African grey parrot care guide. African grey, also referred to as the Einstein of the parrot world,” are the cleverest parrots. They require lots of care to avoid boredom, but they make loyal, friendly, communicative, and affectionate pets. Like other large species of parrots, African greys are considered high-maintenance pets. While “greys” are entertaining and rewarding to keep, they prefer a routine schedule and require a substantial amount of time with their owners. Therefore, African grey parrots may not be appropriate for those who work odd hours, travel frequently, or spend many hours away from home.
These intelligent birds require a cage that must be a minimum of 36 x 24 x 48 inches, with at least three perches and a newspaper lining. They need a diet of 70% pellets, consisting of fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and grains. African greys need 1 hour of enrichment and 2-3 hours of exercise and out-of-cage time per day.
The African grey parrot is one of the most talented talking/ mimicking birds on the planet, giving it quite a reputation among bird enthusiasts. Not only do bird keepers love this intelligent bird, but it’s also one of the most recognizable species to bird novices.
African grey parrot care sheet
The African grey is a medium- to large-sized parrot that needs adequate living space. Minimum cage size should have a 2-foot by 2-foot footprint and 3 feet height. Larger cages are preferable. Without plenty of interaction and training, an African grey parrot may become depressed and exhibit self-mutilating behaviours, such as feather-plucking.
These birds thrive when they have lots of opportunities to play with toys, interact with their owners, and learn words and tricks. Expect to spend several hours interacting with and training your African grey each day. Many owners report that African greys enjoy having television or radio playing when left alone.
African greys are somewhat sensitive and easily affected by stress and commotion. They may be more relaxed if the cage is placed in a quiet corner of the room rather than in the centre.
- Personality and temperament
Most bird keepers believe that only an experienced bird enthusiast should keep a grey. They are complex parrots, highly sensitive, and more than a little demanding. They are also charming and brilliant, but this match of sensitivity and brains can lead to behavioural issues. They are creatures of habit, and even a tiny change in routine can make a sensitive grey unhappy. They are prone to plucking and chewing their feathers, among other bad habits. Plus, they have a more complex attitude and maybe better for households with a lot of people coming and going.
African greys are social parrots that need a lot of hands-on time. However, they aren’t “cuddle bugs.” They will tolerate some head-scratching and a little bit of petting, but they do not appreciate intense physical contact, though some individuals don’t mind a little snuggling. Every bird has individual tastes and preferences. A grey can also become a “one-person bird,” even if every household member socializes with it from the beginning.
- Sound and speech
Much of the grey’s appeal comes from its talking ability. It is among the best talkers in the parrot family, able to repeat words and phrases after hearing them just once or twice. This bird reaches full talking ability around a year, and most individuals become capable mimics much earlier. Not only will a grey develop an outstanding vocabulary, but research has also shown that this species can come to understand what it is saying. Nonetheless, just because greys are clever and may choose to talk rather than scream, it’s a mistake to believe that they aren’t noisy. They aren’t as loud or persistent as some of the South American species, but they will learn household sounds and use them tirelessly to the dismay of guardians. Imagine the microwave beeping perpetually or a cellphone ringing madly without the luxury of turning it off.
It gets irritating, right?
- Diet and nutrition
African greys eat fruits, leaves, insects, bark, and flowers in the wild. In captivity, the best food for an African grey is a high-quality, formulated pellet supplemented with fruits such as pomegranate, organic mango, and melon. Also, provide fresh vegetables, including leafy greens like arugula, watercress, kale, sprouts, and healthy seeds such as hemp and flaxseed. You can premake chop, a salad for birds that will help keep your African grey parrot healthy and thriving.
Many greys also enjoy a variety of treats and snacks, such as nuts and healthy table foods like steamed green beans, breakfast toast, and salad. You can offer your bird a half cup of pellet-based parrot mix and a 1/4 cup of fruits and vegetables daily and adjust the quantity according to their appetite. Remove and discard all uneaten fresh food by the end of each day. Adding vitamin supplements can also help.
- Note: A grey that consumes a pelleted diet generally does not need vitamin supplements added to its food.
- Exercise routine
Adequate amounts of activity are crucial to maintaining the health of an African grey parrot. Pet greys should be allowed to spend at least 1 to 2 hours out of their cages daily with vigorous exercise and make sure to provide them with plenty of bird-safe chew toys to help exercise their powerful beaks.
- Social, friendly, although they do not like being cuddled.
