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Destructive behavior


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I'm new here,  Had a Grey some years ago,  took ill in her 30's (or so).   Recently took in a rescue said to be 14.  She is a rather sweet bird, talks a bit and is generally well behaved.   Took to me quite readily.  A few nips here and there as we acclimated.   Steps up readily and makes no fuss when I return her to or into cage.

After some weeks, she has become more confident and started to explore. There is the problem.  Caught here nibbling, destroying, wood trim around doors, cabinets, etc.   That HAS to stop.   So far my only "solution" has been to admonish, sternly, have her step up, which she does, more or less readily, and I return her to cage.  At first, just to the cage, but, as she showed how stubborn she can be, repeating the behavior, I started putting her in the cage and latching the doors.   Spends most of her time pacing and sometimes at food cup, taking a nibble or two.  Sometimes just perches on the food bowl for long periods.  That may indicate hunger or just a comfort zone?

Suggestions?

 

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Hi Joea,

 If she's clipped, then you could look into getting her an adjacent perch that she could climb onto from her cage. If she climbs off her cage and onto the floor, you might want to also look into getting a surrounding gate for her.

If she's flighted, then perhaps you could rearrange those things close to the door jams, etc where she could possibly land and get into chewing.

You could also look into getting her some wood blocks she could tear apart. Even blank strips of cardboard pieces are a joy for greys to shred. 

Hope these few ideas are helpful!

 

 

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They can be persistent little buggers, can't they?!

Firstly, welcome to the forums! Looking forward to learning more about you and your grey.

I have a cat tree in my living room which has some wicker baskets. Alfie loves to fly over to it and start shredding it, which obviously I don't want him to do because it wouldn't leave much left for the cats. Unfortunately Alfie is just exhibiting a natural behaviour with his shredding. So I distract him. I have some shelves which he hangs out on and I leave toys, treats and boxes for him up there. It works... mostly, but he'll always try and land on the cat tree at least once. When he is out I put some cushions on the beds so it's a little trickier for him to reach the wicker parts... he sees that as a challenge and hangs upside down on the cushions to reach the next wicker bed 🤣 So I say 'no' and ask him to step up on a perch and move him somewhere else where I want him to play instead.

I don't tend to use his cage as a punishment or time out area, because I want him to readily go back in there when it's bed time. He can stay out of his cage and he can go on the cat tree, but as soon as he tries to shred it, he gets moved somewhere else. He knows this... but it doesn't stop him trying!! 😆

Has your grey got a play area? I think it's mainly just a case of diverting them to another area where you WANT them to play, chew, shred and continue with all those natural behaviours. The only problem is trying to find a way to make that place much more desirable than the door frames etc they are currently chewing. You could also try moving them to the play area and then rewarding them with treats for staying there/playing with toys instead of chewing the doors.

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6 hours ago, neoow said:

They can be persistent little buggers, can't they?!

Firstly, welcome to the forums! Looking forward to learning more about you and your grey.

I have a cat tree in my living room which has some wicker baskets. Alfie loves to fly over to it and start shredding it, which obviously I don't want him to do because it wouldn't leave much left for the cats. Unfortunately Alfie is just exhibiting a natural behaviour with his shredding. So I distract him. I have some shelves which he hangs out on and I leave toys, treats and boxes for him up there. It works... mostly, but he'll always try and land on the cat tree at least once. When he is out I put some cushions on the beds so it's a little trickier for him to reach the wicker parts... he sees that as a challenge and hangs upside down on the cushions to reach the next wicker bed 🤣 So I say 'no' and ask him to step up on a perch and move him somewhere else where I want him to play instead.

I don't tend to use his cage as a punishment or time out area, because I want him to readily go back in there when it's bed time. He can stay out of his cage and he can go on the cat tree, but as soon as he tries to shred it, he gets moved somewhere else. He knows this... but it doesn't stop him trying!! 😆

Has your grey got a play area? I think it's mainly just a case of diverting them to another area where you WANT them to play, chew, shred and continue with all those natural behaviours. The only problem is trying to find a way to make that place much more desirable than the door frames etc they are currently chewing. You could also try moving them to the play area and then rewarding them with treats for staying there/playing with toys instead of chewing the doors.

Thanks for the welcome and the tips.    Don't have a play area, as such, just "play top" on the cage.  Which came missing two bowls, now on order.  Not much to attract her there.  Tried a bell and now have a hanging "toy" with different bits designed to be shredded.  One of those inside the cage as well.  There are some similar chewable things in the cage, and the bell, but, she ignores them, mostly.  She will nibble at them when I coax her, but, mostly to humor me, I think as they are ignored when I'm not doing that.

Problem, for me, in not using the cage as time out, is I cannot attend to her every minute and often have to leave for a couple of hours a day.  She does not, so far, seem resistant to going to the cage, which I leave open at night, so she perches on it, rarely in it, at night.

I'll try better decoys and substitutes.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Greytness said:

Hi Joea,

 If she's clipped, then you could look into getting her an adjacent perch that she could climb onto from her cage. If she climbs off her cage and onto the floor, you might want to also look into getting a surrounding gate for her.

If she's flighted, then perhaps you could rearrange those things close to the door jams, etc where she could possibly land and get into chewing.

You could also look into getting her some wood blocks she could tear apart. Even blank strips of cardboard pieces are a joy for greys to shred. 

Hope these few ideas are helpful!

She is not clipped and has flown a few times, when startled.  She climbs down and walks into the hall way and kitchen.   There is a small "pass through" between the kitchen and her cage area, so she can hear and see any activity in there.

I've thought about an enclosure or blocking the doorway into the kitchen (no door installed).  Would have to be something not "climbable" though.

I should add that play blocks (kids) and are in her cage.  Always room for improvement.  I just noticed the bell I hung up requires her to stretch up quite a bit to reach it.  So I just put it on a chain to make it easy to reach.

Edited by joea
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We use sheer tie back curtains between the bird area and the living room. Below the curtains is a pet gate. When the birds are out flying around we close up the curtains and gate. Has worked really well for us!

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1 hour ago, Greytness said:

We use sheer tie back curtains between the bird area and the living room. Below the curtains is a pet gate. When the birds are out flying around we close up the curtains and gate. Has worked really well for us!

Could you provide more detail, links to such items, or pictures, perhaps?  Not really visualizing it.

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If you have space, you could get a play stand or a tree for her to play on. Or if you're handy at DIY you could build one. Or if floor space is limited you can use walls and ceilings to hang toys/perches from (so long as drilling holes into walls and ceilings is ok, of course!) Or you might be able to jazz up the play area on top of her cage by putting some extra perches on the outside of the cage (space allowing) and hanging some toys on/around it. If she likes shredding you could maybe leave a couple of small boxes up there filled with treats and toys for her to shred and play with. It's a good foraging activity for her and if she's interested, it might keep her busy for a little while!

You can try rewarding her when she hangs out and plays in the 'acceptable' areas. Make a big deal of how great it is to be there and maybe give her some tasty treats. When she starts doing something she's not supposed to, quietly ask her to step up and remove her from that area. No fuss, no treats. Move her to an acceptable area. If she then stays there for a few mins make a big fuss about how great it is and reward her for staying there. (I wouldn't reward her straight away for being moved to the 'acceptable' play area, because otherwise she may start deliberately going for the bad areas just to be rewarded when moved... they're crafty like that!!)

Or if moving her back to her cage works then carry on with that. Either way, you're trying to make the doors/cupboards that she's chewing as boring and dull as possible, and any acceptable areas as fun and entertaining as possible, so they're more attractive to her and she prefers hanging out there. She will always still want to explore and get up to no good, you'll never fully prevent that. But hopefully she'll get to the point where she's happy to go for a wander to explore, but will return to the 'fun' places you've created for her. That's the idea, anyway! In reality, they'll do what they want, when they want!! 🤣

Unfortunately, having a bird is like having a toddler. They will always try and push boundaries and get into things they're not supposed to! And they are pretty stubborn with it, too! 🤣

I've included some photos of the things I've done for Alfie to give him different places to play out of his cage.

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Java perch on the side of his cage with a couple of toys plus a rope hoop hanging from the ceiling. He can also get to the top of the mantle piece and roam around there.

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Rope perch on the other side of his cage, with a couple of toys. I put a hanging basket hook/bracket on the wall and hung the 'orbit' toy from it, which he likes to climb and swing on. Plus an extra toy hanging from that which he likes to beat the snot out of.

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This is his favourite place to hang out- the shelves above my sofa. I used to have ornaments and nice things on there but he kept flying over there and knocking everything off. I got tired of removing ornaments when I let him out and putting them back when he was in his cage so I just gave up and let him have the shelves. He has a few toys up there, a box for shredding, I hung his boing from the ceiling (he LOVES that thing) and I hung a toy from the ceiling too. You can see he has peeled the shelves because they were some cheap veneer covered ones that came with the house, so I'm looking to pull everything out and redesign this area for him.

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This java tree is on the corner of my desk in my home office. He also has a second cage in here so he can join me when I'm working from home. I can then let him out and he has a place to hang out. He likes watching out of the window from up there. There are also some shelves the opposite side of the room that he usually flies to and shoves everything off... I haven't given him those shelves... yet... so have to pick up everything he's chucked off each time! There's a couple of toys and a bell hanging from this tree but he mostly uses it to snooze on... and neighbour watch out of the window.

