Do birds enjoy being pet in the same way as dogs and cats? Do they like their heads being brushed gently? Our Somerset vets talk about whether or not birds enjoy being petted and how to pet them properly.
Petting Birds - Should You Do It?
Birds have become quite popular due to how intelligent and playful they can be. Even so, those interacting with birds must remember that it won't be the same as when you are playing with a dog or cat. You will need to take a different approach when you are socializing with a bird, including while petting them. While some birds enjoy being pet just as much as a dog or cat it requires a different strategy to ensure a good experience. As with any pet, your avian vet will be able to provide you with tips and advice on caring for and interacting with your bird safely.
Approaching a Bird For Petting
- The very first thing that you should try to keep in mind is that not every bird will enjoy physical contact. Just like humans, each bird has its own distinct personality, and while some will love this type of attention others may not. If you are hoping to pet a bird that you do not own then it may be very important to visit with the bird many times to gain its trust before even attempting to pet it.
- If you do own the bird then you should still remember that every bird is different and your bird just may not enjoy being petted. in general. If this is the case for your bird then you can try different ways of interacting with them such as by playing games and learning new tricks. With birds being so intelligent there is an abundance of activities that you can do with them that don't involve petting.
- If you are going to attempt to pet your bird then you will need to approach them. The important thing is that you ensure that your bird sees you while you are walking towards them and make them aware of your presence. Spend some time talking with your bird and interacting with them. This will help your bird be more at ease when you do try to pet them.
- Because birds don't communicate the same way that humans do it will be important to watch their body language. If your bird is uncomfortable with the situation they will show many signs such as becoming stiff, moving away from you or even trying to bite you. If you notice anything that may indicate that your bird does not want to interact then it is important to respect this and give them some space.
- The same goes for positive body language. If your bird appears to be bending their head to you, ruffling their feathers or others wise inviting you to pet and play with them then you can go ahead and slowly begin your petting session.
Petting a Bird Properly
- The biggest thing to remember when you are finally getting your bird is that you should never pet your bird below the neck. Aside from it just not being the preference for pets, some birds actually include neck pets as part of their mating ritual which can make your companionship very difficult if you are doing this.
- When you are just starting to pet your bird then it is recommended to begin by petting around the beak. This is a great place to start when you and your bird are just figuring out what kind of interaction they will enjoy.
- While it may seem unusual, birds actually quite enjoy having their pets in the opposite direction of their feather growth. So petting them from tail to beak is a good thing!
- Once you have established that your bird is comfortable with being pet you can move to the sides of their head. The skin behind their beaks and ears are also spots that you can carefully pet if your bird has shown that they are good with petting.
- When you and your bird are comfortable and trusting of each other you can begin petting the back of their head, being careful to not pet below their neck which may confuse and frustrate your bird.
- Trust will be the biggest thing when it comes to being able to pet your bird so take your time and be patient.
Concerns When Petting Birds
It is important to always keep in mind that petting a bird below the neck is part of the breeding ritual for many birds and must be avoided. If you do this then your bird may begin to consider you as a potential mate which can lead to behavioral concerns which can appear in the form of severe aggression, regurgitation of food, screaming, and your bird may pluck out their own feathers out of frustration.
If you notice any of these signs or if you have any other concerns then you should contact our Somerset avian vets to have your bird promptly examined and treated before any possible condition, behavioral or other, worsens.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.