats. It is generally accepted that birds (including parrots, finches, and canaries) are the sixth most popular companion animal after both indoor and outdoor fish, dogs, cats and rabbits (PFMA, 2017). Unlike cats and dogs, birds are not considered domesticated animals even when bred in captivity, as many are only one or two generations removed from the wild and, thus, they retain all of their wild bird instincts and behaviours (Davis, 1998; Graham, 1998). When birds are kept as companion animals, constraints are often placed on them in terms of social interaction, flight, foraging, access to appropriate species-specific diets and maintenance behaviour such as nest building, bathing, and preening. These constraints may also be a variable for the occurrence of abnormal behaviours such as feather damaging behaviours (FDBs), reproductive behaviours directed towards caregivers, caregiverdirected aggression, extreme vocalisation, and serotypic behaviours (Van Zeeland et al, 2009).

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