Animals Have ‘Personal Space.’

All went well! Our trip down south was a success and we all had a good time. And that is a relief to write indeed.

The journey itself felt relatively fast – I needn’t have worried about it, as luck was on my side for once and there wasn’t a single baby. In fact, the entire cabin was quiet and I was even able to put Ptak’s cage on the seat beside me. He was happy being able to see me, and since half his cage was covered, he also could hide away if he felt everything getting to be too much. Most of the ride, though, he spent staring at the little girls two seats up with the same awed fascination they gave him.

He was amused and so were they.

Vaguely along those lines, I must admit, I am alarmed at how many people are willing to stick their fingers through the bars of a cage even when issued a warning from me… The bird has a beak; the bird can bite, folks, and it hurts! For someone who was taught the ‘no fingers through the bars’ lesson from the time I could walk, it’s hard to imagine invading the private space of any creature, small or large. Unfortunately, Ptak just doesn’t command the respect that a larger parrot does. People tend to assume that because he’s so cute and tiny, he is also harmless. Ha.

It is a mistake not to be made twice.

A bird will let you know how large its personal space is; each animal has its own individual preference. A parrot will not hesitate to bite if he thinks you’re in his space! Some people ask if birds have a concept of personal bubbles, and the answer is that just like with people, no creature likes to have its space invaded. This is instinctive, as animals want any potential threats to stay a safe distance away. Pet birds being prey animals, this makes sense.

Anyway, after spending most of the journey fending off the fingers of adults and kids alike – including one lady who owned African Greys and should really have known better (and who fortunately walked away unscathed) – I learnt my lesson. When we travel, there must always be a sign pinned to the bars (chewed a bit, hopefully, for effect) proclaiming that the bird bites. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that in the first place, really.

As a message to travellers: we appreciate your respect of our pets and consider it a great courtesy if you treat their space as you would ours. It’s okay to ask questions and even to peek, but please ask before putting fingers through bars. And to parents, this is a plea to you to educate your kids about animals. Nearly any creature can bite, and you don’t know which ones will without asking. None of us want fingers and feelings hurt!

Curiosity aside (and no, I don’t mind it!), everything went smoothly. We arrived at O.’s parent’s house and settled Ptak in as soon as we could. He immediately wanted out to explore, having been completely unfazed by the journey, and charmed everyone by happily stepping up. It was only a minute or two before he began zooming around the room, occasionally choosing a shoulder to land on. I forgot about my miraculous ability not to flinch as a bird crash-lands on my face.

Our stay went quickly, and Ptak was somehow behaving himself. Mostly. He did bite everyone at least once, but all things considering, I didn’t think that was too bad…

Overall, though, Ptak charmed everyone and enjoyed himself; it was a great way to socialise him, and hopefully educate O.’s family a bit about parrots. Mind you, it was also a good reminder that parrotlets will intimidate anyone if they think they can get away with it.

Our journey back home was even quieter than the one down, and now that we’re safely in, Ptak has been tucked away. Upon arrival he very promptly put himself in his cosy hut and went to sleep. I was going to get him out  and hopefully persuade him to eat and drink a bit – but he was quite determined to stay bit the crap out of our fingers when we tried. Ah, well.


‘Pfft, WHY are you taking pictures?’


3 thoughts on “Animals Have ‘Personal Space.’

  1. My parrot used to say “I bite, but I won’t bite you.” He’s a liar, so we tried to break him of that habit. Too many people see the whole “he bites” warning as a challenge.

    • Aww, that made me laugh aloud! I suppose it’s only kind of funny, as I’m sure your bird was well aware of what saying those words could accomplish. And I think you’re right about the whole ‘challenge’ of a biting bird. I often wish Ptak were bigger just so he’d garner a little more respect…

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