Can a Parrot Bite Your Finger Off?

Two eclectus parrots on wooden perch. One red with blue wings and the other almost all green

You’re training your new pet parrot and a couple of times, they’ve nipped your finger. The bird hasn’t broken any skin, but you worry about what could be, especially considering this is your first parrot. Could they bite hard enough to cause serious damage?

Can a parrot bite your finger off? Parrots have a bite force between 300 and 700 pounds per square inch, which is not strong enough to bite your finger off. You could end up cut and bleeding, and larger parrots can bite hard enough to break bones, but your fingers will still be attached.

If you’re still feeling a bit iffy about getting too close to your pet parrot, this is the article for you. In it, I’ll explain further the bite force of larger versus smaller parrots as well as what to do if you’re ever bitten. 

Let’s get started!  

How Strong Is a Parrot’s Bite? Could It Bite Your Finger Off?

Sometimes our imaginations can get the better of us, which is why you’re picturing your parrot biting and removing your finger, leaving a gory scene behind. You’re starting to get nervous to be too close to your parrot.

The good news is that your fears are unfounded. Parrots cannot bite your finger off, whether we’re talking about a small parrot or even a larger one (keep reading for more on bigger parrots!). 

The bad news is that parrot bites will hurt because the animal has quite a strong bite force. 

As a quick definition, bite force is measured in pounds per square inch of pressure or PSI and determines how forcefully an animal can bite.

We people have a bite force, and it’s about 162 PSI. A parrot’s bite force is anywhere from 300 to 700 PSI. The typical small to mid-sized parrot has a bite force of 300 to 400 PSI. 

Is that a lot? Allow me to provide some context. A dog’s bite force is estimated to be 230 to 250 PSI. A lion has a bite force of around 650 PSI, followed by tigers (1,050 PSI), hyenas (1,100 PSI), gorillas (1,300 PSI), and hippos (1,800 PSI).

The most ferocious creature with the biggest bite force? It’s practically a tie between crocodiles (3,700 PSI) and sharks (up to 4,000 PSI).

Okay, so let’s put the bite force of your parrot into perspective. Parrots are certainly strong-beaked creatures, as their bite force is greater than most dogs, but they’re not stronger than a gorilla or a hippo.

Still, you don’t want to get bitten by a parrot, as the lacerations the bites can leave can be very painful. 

What Is the Bite Force of a Large Parrot?

Until this point, I’ve been talking about smaller or average-sized parrots that are over 3.5 inches and weigh more than 2.25 ounces. What happens if you keep a larger parrot such as an African grey or even a macaw, which is regarded as the biggest parrot?

Well, the bigger the animal, the stronger its bite force. 

Remember how in the last section I presented a range for a parrot’s bite force up to 700 PSI? That range is only achievable by bigger birds. 

A typical bite range for parrots of this size is 600 to 700 PSI. Yes, that’s enough bite strength that your macaw out-bites a lion, which is pretty mind-boggling when you stop and think about it. 

On top of the lacerations, cuts, or punctures that a large parrot’s beak can cause, you have to worry about the potential for broken bones as well. 

What Should You Do If You’ve Been Bitten By a Parrot?

Let’s say the worst happens and your parrot does more than nip you when you’re feeding it, but they latch onto your finger and clamp down. It was an accident, you’re pretty sure, but the amount of pain you’re in is dizzying. 

What should you do now? Here’s what I’d advise.

Step 1: Close the Parrot’s Cage

You might be upset with your parrot now, but they’re still your pet and you love them. Although you’re in pain, secure your parrot’s cage so there’s no risk of them getting out while you address your injuries. If you’re too hurt to do this, have someone else in the house take care of it. 

Step 2: Look at the Wound

No one wants to inspect a bloody wound up close and personal, but that’s what you have to do. If you’re too squeamish, then again ask another household member to inspect the wound for you.  

What exactly are you looking for here? Mostly lacerations. If your skin isn’t broken, or if the skin broke but you’re not badly bleeding, then you can administer basic wound treatment from the comfort of your home. 

Step 3: For Less Severe Injuries, Treat at Home

To begin wound care, clean the injured area using soap and water. This prevents bacteria from spreading to the wound, which could enter your bloodstream and make you very ill. 

