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Pet lovebird keeps nibbling my skin! Please help!

Rayla

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Hello! Recently my peach faced lovebird (Mochi) has been nibbling on my neck and hands, this started roughly 2 weeks ago. At first it started when she would be sitting on my shoulder or she would come over to my hands when Im at the computer. She would almost lightly nibble at my skin. I would let her know when it hurt with a slight screech and then set her down if necessary. We have a great bond and I know she's not biting me out of anger but I seriously don't know what to do. As of now my neck and hands are covered in small red marks left behind from the small bites (photos listed below) and my skin is starting to become raw. It almost feels as if Mochi is becoming obsessive over nibbling. I could distract her with something and she would ignore it and climb right back up. It is also obsessive in the sense that she is over preening even if I was another bird. Over the last week and a half I've been following different web forums and solutions that I found regarding similar situations. I have tried imitating a birds chirp that they make when something hurts, I've tried removing shoulder privileges when I found necessary, but nothing seems to work. I don't want to put her in her cage and end up making her hate her own safe space. Please let me know what I can do!

Bird Background: She is about 5 months old and I have given her a variety of shredding toys and other necessities in her cage. Since I am a college student I'm mostly home and let her have plenty of play time and interaction. I also make sure she is given a good diet including a variety of veggies, fruits, legumes, pellets, etc. I also help her with pin feathers that she can't reach. She has interacted with other parrots in the past before I got her and enjoyed preening the back of their necks.
 

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Wally&Eva

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Those marks are from Mochi? Ouch! I don’t have advice but I notice my boy bites when they have pent up energy that they can’t get out such as wanting to get out and fly or not being allowed to do what he wants when I try to stop him. Hope you find a solution!
 

Rayla

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Those marks are from Mochi? Ouch! I don’t have advice but I notice my boy bites when they have pent up energy that they can’t get out such as wanting to get out and fly or not being allowed to do what he wants when I try to stop him. Hope you find a solution!
Unfortunately they are from mochi. The reason she's able to get them so red is bc she's barely touching my skin with the tip of her beak. Since I'm on summer break she has her cage door open most of the time and can go out and play anytime.
 

Shezbug

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When you say nothing works I feel the need to ask this.. how long have you persisted with moving her when she does it?
How long did you deny shoulder rights?
How and what did you offer her instead of your skin?
Did you do a mix of these three things or did you just pick the one reaction to stick to?
Were these things done every single time without fail or did you sometimes maybe let her go a minute longer etc

I ask this stuff because to be successful with swapping behaviours you do not want with behaviours you do want you need to be very very consistent and persistent- the message has to be clear and calm and very predictable.
 

Rayla

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When you say nothing works I feel the need to ask this.. how long have you persisted with moving her when she does it?
How long did you deny shoulder rights?
How and what did you offer her instead of your skin?
Did you do a mix of these three things or did you just pick the one reaction to stick to?
Were these things done every single time without fail or did you sometimes maybe let her go a minute longer etc

I ask this stuff because to be successful with swapping behaviours you do not want with behaviours you do want you need to be very very consistent and persistent- the message has to be clear and calm and very predictable.
In regards to what I use to shift her attention away, I usually give her some sort of paper to shred, a toy/ball she enjoys. I try to introduce them without having to forcefully move her. Sometimes If she notices me holding it she will be intrigued and follow the toy/paper. If that doesn't work (or she seems like she wants attention/playtime via body language) ill usually do trick training or playtime. If I'm busy (taking a test, homework, etc) I might not react to it immediately but the second that I can shift my attention I will. I've been doing the chirping and placing method for the last 5 days and before that I was mainly doing the first two methods that I listed (distraction/training). As of now I've been trying to chirp to see if she will react and realize that what she is doing hurts, if that doesn't work I will remove her from my shoulder or place her on the play perch she has. If she comes back I might try to introduce a toy or do some training with her. I try not to lock her in the cage if I don't have to, but she's stubborn with finding her way back if she isn't distracted by then.
 

