How Hard Do Cockatoos Bite?

Many birds have a habit of biting – it is just their way of being playful. It’s possible they’re over-stimulated too. Cockatoos are prone to this overload behavior. 

While they look super cute, cockatoos DO bite. They can get aggressive at times. Are they stressed or injured? 

Well, whatever the reason may be, a cockatoo’s bite can cause nerve damage and a crushing injury. They can’t bite off the finger, but cockatoos still bite quite hard. 

If you have a cockatoo at home, you might want to know about how hard they bite and why they bite. There’s a whole lot of information right here, so dive right in. 

How Hard Do Cockatoos Bite

Can Cockatoos Bite Your Finger? 

There are few birds out there that can bite off a finger. Cockatoos’ bite is quite damaging and painful. It causes nerve damage and a bad injury. But, there is no possibility of them amputating your finger permanently. 

Some cockatoos are extremely aggressive, so keep your child away from them. A super angry cockatoo can break a child’s finger just by biting it. Now that could hurt really bad! 

Behavioral issues are there with cockatoos, but there are some things you can do about the situation. Let’s first take a look at why they bite. 

Why Do Cockatoos Bite?

Biting is one of the worst behaviors of a cockatoo. Most parrots indulge in this ridiculous behavior, and that’s why you need to keep your fingers safe.

Even if your cockatoo eats with your hand, it doesn’t mean they can’t bite you. Biting happens to be a natural behavior for these birdies in the wild, so you need to take special care if your bird is aggressive. 

Let’s quickly take a look at some of the reasons behind a cockatoo bite: 

1.) Your Cockatoo does not trust you 

A snake or a dog won’t bite unless they’re fearful. There’s a reason why your cockatoo is biting you. When a cockatoo becomes an adult, they see the members of the family as a flock. 

Now, if a stranger comes close or the cockatoo doesn’t recognize someone, they will bite. 

The cockatoos might be afraid or they simply don’t trust you. These birds attack when they don’t trust someone or are afraid of strangers. 

2.) Excited much? 

Some cockatoos are just being playful, and it’s known as overload behavior. Whenever cockatoos are excited, don’t go near them or they’ll bite you. This is out of excitement, so don’t think otherwise. 

All cockatoos are different, so their body language might be different too. Do you see some changes in your cockatoo’s behavior? If you find they are too excited on some days, let them be. 

3.) A Stressed-out Cockatoo 

Your cockatoo might be tired or stressed. They need to sleep and rest for at least 12 hours. Let them get good rest and then try to handle them.

If your cockatoo hasn’t slept long, they will be cranky and tired. A tired cockatoo will be a mad cockatoo, so back off when they are cranky. 

4.) Do they have any illness or injury? 

What happens when you get sick? You feel awkward, tired, and cranky. When you’re in pain, you don’t want anyone to touch you. 

Cockatoo is sick

This is the time when you need rest. If someone tries to mess with you during this time, you will get cranky. If your cockatoo is sick, you should let the bird rest and not manhandle it. 

A sick bird needs rest! Don’t even think about touching their wounds as this would make them go crazy. Do not be surprised if they bite you. 

5.) Territorial behavior is common 

Most cockatoos are territorial. They don’t like anyone entering the cage or touching it. They will try to bite your finger if you get too up close and personal with the cage and the bird is new to your house. 

Training the cockatoo could be helpful. They’re such moody creatures, so it is best to control this behavior and not reward it. 

6.) It’s the Hormones

When cockatoos become sexually mature, they go through all kinds of hormonal changes. Cockatoos can get affected by these hormonal changes. 

Hormonal biting is hard to control, so you should avoid going too close to your cockatoo during the mating season. 

Well, these were some of the reasons why your cockatoo is biting you. Now, let’s take a look at signs that your cockatoo is going to bite you. You need to look out for these signs as they might have some bad days. 

Signs Your Cockatoo is Going to Bite 

“I’m in the mood, let’s go bite!” 

