Umbrella Cockatoo fancinated with his tongue

by Annie

My 14yr old Umbrella Cockatoo (I have had him since birth and take him for yearly check-ups) has recently become fancinated with his tongue. He is constantly sticking it out the sides of his mouth and trying to see it and/or grabs it with his foot. At first it was funny, sort of when babies first notice their hands and feet but it's become annoying.

Comments for Umbrella Cockatoo fancinated with his tongue

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 28, 2012
Bird playing with tongue
by: The Avian Vet

Is your bird taking any medications? One drug (Haloperidol) in particular causes abnormal tongue movements. The other thing that comes to mind is that there may be something inside his mouth that is irritating to him. Could be infection or foreign body or maybe he ingested a toxin such as a plant like Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia).

Other wise it is a simple behavior which is expressed in cockatoos very frequently. If this is the case then I recommend that you provide distraction through foraging. You can work with your bird and in a very short time have him foraging for all of his food by using foraging toys and have no open dishes of food in the cage. This may be enough distraction to stop the behavior. It may also be his getting attention for it is causing him to do it more. So do your best to ignore it and even turn your back to him when he starts.

Dr B

Jan 27, 2012
Umbrella Cockatoo fancinated with his tongue
by: Linda

If your bird is very tame, try and open his mouth and look inside with a penlight if you have one. There may be something either in the mouth or on the tongue on back in the mouth that is causing this. Make sure there are no sores or irritated areas because I've never seen a bird do this which sometimes means there is a physical issue to deal with.

The other concern is birds who drink out of the water bottles with stainless steel mouth pieces. Unless they've changed the design, birds used to put their tongues up into the hole and get their tongues cut on the edges when removing their tongues. I've seen birds actually cut their tongues off because the drinkers used to be made with sharper edge around where the water comes out. Since they were made for small animals, they just drink and don't bother with putting anything in the hole because all their body parts are too large. I have not ever used a water bottle with birds because of this problem. It's easier to change their water bowls often than risk their tongues.

That was just an aside, and I do suggest you investigate his mouth to be sure there are no problems. Parrots love wooden toy pieces strung on either chain or cotton rope with knots between each toy piece, so you may wish to try and interest him in a new toy and see if he goes for it.

Thanks for writing and keep us posted on the Mystery of the Too Tongue!


Click here to add your own comments