Next, search your medicine cabinet for a disinfectant with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. Apply the disinfectant on the wound, using a generous amount. Dry the area using clean gauze. 

Be prepared for the disinfectant to cause you quite a bit of pain, but the stinging means it’s working.

Then apply a standard antibiotic ointment with bacitracin or neomycin, which is yet a third defense against bacteria from the bird bite. The ointment will also improve wound healing speed.

Now it’s time to bandage the wound. Wrap adhesive bandages around the area where the bite occurred, securing the bandages with tape. Once a day, open the bandages, treat the wound, and then re-wrap it.  

Step 4: For Serious Injuries, Seek Medical Attention 

What if your parrot bit you but it won’t stop bleeding? Or what if you think your finger might be broken, but you’re just not sure? Those types of injuries are considered severe and thus should not be treated at home. 

You need to be transported to the closest medical facility so you can receive professional treatment. 

Can Parrot Bites Carry Disease? 

Although it might have seemed like overkill to apply two anti-bacterial treatments on your parrot bite wound before you bandaged it, there’s a reason you should take such precautions. Parrots are known disease carriers, and yes, that includes the pet bird in your cage right now.

One such disease you could contract is called parrot fever. Here’s what you need to know.

Parrot Fever – Symptoms and Treatments

Psittacosis or parrot fever is a bacterial disease attributed to Chlamydia psittaci, a type of bacteria. 

Parrot fever is considered quite rare. This Healthline article says that, according to the CDC, from 2010 onward, there are fewer than 10 instances of humans having parrot fever. 

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you though! It’s just very uncommon.

Other birds can cause parrot fever, despite the name. They include ducks, cockatiels, parakeets, pigeons, turkeys, and chickens. Birds with the infection will manifest certain signs. 

Your parrot might be sleepy and slow, they might lose a lot of weight, and their feces will turn green. The bird will have diarrhea as well as nose and eye discharge and breathing difficulties as well. 

Being bitten by an infected parrot is one way to contract Chlamydia psittaci, but it’s not the only way. 

It can take up to 10 days post-bite for symptoms to occur and sometimes nearly 20 days. What’s worse is the symptoms mirror the flu enough that you might think that’s what you have.

You could experience symptoms like:

  • Dry cough
  • Exhaustion
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Fever

If you have light sensitivity, breathing issues, and chest pain on top of the above symptoms, that makes it clear you’re not suffering from the flu.

The most serious causes of parrot fever can cause heart, liver, and brain inflammation as well as pneumonia, so it can be deadly!

To treat parrot fever, a doctor will administer antibiotics such as doxycycline or tetracycline. 

Why Do Parrots Bite? Understanding Your Pet 

It only takes one instance of being bitten by your pet parrot for you to never want it to happen again. Once you understand why your parrot acts this way, you can make concerted efforts to correct its bad behavior.

Here are some reasons a parrot bites its owner or others in its life.


Did you know your parrot can get bored? Indeed, it can! 

Like many other pets, parrots need mental as well as physical stimulation. Failing to provide them with anything mentally exciting to do in their cage could increase the risk of the bird biting. 


You don’t behave nicely when you’re stressed, right? Parrots too don’t like feeling stressed and could bite to indicate a problem. 

So what stresses out a parrot? Moving into a new house will leave your bird stressed for a while, although your parrot should adjust with time. 

Being near loud noises upsets them, as does bringing home a new pet, introducing new people to the family, or changing its environment in small ways such as painting the cage a different color. 

Hormonal Changes

Like cats and dogs, parrots have hormones that can make them behave out of character at times. 

You’ll know your parrot’s behavior is being driven by hormones when they’re increasingly more vocal. They will make a nesting site and sometimes regurgitate what you feed them. A hormonal parrot might also begin removing feathers from between their legs or on their chest.

Parrots undergo hormonal changes in adolescence, but during breeding season, their hormones can fluctuate once more, possibly leading to bitten fingers for you. 


This is more likely to occur if you have more than one bird in the cage or enclosure, but a territorial parrot will want to protect what it perceives as theirs. Whether it thinks you’re encroaching on its home or even trying to take away its food, you could get pecked for your efforts. 


It’s not enough to socialize a parrot from a young age; you have to do so continually, or it will lose its comfort with you and become fearful instead. A scared bird will bite in defense! 

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