Cockatoos will showcase some warning signs beforehand. If you don’t take cues, they will bite. Notice the body language of your cockatoo. 

You need to learn what triggers the biting behavior. As a cockatoo parent, you will understand what ticks them off. 

Here are the signs your cockatoo is going to bite you (if you don’t back off): 

      • Ruffling of Feathers 
      • Lunging 
      • Hissing
      • Eye-Pinning
      • Head Bobbing 
      • The Stare 

Don’t ignore any of these signs. You can distract the cockatoo by talking to it. Leave them alone if you can, but never go near the bird. 

In case you get bitten, do not pull back or shout. Simply say ‘NO BITING’ in a loud and assertive tone. 

NO is a powerful word and some birds actually stop the bad behavior when you say it in a firm voice. 

The Bite Force of a Cockatoo: How hard do they bite? 

Cockatoo has major jaw strength, and so do other parrots. Large cockatoos have a bite force of approximately 350 psi. That’s crazy, right? 

Wild cockatoos have the power to cause significant damage to homes or furniture made of wood. You don’t want a moody and mad cockatoo in your home! 

Cockatoos are large parrots and they’re dangerous. Just because they look beautiful doesn’t mean they are not going to hurt you. Cockatoo bites are very painful – it’s worse than getting a slap or being hit. 

They can bite your lips, leave bad gashes on your legs and arms, and even destroy your little nose. Are you afraid already? Well, that’s certainly dangerous. 

You must know their beak is very strong against human fingers. Cockatoos have big beaks, so don’t underestimate their power to bite. 

The lower mandibles of a cockatoo have two prongs. Moreover, the upper jaw has a curved single point. This gives them the power to indulge in a three-way bite. 

Here’s some news: the cockatoos’ bite in the same form as a husky. So, you better back off when they’re mad! 

Can a Cockatoo Attack? 

Cockatoos attack anyone who tries to mess with them. When they are mad or moody, don’t try to pet them. They have the tendency to attack and bite anyone who enters their zone. 

They can scream loudly! It’s maybe due to frustration or they are just bored. The screaming behavior can go down if the parent trains them not to create a fuss. 

Cockatoos attack whenever they feel fearful or excited. Look out for the signs, but also learn how to reduce or control this biting behavior. 

What You Should Do When a Cockatoo Bites You? 

Cockatoo bites are lethal. You might want to cry, shout, and run in circles, but there are some things you need to keep in mind. 

Yes, there have been serious injuries, so you have to know what you should do after a cockatoo bite. 

If there is a cockatoo bite, there’s a possibility you will get blood. Wash the wound and put some antibacterial ointment. 

In case the cockatoo was bigger, you might need to go to the emergency room. There might be some stitches, but it is not a necessity unless the doctor recommends it. 

Cockatoos have fractured fingers on some occasions, and there can be major injuries. The wound might get infected if you let it go without any ointment. 

Meet a doctor and get the wound checked – it might be a small bite, but the doctor knows how to treat it. 

7 Efficient Ways to Deal with an Aggressive Cockatoo 

Cockatoos can get very aggressive at times. They might start biting all the members of the family. They are not trying to be Chucky from the horror movie, it’s just something that comes out of fear or stress. 

Have you tried to understand what triggers this behavior? Socializing the cockatoo is necessary, you can’t leave them alone for too long without any interaction. Giving them time-outs is as important. 

Is stress causing this behavior? You might want to change their habitat. Give them a much more peaceful and better place to live. Is the cage too small? Well, there could be many reasons. Maybe your child is harassing them by teasing and throwing stones. 

We will tell you about the seven efficient ways to deal with an aggressive cockatoo. Here’s what you need to do: 

1.) Know when and why your cockatoo is going to showcase aggressive behavior. If you have seen the signs already, back off and don’t go to the cage. This will help your cockatoo calm down.

They know you are respecting their emotions, so it’s possible they will calm down sooner or later. Do you see any triggers? Let’s say the color red triggers them, then don’t wear it in front of them.

Take a diary and note down all the triggers. If your child holds them too tight and they bite, it is the excessive handling that’s causing this biting behavior.

Have there been any changes in the environment? Did someone die in the family? Anything could trigger this aggressive behavior. So, find out the root cause instead of regretting your decision to keep a pet cockatoo. They’re beautiful birds. 

2.) Every kid hates it when they are grounded, and the same goes with a cockatoo. If your cockatoo bites when they’re outside the cage, keep them back in it for a little time-out. Time-out can be 5 to 10 minutes long. This will teach your cockatoo that aggressive behavior can lead to consequences like isolation.

3.) Never yell or run when you get bitten by a cockatoo. You must act calm and not showcase any dramatic behavior. Why is it so? Your cockatoo will indulge in mad behavior yet again if they know you will give a reaction. 

4.) Socialization is an absolute must when dealing with an aggressive cockatoo. They won’t be aggressive if they interact with members of the family regularly.

Isolation can make them mad, so don’t leave them alone for too long. Spend an hour with them, and let them leave the cage at times. How about letting the cockatoo sit on your arm and watch TV with it? Try to teach some new words to your cockatoo – this is a great bonding exercise. 

5.) How about moving the cage? You could move the cage to a different area where all the family members gather. Why would you want to isolate the bird? Don’t put them in a corner as they might feel bad. When they’re among the family, they feel safe and happy. Aren’t they a part of the family? 

6.) Chew toys can be great for cockatoos. There are chew toys for dogs as well as cockatoos. This way, they won’t be chewing or biting furniture. Cockatoos have a large beak, so let them chew on something like a toy.

7.) Reward good behavior with treats. Your cockatoos would behave properly if they know that good behavior translates to treats. Positive reinforcement works with most kinds of animals, even birds for that matter.

Teach them some good tricks and reward your little one with a treat. Whenever your cockatoo indulges in bad behavior, try to distract them. You can ask them to do a trick like spreading wings, dancing, or waving with one foot. If they do it, reward them with a treat. 

Well, the biting behavior can be quite destructive, so we would advise you to follow all the tips we’ve mentioned above. Aggressive behavior needs to stop as a cockatoo bite can be very painful. 

Have more queries? Check out the FAQs section now! 


What does it mean when a Cockatoo bites you? 

Cockatoos have large beaks. They can grasp different items and balance them. When they bite your hand, it’s probably because they want to break it. This might be a sign of aggression, but for them it is normal. 

Is a Cockatoo bite dangerous?

A cockatoo bite hurts a lot because the bird has a sharp and strong beak. These bites can cause severe damage to your skin. 

It might even cause bleeding and you will have to go to the doctor. In some cases, stitches are also needed. Larger cockatoos can break the bones of a little child with their bite.

Why is my Cockatoo suddenly aggressive?

It’s probably the lack of socialization, insecurity, hormonal changes, and sickness that is causing this behavior. 

Hormonal changes shall pass when the cockatoo matures, but territorial behavior stays. You need to train them not to indulge in destructive behavior.

Can a Cockatoo bite your finger off? 

Cockatoos are large and their bite is quite hard but does not have as much force. Their bites can cause severe nerve damage though, and it hurts a lot. 

Concluding Thoughts 

A cockatoo bird is adorable, but it needs a fair bit of training. Whatever tips we have mentioned will help you train your cockatoo. 

Take notes of the changes around them and whether they showcased bad behavior after the change. 

If it’s just the hormones, you might want to back off or distract them. Also, you need to ensure they stay in the family room and not alone. 

Make them feel like they’re a part of the family and don’t leave them alone for too long. An hour a day with your cockatoo can reduce their aggression. 

Susan R Elliston

I have over 11 years of experience as a vet working with a wonderful variety of species of innocent and lovely animals. Whilst I still work two days a week for a local practice, I realized that I could help more people by sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.

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