Rayla

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When you say nothing works I feel the need to ask this.. how long have you persisted with moving her when she does it?
How long did you deny shoulder rights?
How and what did you offer her instead of your skin?
Did you do a mix of these three things or did you just pick the one reaction to stick to?
Were these things done every single time without fail or did you sometimes maybe let her go a minute longer etc

I ask this stuff because to be successful with swapping behaviours you do not want with behaviours you do want you need to be very very consistent and persistent- the message has to be clear and calm and very predictable.
If you know some sort of routine or procedure to follow when this behavior happens that might be more effective please let me know. What I'm more curious about is why this behavior is happening. I assume its because she enjoys preening other birds or she just has an obsession with needing to chew on stuff. Not too sure.
 

Icey

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Sorry to hear you're having problems with Mochi.
As @Shezbug stated, you have to be vigilant and persistent.
When she starts doing it, say NO firmly, give her a dirty look and move her to her playstand or another area.
If she comes back and starts again, IMMEDIATELY repeat what you did the first time.
You have to be persistant and firm.
I'm not sure why you stated you chirp like a bird to let her know it hurts. She may be misinterpreting this as a mating call.
@Zara is the best person I can think of who may be able to help you with these issues.
I, myself, don't have small birds, but if my macaw or cockatoo were on me doing that, what @Shezbug stated usually works.
I really hope you can get her to stop, and remember don't reward bad behaviour.
Sending hugs. :hug8:
 

Shezbug

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I do not understand the reason for the chirping but a loud stern "No" would be more appropriate to stop the behaviour I think.

When Burt does something I do not like (beak or tongue up nostril for example) I instantly put him off me onto the closest safe surface, I say "no" sternly without any carry on or drama, I turn my back and move away, if he instantly flies at me to land and try again I duck so he misses his landing- I do this absolutely every time without fail as soon as he even reaches for my nostril (he has given me a fair few blood noses without even trying to hurt me lol). He used to seriously be like a dog after a bone trying to get at my nostril but now he might think about giving it a go once every few months but it is not a persistent annoying or dangerous behaviour anymore.

Read your birds body language and be ready to bust in and disturb her attempt before she is successful.
Move her instantly and let her know you are not happy with it, turn your back, walk away, do not let her on you- she will get the message soon enough if you are consistent in your behaviours when she does this.

If you are going to try to tempt her to entertain herself another way (distraction) then it must be much more rewarding for her than chewing your skin is for her. Burt loves hanging off my clothes in my wardrobe to pop holes in everything and remove zippers and buttons- this is highly rewarding to him so the only way I ever bother trying to remove him is with something I know he will value much more... a cage screw, a pine nut, the fly swatter that is not his are all higher rewards to him than ruining my clothes.

Learn your birds absolute most favorite foods and things, learn its body language, habits and patterns and use them all to your advantage.
 

fluffypoptarts

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Kind of looks like she’s “over grooming” you - she may have picking tendencies, so keep an eye on what she does to her own feathers. Lovies are extremely persistent little birds, so you’ll have your work cut out for you with dissuading her. I have a bird like her and he never quits, just flies somewhere else when thwarted.
 

Rayla

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I do not understand the reason for the chirping but a loud stern "No" would be more appropriate to stop the behaviour I think.

When Burt does something I do not like (beak or tongue up nostril for example) I instantly put him off me onto the closest safe surface, I say "no" sternly without any carry on or drama, I turn my back and move away, if he instantly flies at me to land and try again I duck so he misses his landing- I do this absolutely every time without fail as soon as he even reaches for my nostril (he has given me a fair few blood noses without even trying to hurt me lol). He used to seriously be like a dog after a bone trying to get at my nostril but now he might think about giving it a go once every few months but it is not a persistent annoying or dangerous behaviour anymore.

Read your birds body language and be ready to bust in and disturb her attempt before she is successful.
Move her instantly and let her know you are not happy with it, turn your back, walk away, do not let her on you- she will get the message soon enough if you are consistent in your behaviours when she does this.