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I thought this was a good idea at the time- a hanging perch with a couple of food bowls. It's next to the dining table. However, he obviously finds it boring because he never hangs out there. He'll sit there for a while if I ask him to step up there, and might have a snack whilst he's there... but I obviously need to do a bit more work on this space to make it more interesting for him. It's going to have to move anyway as I'm knocking the wall out behind it soon... but I may get rid of it entirely as it takes a fair amount of space and has barely been used.

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Thanks for all the suggestions.  I figured she was bored but nothing seemed to keep her interest for long. 

One of the suggestions triggered me to get a simple small brown cardboard box and introduce it to her.  Immediate casual interest.  So, after a bit, I put it on her cage "play top" open end to one side and she took to exploring it immediately.  She is now happily destroying it, bit by bit and seems quite pleased.  I'm almost laughing at the situation now. 

Thanks much.

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On 6/22/2021 at 5:08 PM, joea said:

Thanks for all the suggestions.  I figured she was bored but nothing seemed to keep her interest for long. 

One of the suggestions triggered me to get a simple small brown cardboard box and introduce it to her.  Immediate casual interest.  So, after a bit, I put it on her cage "play top" open end to one side and she took to exploring it immediately.  She is now happily destroying it, bit by bit and seems quite pleased.  I'm almost laughing at the situation now. 

Thanks much.

Kept her interested most of the day and into a second.  Now into a second box  She has not ventured to the woodwork at all.   In fact, seems almost obsessed with the box, occasionally venturing out for food and water.   I put the semi destroyed box in an open space under her cage,  where I have a towel to catch any water spilled from bathing (rarely done now), in hopes to catch her attention just in case she decides to go for a walk.

Sometimes she will stop and sit on the edge of the cage, looking expectantly, but when she sees me and has "made eye contact", turns and begins to attack the box anew.  Occasionally turning her head, perhaps just to see "if I noticed"?   She does notice when I do cage maintenance and will utter her "sigh" sound, as she would before, only pausing in the box killing activity if I happen to  jostle the cage or bang a door too loudly.

Normal?

 

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Timber loves his boxes, and it never gets old for him either. He has 3 on top of his cage now (A box, in a box, in a box). At least one will have to be replaced by the end of the day!

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Alfie loves boxes and will spend hours shredding them. He pays absolutely no attention to me if he has a good box to shred. 

Some people advise against giving boxes in case it promotes nesting behaviours but thankfully I've never had this issue with Alfie.

You can mix it up as well, add some shredded paper or foot toys or trees to the box so she finds them as she shreds the box. Or like timersmom says, a box within a box within a box. The best box Alfie had was from a friend who had ordered some beers for his brother online. He donated the box they came in for Alfie to shred and it had cardboard partitions in to stop the beer bottles from clashing together during transit. Alfie thought all his Christmases and birthdays had come at once with that one. Decent crunchy cardboard with 12 small sections to get through- it kept him going for weeks! 🤣

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That just reminded me, you know those cardboard (funny texture stuff) that McDonald's uses as drink carriers? Timber loves those. He shreds them to bits in short order, but you would think it was Christmas morning when he gets one. I don't know what he finds so attractive about them, but I have family save them if they get one.

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21 hours ago, Greytness said:

Cardboard strips tucked into the cage bars as well as stringing them onto a stainless steel chain entertain my birdies for hours!

I tried that before the box.   She was like "yeah, well, what else ya got?".  Did not try the chains tho.

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25 minutes ago, Timbersmom said:

That just reminded me, you know those cardboard (funny texture stuff) that McDonald's uses as drink carriers? Timber loves those. He shreds them to bits in short order, but you would think it was Christmas morning when he gets one. I don't know what he finds so attractive about them, but I have family save them if they get one.

Don't go there any more, but might see if I can find similar items, or friends that go there.   I wonder if egg cartons would be a thing?  Possible salmonella, etc?

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After a certain level of destruction, maybe 2/3 left, she begins to wander a bit.  A brand new one gets her full attention again.   Keeping the residue in check seems to be my only complaint at this point.  And getting enough new boxes. . . .

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Also, don't forget to strip tape and labels before you give them to her. We keep any box (like cracker boxes, kleenex boxes) for the box in a  box in a box setup. Timber much prefers the heavier, corrugated stuff but will chew through the thinner stuff if it's inside the corrugated.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Vannah loves the boxes too! We ended up with 3 eggs and a broody been over the bigger boxes, but the smaller ones she can't climb into are just as well recieved. I make her treat toys with paper towel and toilet paper tubes too. Too keep her off the base boards we put down a rug with the edges over the baseboards. We wedged pool noodles between the legs of the coffee table to keep her out from under it. That worked for keeping her from chewing on it too. We close doors to rooms where she likes to explore unsupervised as well. 

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