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Parrot is chewing all the wrong things

Our cockatiel, B*B*, loves chewing on our wicker furniture. I have sprayed it with vinegar (I couldn't think of anything else) and he still chews it. He has already ruined the legs of two chairs and one foot rest. He has plenty of toys and food and is out of his cage all day. He has his wings clipped. B*B* also chews the wood around his playground. What kind of wood can we buy so he will only chew that?

-- Johanna,

AH, THE CHEWING PARROT, a sign of a healthy, happy bird and frustrated homeowner all rolled into one! Parrots (and yes, a cockatiel is a parrot) chew and that is all there is to it. Just as with children, it's important that we focus on teaching our animals what they can do, and not focus on giving them a list of things they can't. Find something that he likes to chew on even more than he likes your wicker furniture. Natural (nontoxic) branches from your yard (herbicide and pesticide free of course), dry pasta, cardboard, paper towels, vegetables, balsa or pine "chew sticks" commonly sold for birds and small animals, wooden craft sticks or tongue depressors, even pine wood from the lumber yard (untreated of course) or whatever else you can think of. It's just like training a new puppy. Keep him well supplied in approved chewables and redirect his attention to these anytime you catch him chewing something he shouldn't. .

If you have exhausted your ideas for alternative chewing pleasure for your little cockatiel, there are products on the market to discourage chewing such as Bitter Apple and Bitter Orange. However, I will warn you that there are animals who not only don't mind the taste, but seem to like it!

Grey Fisher Grey Fisher is a trainer at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. Previously he was a trainer with Natural Encounters, Inc., a world-renowned organization that helps zoos all over the world train birds and many other types of animals using positive reinforcement. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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