If you are going to try to tempt her to entertain herself another way (distraction) then it must be much more rewarding for her than chewing your skin is for her. Burt loves hanging off my clothes in my wardrobe to pop holes in everything and remove zippers and buttons- this is highly rewarding to him so the only way I ever bother trying to remove him is with something I know he will value much more... a cage screw, a pine nut, the fly swatter that is not his are all higher rewards to him than ruining my clothes.

Learn your birds absolute most favorite foods and things, learn its body language, habits and patterns and use them all to your advantage.
Thank you for the help! The 'chrip' was a suggestion on a few forums I read that had similar issues with their birds. The sound I made was mostly an "ouch that hurts" sound and she would normally back away after hearing it. People recomended based on the idea that other birds being preened will make a similar sound to show that it hurts or that they're sensitive. Ill try to replace that with a stern 'no' and follow your suggestion with consistency.
 

Rayla

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Kind of looks like she’s “over grooming” you - she may have picking tendencies, so keep an eye on what she does to her own feathers. Lovies are extremely persistent little birds, so you’ll have your work cut out for you with dissuading her. I have a bird like her and he never quits, just flies somewhere else when thwarted.
She definitely is 'over grooming' me. From what I've noticed there is no unhealthy behavior with her own cleaning/preening of feathers so that's always good. Luckily for me her flight feathers aren't fully grown in yet since she hasn't molted from the time I've had her so hopefully I can nip this behavior at its root before she gets free roam.
 

Zara

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Given her age, sounds like she´s reaching sexual maturity and testing the boundaries, so it´s important to get on top of this now. You can´t allow her to nip you like that or it will become ingrained on her.

I have some who like to ¨preen me¨ but they know to be gentle as I won´t stand for being nipped. I treat my birds like @Shezbug said above about her macaw Burt (comment #8). It has always worked for us.

Try introducing some more foraging activities for her to keep her beak entertained so she´s more liekly to rest it when on your shoulder.

You did the right thing not using the cage as punishment, that is their safe space :)
 

Rayla

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Given her age, sounds like she´s reaching sexual maturity and testing the boundaries, so it´s important to get on top of this now. You can´t allow her to nip you like that or it will become ingrained on her.

I have some who like to ¨preen me¨ but they know to be gentle as I won´t stand for being nipped. I treat my birds like @Shezbug said above about her macaw Burt (comment #8). It has always worked for us.

Try introducing some more foraging activities for her to keep her beak entertained so she´s more liekly to rest it when on your shoulder.

You did the right thing not using the cage as punishment, that is their safe space :)
Thank you for the reply. Do you have any specific type of foraging toys I should buy? I have a variety of toys in her cage and will swap them every now and then when she's bored or they're torn up. I also have a foraging toy that I put millet in (one per week). But if you have any suggestions I would love to look into them!
 

Rayla

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Thank you for the reply. Do you have any specific type of foraging toys I should buy? I have a variety of toys in her cage and will swap them every now and then when she's bored or they're torn up. I also have a foraging toy that I put millet in (one per week). But if you have any suggestions I would love to look into them!
Sorry I forgot to include the fact that I put one strip of millet and a variety of fresh veggies/fruits into the foraging toy.
 

Zara

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. Do you have any specific type of foraging toys I should buy?
There are lots of suggestions here;

Ground foraging is always enjoyed here and includes no shredding for us sometimes (keeps hormones in check by lessening the amount of shreddables that can be made into strips), and mug foragers are also always a hit :)
 

Zara

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Ground foraging
Like a foraging tray or mat, or a plate of beads or marbles with seed/pellet sprinkled over. Not on the actual floor of your home.
 

Mizzely

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If you look at two birds who are not both enjoying a preening session, there is a chirp but the biggest thing they do is move away. You guys don't speak the same language, but body language is very easy to understand. Chirp could be something totally different to her than you think, where if she starts biting and you physically move away from her she can more readily say, "oh, when I did that they left me. I don't want them to leave me!" And they start to piece cause and effect together, as long as you are consistent.
 
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