Pikachu the cockatiel will not relieve himself in his cage

White face Pearl Grey cockatiel on mans shoulder
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Hello Mitch,

Here’s my problem

Pikachu the cockatiel will not relieve himself in his cage.

He is usually out with us when we are home, and even insists on sleeping on me; but if we need to go out, he is caged for his safety.

However, if we are gone for the day, he will not poop.

He will wait until we let him out of the cage and make a humongous turd.

Should I be worried about this? Is it normal? I know we spoil him, and he is very attached to us, but I hate to see him suffer because of it.

anonymous 

well anonymous

You are actually lucky because unfortunately many birds will poop where they eat and sleep but yours does not.

In cases where birds do poop in these places is often because their cage is too small or the arrangement of perches and toys is not carefully thought out.  

No bird poops while it sleeps. This results in that the first poop of any morning being really ginormous.

This does not harm the birds, it is nature.

It prevents it falling on other birds in the same tree or giving away the location of roosting places to predators in the wild.

Your bird is doing the same as the natural instinct imposes, only adding any cage time into the mix of times not to poop.

Think of it as how humans don’t “go” at inappropriate times, like during sleep, but we really have to go badly on waking — hence the evolution of the two and three bathroom house (j/k).

I have to wonder how large his cage happens to be because he clearly will not poop near where he sleeps or eats.

Usually cage size would be compensated for by the amount of time he is out of the cage but since he refuses to poop anywhere in the cage perhaps a larger cage would help him feel he had a spot to go without contaminating his home.

Also, keeping the cage fastidiously clean is especially important to this type of bird, since being near his own potty area clearly bothers him.

My first sun conure, SunDance, refused to poop where she lived even though her cage was large and someone was always home with her.

Plus she would not leave her cage when she was alone because someone wasn’t in her immediate sight.

We left her door turned into a “porch” and she would only poop on her porch so that it fell onto newspaper on the floor that was refreshed daily.

I also once had a super-fastidious budgie.

I kept her cage papers changed out daily with fresh cage liner yet during the day she would remove any poop once it hardened a bit, take it to the opened door and drop it to the floor paper.

She never tried to eat it, just removed it from her clean home. The only solution I found was to change her papers twice per day so the poop didn’t have time to become firm enough for her to pick up.

It helped but I still found her at times trying to pick up poop and removing it.

Depending on time of day and how much lead time you have before putting him in his cage before leaving home for a while, you could remove food for a bit of time before you leave so that he will not have as much in his body to need to release.

But that is only practical if you are only going to leave for a short time.

You don’t want him to feel overly hungry and birds eat very often when awake.

Most likely the reason why your bird “appears” to be not pooping in its cage, the little bugger sleeps most of the time while you are gone and as such does not poop much.

Because birds evolved to allow them to hold their potty functions during the period from sunset to dawn and during some seasons that is as long as 12 hours.

Unless you are away from longer periods than that, I do not think he is suffering or that you are harming him, especially since you don’t go away for a whole day often.

Runs to shop for a few hours — less than all day — will not hurt him at all since most companion birds sleep away many of the hours their humans are gone.

Believe me, if he became too uncomfortable, he would go whether in or out of his cage.

Just as a person who has been restrained and can’t go to a bathroom will eventually become so in need of relief that there is no option but to relieve themselves wherever they are, so will Pikachu.

But do try to avoid putting him in this position. Believe me if you wait long enough there will be plenty of poop to go around.

Is he a rehomed bird?

If so, perhaps he was potty trained very well to go on a paper or into a trash can outside the cage when asked.

Experiment and see if this is the case with Pikachu. If it is the case, get him to go just before you depart and, of course, immediately on return.

Are you sure it is a male?

Female birds are well known for holding their poop in while maintaining a nest, etc.

If a female with forming eggs, it also can be held back between laying as there is only one opening.

best
Nora

gregxxxxxxx@hotmail.com asks

Hello.

I recently, one week ago, took in a rescue cockatiel that was found in a garage hiding from a barking dog.

I do not know his history.

I had him vet checked and he is very healthy. From the very beginning he stepped up to my finger and hand without biting.

He did do some gentle pecking but nothing aggressive.

Yesterday, I gave him a bath and he didn’t seem to mind it.

However, ever since his bath, he has been very aggressive and has broken skin in four places on my hands.

I do not jerk or yell but rather put him back in his cage. I do say “no” in a firm voice.

I also have a blue and gold macaw which I have had for 11 years so I am not a novice bird owner.

However, I have not experienced this type of aggressiveness before.

Can you tell me what steps I can take to gain his full trust and stop the biting behavior?

Did the bath cause this to start? 

As I said, he was gentle until he got his bath yesterday.

Thanks.

Greg D.

Hi Greg

I feel your pain.

We too rescued a beautiful albino cockatiel several years ago was with us for about three and half years until she passed of cancer.

It’s hard to say with the biting trigger is I doubt it was the bath.

It may be that other big blue bird in the room.

It could be he or she is reacting to the loss of the other human.

You do say you have only had the bird a little over a week and it could very well be that the reason you were able to get the bird on your finger in the beginning is that the bird was tired, hungry and weak.

But after a week of a warm home and good food it was now well enough to show its true nature of not being quite as tame as it seemed a week earlier.

We had that happen with a parakeet, thought to be tame, but was not. We still have her, Bacon, and gave her friends Eggs, Toast and Jam to live with.

I would start with clicker training using a millet spray which will keep 5 inches between your hand and the birds beak.

Also try introducing a perch for the bird to step up on so as to avoid the bite in any ill will between the two of you.

Hope that helps

best

mitchr

Author:

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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