My budgie has lost trust in me and is now very aggressive. Advice?
Earlier this year in March, my budgie Skittles started having respiratory issues. Her symptoms eventually went away thanks to a few different types of oral medication provided by the vet. But administering the meds was very stressful for both of us. I was anxious and not tight enough with my grip, so there was a lot of wriggling free from my grasp, screeching, and having to be chased down in my room and restrained again. Sometimes it would go on for 15 minutes at a time, and she was on oral meds for nearly 3 weeks. Skittles hated it. After tips from this forum and the vet, I started using a tighter grip (previously I was worried I'd crush her head). Still, she hated it.
Soon after that, she got a lot more aggressive and temperamental. She used to perch contentedly on my finger and shoulder. Now, she almost always frantically bites and pecks at my hand when perched. Sometimes she shies away from my finger, but often will hop right on and get right to the attacking. And just to give an idea of how hard she'll bite, it feels like she comes close to drawing blood on occasion. Her aggression is consistent, too; the pecking behavior is the same regardless of molting or time of day.
She used to let me give her head scritches. No more of that now. No more hand feeding, either. She pecks at my hand instead of the food! She does still seem fine with my fingers being in close proximity to her, which is still much better compared to when she was a newly bought budgie and extremely frightened of my presence.
I can't help but feel the stress of being restrained by me during the medicine treatment has made Skittles lose trust in me. I'm disappointed, but not totally surprised. I just wasn't expecting her to be so aggressive. I refuse to think my relationship with her has been permanently ruined. I'm just not sure what the best course would be for rebuilding this trust. She's also about 4 years old if that helps.
Any tips or pointing me in the right direction of a relevant guide would be very much appreciated.
Iím sorry that you and Skittles are going through this and I think youíre right that the cause was having to restrain her to give her medication. With time and a lot of patience, you should be able to reverse the damage and regain her trust, but it means going all the way back to step one and working with her like you would a new Budgie. If you go to the ĎTaming and bondingí section of the forum, thereís a lot of great advice there, as well as steps you can follow.
I, too, am sorry you and Skittles had this experience when administering the medication.
I agree that her current temperament may have been influenced by the three weeks of oral medication and the stress she experienced.
Is she in condition by any chance? Sometimes hormones will increase a female's aggressive tendencies.
I don't think there is much you can do except give her time and space. I wouldn't attempt to handle her at all.
Go back to step one and sit by her cage and sing, read and talk to her. Let her know that you are there and interacting with her but aren't expecting to touch her in any way.
After a week or so, rest your hand on the outside of the cage when you talk to her so she'll learn that your hand is safe and will not hurt her.
After a week, rest your hand inside the cage when you talk.
Donít make sudden moves, donít try to touch her.
Let her get used to the idea that the hand is now in her safe place and not harming her.
After 2 weeks, begin moving your hand slowly toward your budgie. If she becomes agitated, stop moving your hand and just hold very still until she calms down. When she's comfortable with your hand near her, you can offer her a bit of millet or a few seeds. If she still becomes aggressive and bites your fingers instead of the food, then back off. Hold your hand on the other side of the cage to see if she will come to you and take the seeds or millet properly or if she still insists on biting.
Always work at your budgie's pace.
Move slowly and talk reassuringly and calmly to her whenever you interact with her.