Lucy Bingley - Clinical Animal Behaviourist

Pet Behaviour Counselling

www.petbehaviourhelp.co.uk

01449 736592 / 07879 493520 / lucy@petbehaviourhelp.co.uk

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Behaviour Problems in Birds, Reptiles and Horses

 

I'm qualified to give advice about behaviour problems in all pets, including birds and reptiles and horses. However, as most of my work is with dogs, cats and rabbits, I will usually refer "exotics" cases and horse behaviour to one of my colleagues who specialise in the species so that you have the benefit of their huge experience and expertise.

All animals are capable of learning and base their responses on past experiences; this means that reward-based behavioural modification is always possible.

Behaviour problems in birds include:

  • Screaming

  • Aggression

  • Feather picking / self-mutilation

  • Attention seeking

  • Over-attachment

  • Separation anxiety

  • Fearful behaviour

  • Compulsive behaviour

  • Withdrawal / anxiety

 

Behaviour problems in reptiles include:

  • Hiding / fleeing

  • Aggression

  • Withdrawal / anxiety

  • Compulsive behaviour

 

   

Causes of Behaviour Problems

Many of these species are prey animals, so are predisposed to respond fearfully to new situations by attempting to flee and hide, and if restrained are likely to use whatever weapons they have at their disposal in order to escape. Fear aggression may become a learned response that the animal or bird uses before the "threat" has even approached.

Behaviour problems often arise when an animal is required to make significant compromises in its natural behaviour in order to live alongside us. Even dogs and cats, with thousands of years of domestication behind them, have to adjust their behaviour to fit into our lives, so those species which have only recently been domesticated, or are only partially domesticated, are faced with all sorts of stress-inducing challenges when we bring them into our homes.

Due to their high intelligence, parrots are particularly prone to behaviour problems; while this makes them easy to train, it makes them demanding pets - they are easily bored and pick up bad habits very quickly. Because of the way they bond with other birds in the wild, parrots can also sometimes be confused about the relationship with their owner, giving rise to over-attachment and associated behaviour problems.

   

Prevention of Behaviour Problems

With all animals, experience has a major impact on future behaviour. It is therefore essential to always ensure that your pet is handled gently and carefully. Remember that the instinct of any prey animal is to avoid capture - for these types of animals and birds, allowing  them plenty of time to become accustomed to being handled will help to prevent fear-related problems.

If you have concerns about the behaviour of your horse, bird or other "exotic" pet, please don't hesitate to make contact and I will be happy to help you find an expert.

 

Website copyright 2016 (Lucy Bingley). Where noted, photos courtesy and copyright of Reed Cottage Photography www.reedcottagephotography.co.uk