Cygnet won’t stop biting it’s sisters back. Is this normal sibling behaviour?

Pheonix1996

In the Brooder
Oct 26, 2021
5
7
11
Ok so I have two baby black swan cygnets that we incubated and hatched recently. The Cygnets (Savana and Aurora) are just over two weeks old and seem to be happy and healthy. One of our issues we are having though is that Aurora won’t stop biting Savana on her back. We have struggled to get her to stop it but she wont. And when I say she “wont stop” I mean she literally follows her sister around, nibbling on her back. To the point that Savana constantly has a patch on her back that is sopping wet from Auroras slobber. Savana doesn’t seem to take much notice of it and it doesn’t seem like aggressive behaviour but they are both getting bigger now and because Savana was the first to hatch and Aurora was the 3rd and needed a lot of assistance to hatch 48 hours later so Savana is just that little bit bigger than Aurora and she is getting abit anoyed with the constant biting so i want to try and correct the behaviour while they are young. We have tried making a cape for her out of an old stretchy shirt sleeve so it covered her back, which worked… but it kept slipping and we didn’t want to make it hard for her to walk so we stopped. Help? Suggestions? Resources? 😅

-one note to add though, when Aurora was born because she needed so much assistance to hatch and that it took 48hours, she was very weak and was very fragile for the first 72 hours after finally separating from her egg. She didn’t seem to be recovering in the incubator by herself, so in a final attempt to keep her alive we decided to move her too the brooder where Savana was in hopes it might conjure some strength to keep alive. And if it didn’t at least she wouldn’t of been alone when she passed. But (thank gosh!) it worked! When we layed her in the brooder she seemed more or less the same, but Savana came over and started preening her, she kept preening her and pushing Aurora to get moving and eventually when Savanna had almost completely removed the crusted on embryonic fluid off of Aurora she then pushed Aurora over to the water and showed her how to drink. We couldn’t believe our eyes and were so amazed. So even though we had our time with Aurora to establish a bond with her she still kinda looks at Savanna as her Mum. That could have something to do with the behaviour..? 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

MGG

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Premium Feather Member
Feb 7, 2020
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Ok so I have two baby black swan cygnets that we incubated and hatched recently. The Cygnets (Savana and Aurora) are just over two weeks old and seem to be happy and healthy. One of our issues we are having though is that Aurora won’t stop biting Savana on her back. We have struggled to get her to stop it but she wont. And when I say she “wont stop” I mean she literally follows her sister around, nibbling on her back. To the point that Savana constantly has a patch on her back that is sopping wet from Auroras slobber. Savana doesn’t seem to take much notice of it and it doesn’t seem like aggressive behaviour but they are both getting bigger now and because Savana was the first to hatch and Aurora was the 3rd and needed a lot of assistance to hatch 48 hours later so Savana is just that little bit bigger than Aurora and she is getting abit anoyed with the constant biting so i want to try and correct the behaviour while they are young. We have tried making a cape for her out of an old stretchy shirt sleeve so it covered her back, which worked… but it kept slipping and we didn’t want to make it hard for her to walk so we stopped. Help? Suggestions? Resources? 😅

-one note to add though, when Aurora was born because she needed so much assistance to hatch and that it took 48hours, she was very weak and was very fragile for the first 72 hours after finally separating from her egg. She didn’t seem to be recovering in the incubator by herself, so in a final attempt to keep her alive we decided to move her too the brooder where Savana was in hopes it might conjure some strength to keep alive. And if it didn’t at least she wouldn’t of been alone when she passed. But (thank gosh!) it worked! When we layed her in the brooder she seemed more or less the same, but Savana came over and started preening her, she kept preening her and pushing Aurora to get moving and eventually when Savanna had almost completely removed the crusted on embryonic fluid off of Aurora she then pushed Aurora over to the water and showed her how to drink. We couldn’t believe our eyes and were so amazed. So even though we had our time with Aurora to establish a bond with her she still kinda looks at Savanna as her Mum. That could have something to do with the behaviour..? 🤷🏻‍♂️
I had this problem with a couple geese that I raised. Mine started doing it because the other gosling got some nutridrench stuck on his back, so the other one would constantly nibble it. Well, they started to outgrow the brooder and out of what I'm guessing was boredom the one started it up again. My poor guy got a red patch there on his back. What I did was just wrap him there. I had to change it every few days, but after about a week he stopped. I used vetwrap. Wrap around his body but under both wings. Go around twice. Then take a bit of duct tape (it will rip out some down unfortunately but otherwise the nibbler will tear off the wrap too) and stick a small strip half-on half-off the wrap, on his lower back. Do not go all the way around, just from one side to the other. Do this in front of the shoulder area too, just behind the neck. Again, just a small strip. And use a darker color of vetwrap so it doesn't attract as much attention. The other one will bite at the wrap but shouldn't be able to get it off.
In addition to this, try to set up a bigger brooder, with more enrichment if possible and maybe some outside time too. The more they're distracted the quicker he'll forget about biting his sibling's back.
Good luck, hopefully this helps! Post a pic of the wrap when you do it too.
 

Pheonix1996

In the Brooder
Oct 26, 2021
5
7
11
I had this problem with a couple geese that I raised. Mine started doing it because the other gosling got some nutridrench stuck on his back, so the other one would constantly nibble it. Well, they started to outgrow the brooder and out of what I'm guessing was boredom the one started it up again. My poor guy got a red patch there on his back. What I did was just wrap him there. I had to change it every few days, but after about a week he stopped. I used vetwrap. Wrap around his body but under both wings. Go around twice. Then take a bit of duct tape (it will rip out some down unfortunately but otherwise the nibbler will tear off the wrap too) and stick a small strip half-on half-off the wrap, on his lower back. Do not go all the way around, just from one side to the other. Do this in front of the shoulder area too, just behind the neck. Again, just a small strip. And use a darker color of vetwrap so it doesn't attract as much attention. The other one will bite at the wrap but shouldn't be able to get it off.
In addition to this, try to set up a bigger brooder, with more enrichment if possible and maybe some outside time too. The more they're distracted the quicker he'll forget about biting his sibling's back.
Good luck, hopefully this helps! Post a pic of the wrap when you do it too.
Thanks so much! We didn’t think the tape would be applicable because they are still so tiny haha but we might give it a go today after they go for a bath and playtime outside :)
 

MGG

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Premium Feather Member
Feb 7, 2020
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Thanks so much! We didn’t think the tape would be applicable because they are still so tiny haha but we might give it a go today after they go for a bath and playtime outside :)
No problem! Yeah! Definitely try it. You could try painter's tape or something similar first and see if the biter will leave it on. It would be better for the bird if he'll leave it on, however most won't.
Another option is that bitter spray that they make to stop dogs from chewing things. If you squirted some on his back, the other one might not like the taste of it and stop chewing. But I have not personally researched those to see if they're safe for birds.
 

ColtHandorf

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Feb 19, 2019
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But I have not personally researched those to see if they're safe for birds.
They are. Some vets will advise using these to stop hookbills from plucking or chewing their own feathers in extreme cases. However, birds and mammals do taste things differently, and as I'm not a bird, I've no idea how effective it really is.
 

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