Description: Masturbation is sexual activity performed by a single pet bird, usually on a favored toy, perch, or in some cases, a human’s head, hand, foot or toe.
Single males most commonly masturbate. A male masturbates by bending its tail under the object, then rubbing its vent on it. Females masturbate by leaning forward and backing up while placing her vent on an object with her tail up and to the side. Both of these behaviors approximate what a bird would do during copulation.
Immediate Care: If done infrequently, behaviorists say masturbation is healthy, allowing the bird a natural release. If your bird is masturbating too often, you can often stop the behavior by removing the favored object. If the bird tries to masturbate on a human, gently but firmly tell your bird “No,” and return it to the cage.
Some birds regurgitate excessively on a toy as a part of masturbatory activity. Removing this toy will be helpful in curbing this behavior.
Long Term Care: Provide a masturbation toy for you bird occasionally, if necessary, but do not allow masturbating to become a frequent habit, as it can damage the cloaca and cause infection. Discuss this with your avian veterinarian if you feel that this behavior is becoming problematic or if it is excessive. Your vet can refer you to a bird behaviorist who can assist you in redirecting your bird’s behavior, once it has had a clean bill of health.
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Disclaimer: BirdChannel.com’s Diagnose Your Bird tool is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s ailment. If you notice changes in your bird’s health or behavior, please take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.