Biting Eclectus

June Anderson writes: I have a 17 week old Eclectus female who has always been a real lover until recently. I also have a 15 year old son that our Eclectus, Kiki has always liked.But now, when my son puts his hand in Kiki’s cage, she lunges at him and tries to bite him She has nailed him pretty good a few times.

Any suggestions on how to break her of this new habit?

I thought maybe if he opened the cage and talked to her first; then maybe offer her a cracker and then pet her; would this just spoil her into getting a treat by being mean??

Hi June,

You don’t want Kiki to gain the Alpha position with your son, so I would suggest that when he reaches in the cage to get her, he must be consistent, and make her come to him when he gives the up command. He can even give her a little nudge on the belly or on the tail to make her do as he instructs. If he isn’t consistent, and if, after giving her the up command she refuses, he must insist she do as he instructs or she may gain the Alpha position. It only takes a few times of gentle persuasion, and she will soon learn.

I realize she is a female Eclectus, and they are known as being dominant, but she is going to be a part of your family as a pet for along time, and since these are the formative weeks, you must teach her now; otherwise it will become progressively more difficult the older she gets. Often, when the female babies lunge at me, or refuse to come out when I give them the up command, I simply reach in with both hands, around her wings and gently pick her up and bring her out of the cage.

Once she is out of the cage, as you have already explained, she is her normal sweet self. That is because you are removing her from her territory to neutral territory. Girls can be much more territorial sooner than males so that is probably what she is going thru. She has probably agreed to share her cage with you before she became so territorial. When your son puts his hand in her cage, she thinks he is invading her territory.

Also, remember, there are times when they just simply want to be left alone to sleep or rest like any species of baby, bird or human. The first Eclectus book that came out says that during those times, the best thing to do is simply leave them alone. Doesn’t she come to the front of the cage when she wants to come out to play?

One other suggestion. While your son (or anybody) reaches in there to get her, and if she is lunging, try putting something in her mouth that she likes, like low salt wheat thin, or slice of almond, or a toy. Then while her mouth is busy, reach in to pick her up.