How Do I Pet My African Grey Parrot Without Getting Bit

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

It’s a bird, not a dog and doesn’t necessarily want to get pet.

Birds want to be preened.


Re: “Larry’s was more direct”.


He let himself get bitten.


He made a fist to lessen the amount of skin the bird could get in his mouth and just let him bite.

Editor’s note: I’m worried more about the beak than the mouth.


BTW – this is a Quora question


He didn’t flinch, didn’t withdraw his hand and didn’t yell “ow.”


He just let the bird bite.


After a while, the bird stopped, because he was not getting the reaction he expected.


A few more sessions of this and Larry began opening his hand and petting the bird.



“I’m going to train my dog by letting him bite my hand”

“I’m going to train my cat by letting her bite my hand”

“I’m going to train my horse by letting it bite my hand”

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

They are people who think the difference between an African grey and a moluccan cockatoo is their color.

Humans cannot move remotely as fast as a bird.

(That’s why we can’t fly when we flap our arms – most of the time).

Let me paint another scenario.

New caged bird caregiver

“I brought home a moluccan cockatoo but it was aggressive.

I made a fist so the bird couldn’t bite my finger only the back of my hand.

I learned that on Quora.

The bird came over and pecked at my hand which made me move my fist slightly allowing the bird to grab my index finger with its beak.

While I was panicking over my medical emergency and blood loss the blood-soaked red and white bird panicked as well, escaped from its cage and crashed into a window.

I am waiting to see if finger reattachment surgery will be successful.

The bird did not make it”.

I answer an 800 number that is seen by tens of thousands of website shoppers and pet bird people seeking solutions – monthly.

Anywhere from 2 to 20 times a day I answer the phone and get the following question in one form or another.

Caller “Do you have any of those big white birds for sale”

Me “big white birds?”

Caller “one of those big white birds that talks”

Me “I think you mean a cockatoo”

Caller “Yes that’s it!”

Me “Sorry we don’t sell birds” (we don’t – we work with private rescue networks around the country)

[videopress ZMf21HxU]

My point is potential bird owners reading these Quora answers can get very misled.

Anyone who has a dog thinks they know about caring for a pet.

Unfortunately, there are only one species of dog.

The majority of people starting out with pet birds assume if it has wings and a beak, care and maintenance are all the same.

Mealy Amazons, are the largest of the Amazon parrot species at 15 – 17 inches long weighing up to 2 lbs (about 900 grams)

The smallest Amazon, white-fronted Amazons are less than 10 inches long and weigh only about 220 grams, almost a quarter of a Mealy amazons weight.

Because they are Amazons, does not make them identical pet birds to keep

As an example

To be clear I am not a bird behaviorist

I’m a captive bird environmental specialist.

In general captive bird keepers do a less than stellar job of forming a bird’s “in the cage and out of the cage environments”.

Although birds receive and process an enormous amount of data via light absorbed in the pineal gland, a reliable data source is rarely provided – the full-spectrum light bulb (on a timer).

I don’t know the species of the grey.

To the question

I don’t know what age, sex or if it’s in a hormonal mode producing an egg which would make the bird actually more aggressive – temporarily.

Did you get the bird at a hormonal point which if left alone could possibly just go away or be treated with light therapy?

Greys are different birds at one versus 5 to 6-years-old vs 20 years old.

Where is the bird when you are trying to pet it?

On the cage – in the cage – on a chair?

Parrots bite because they are frightened.

Parrots are not aggressive animals they are prey animals.

Which begs the question is the bird flighted or clipped?

Birds have a proven method of self-preservation and that is bite or flight.


If they can’t fly because wings are clipped, they tend to be more aggressive biters.

Yes, clipping a bird’s wings only increases a bird’s potential for aggression and does not reduce hormonal activity.

I see questions like this one on Quora all the time

Answers are provided by avian hobbyists based on personal and anecdotal information.

Thus given the fact that I know nothing about the bird, there’s no way I’m prepared to give any advice.

Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

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