Angry Birds...In Real Life? Avoid Risks with Your Pet Birds

by Michael Levanduski   Birds are amazing and beautiful creatures and can make wonderful pets. While dogs and cats seem to get all the attention, birds are actually the third most popular pet in the country. Most people think of pet birds as these beautiful little creatures that sing lovely songs. While true, they can also get quite violent, if you’re not careful.

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What?  Where do you think the game “Angry Birds” got its name!? Whether you already have a pet bird, or you’re thinking about getting one, it is important to learn the potential dangers of birds…And how to keep yourself and your family safe. After all, you don’t want to be the next news article to read, “Pet Bird Kills Owner!” (Yes, this has actually happened!)

Stopping Angry Birds from Biting

The severity of injury that can be caused by a bird will vary greatly based on the type of bird. A lovebird, for example, is quite small and their ‘bites’ are usually harmless. If they happen to get a hold of your lip, nose, or eyes, however, it is really going to hurt. These birds are also very curious. Sometimes they bite and pull at earrings, nose rings, or other jewelry, which could cause some serious injuries.

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Larger pet birds, such as African Grey Parrots have beaks that are quite powerful and surprisingly sharp. If they get angry (or even if they are just trying to play), they can easily cause a deep wound that could require stitches, or worse. Finally, there are the large and extremely exotic birds. While rare, some people do keep birds like ostriches or cassowary’s as pets. These large animals can weigh hundreds of pounds. An attack from these big birds can be deadly.

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Don’t let all this scare you! Just because birds CAN be dangerous, doesn’t mean they have to be.

How to Keep Your Bird from Attacking

When choosing this type of pet, you need to take your responsibility seriously. Birds that bite can be surprisingly dangerous. In addition, a bird that bites is often a sign that they are stressed or unhappy.

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Fortunately, there are quite a few things that you can do to keep your pet happy, calm, and safe: 

  • Don’t Forget the Food, Karen – ok, we all known what it’s like to be ‘hangry’ (hungry and angry!), and birds are really no different. If you aren’t feeding your pet enough, they will start looking for food elsewhere, including, perhaps, your fingers!
  • Learn the Language of the Birds – While some pet birds can talk, they really can’t effectively communicate how they are feeling. This is why it is so important to watch their ‘body language’ for indications of their attitude. If a bird puffs out their feathers, dilates their eyes, or opens their beak, it is a strong indication that they want to be left alone for now. If you don’t force them to do things they aren’t comfortable with, you will be much safer.

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  • Time for a Time Out Tweaty – Birds can be quite curious, so eventually all birds will bite, even if not out of anger. When this happens, gently set them down in their cage or other safe area. Do not yell at them as this often leads to further biting. Giving Tweaty a ‘time out’ will help to discourage this type of action in the future.
  • Try a Chew Toy – Some species of birds need to be able to chew, so make sure they have something safe to chomp on. There are many bird-safe chew toys that will give them something (other than your finger that is) to exercise their beak on.

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  • Make them Feel Safe – Perhaps most importantly of all, making sure your pet feels safe will help to reduce the risk of a bite or other attack. Giving them their own space, avoiding sudden movements, and taking the time to get to know your pet will help to avoid a potential attack.
Birds can make truly wonderful pets, but only if you’re willing to put in the time and effort needed. With some effort, you can build a trusting relationship that can last for decades. Visit Dr. Jeff Werber’s Instagram account (@werbs_dvm) to view and submit questions and answers on weekly AMAs – or call and leave a voicemail at 424-835-0576. Your call will be returned posthaste. For emergencies, download Dr. Jeff Werber’s app Airvet, a video-chat option for veterinary needs at any time of day or night!