- Intelligent, can speak and understand hundreds of words and phrases.
- Requires a lot of attention and mental stimulation
- Tend to be one-person birds, not the greatest family pet
- Health Concerns
This Gray bird can be prone to feather picking, calcium deficiency, vitamin-A, vitamin-D deficiency, respiratory infection, psittacosis, psittacine beak, and feather disease.
Vitamin deficiencies can be prevented by making sure your bird eats a wide selection of fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene, such as cooked sweet potato and fresh kale.
Feather-picking is usually the sign of a bored bird that is not receiving enough mental stimulation, attention, or exercise.
- Gray bird sleep requirements
African greys need between 12-14 hours of sleep. Not all parrots sleep through the night, but they’ll wake up every now and then to see what’s going on.
At night, cover your parrot’s cage with a sheet. This will give them peace, quiet, and complete darkness. Parrots are light sleepers, so make sure you turn off all TVs and electrical devices so that they’re not disturbed.
- Beak care for gray birds
African greys have continuously growing beaks that need regular filing to keep them healthy. If they can’t do this, they’re at risk of overgrowth. Their beaks may become sharp, long, and brittle. They may even curve inward. African grey parrots can keep their beaks filed down with:
- Wooden perches
- Wooden toys
- Cleaning and bathing
African grey parrots don’t need to bathe. Instead, they splash around in their water bowl and groom and preen their feathers.
That being said, helping your parrot bathe is a good bonding exercise. Splash your parrot to encourage it to take a bath, or mist it with a spray bottle. Only use lukewarm water for bathing your bird.
- Temperature requirements
The ideal temperature for African grey parrots is 70-80°F. However, they’re also don’t mind resting at normal room temperatures.
- Cage and enclosure requirements
Your African grey pet is an active bird, so he needs a playpen top with a tray. Add toys and climbing frames to prevent boredom. Other things to consider while getting an enclosure are:
- Cage material
Powder-coated cages made from non-corrosive metals, such as steel, brass, or chrome fare best against their strong beaks.
- Cage quality.
Choose a cage that has thick bars that African greys can’t bend.
Your cage should allow for perches of various shapes and sizes.
Opt for stainless steel or ceramic bowl, as they last longer than aluminium dishes.
- Trays and gates.
Make sure they’re removable so that they’re easy to clean and sanitize.
Bar spacing is another essential consideration. Horizontal bars are recommended for African greys, as they allow them to climb up and down the sides, which they love doing.
- Cage lining
African greys, like all parrots, are messy birds. They poop a lot, sometimes defecating outside of their cage. They also entertain themselves by tearing up newspaper or wood pieces and dropping their food.
Newspaper is the safest material for lining your parrot’s cage, and it’s easy to remove and replace. Most African grey parrots sleep on perches, so newspaper is only required to keep the bottom of the cage clean.
- Cage perches
Position three perches in the cage:
Place one perch high so that your parrot can scale up to it and sleep on it.
Place one perch in the middle, away from food and water.
Place one perch at the bottom so that it has easy access to food and water.
Plastic perches with rough or sharp edges will cut your parrot’s feet, risking bumblefoot. Similarly, perches covered with an abrasive surface will remove the surface layer of the skin. Wooden perches are the safest kind.
Preventive care for an African Grey pet
- A physical examination should be performed every 6 to 12 months
- Consult a veterinarian with experience in avian medicine if you have any questions or concerns about your bird’s health
- An annual fecal examination should be performed to check for parasites, yeast, and bacteria
- Vaccination against polyomavirus should be performed as directed by your veterinarian
- Routine blood testing may be required.
- Perform wing and nail trimming as needed.
African Grey parrot care guide_ Relevant Questions
Is my African grey pet prone to behavioural problems?
Without training or the right living conditions, African greys are prone to behavioural problems, including:
African grey parrots aren’t naturally aggressive but can become so if they’re scared or hurt. They’re easily agitated by other pets and may vocalize and display stress symptoms when they get too close.
Unfortunately, jealousy is one of their most problematic traits. They become very attached to their owners, resulting in jealousy toward other animals and people.
Jealousy is hard to train out of parrots, but you can reduce it by teaching them not to nip or vocalize at people. Ignoring bad behaviour is another effective technique.
African greys are prone to stress if they lack socialization or mental stimulation. They start screaming or displaying unwanted behaviours when they don’t get it. Signs of stress in African grey parrots include:
- