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Masturbation in Birds

By Rick Axelson, DVM

Behavior, Pet Services

masturbation-1There are many different behaviors witnessed by owners of birds that are associated with sexual maturity and hormone fluctuations. At certain times of the year birds are under the powerful influence of sex hormones and will behave instinctively in distinct ways you have not witnessed before. Sexual behavior may be induced by many factors such as seasonal changes in daylight hours, environmental influences, diet and interactions with owners or favorite toys and objects. The behaviors will vary with species and individuals. They are not necessarily seen with every bird.

"Sexual behavior may be induced by many factors."

Masturbation occurs in small birds (budgies and cockatiels) and larger birds. They may be seen rubbing their cloaca or vent (underneath the tail) on a favorite toy, mirror, shoes, or on the hands, arms, or shoulders of amasturbation-2 person. Although this behavior is relatively harmless, it should be ignored rather than encouraged. Discourage the practice by distraction and redirection. Physical hugging and scratching around the head is fine, but scratching around the back, rump, and hind end may cause sexual stimulation. Redirect your bird's attention towards toys and healthy interactive play with you, the owner. If you cannot distract or redirect the bird, then quietly return him to his cage or play gym.

Your pet should never be punished or disciplined for masturbation under any circumstances.

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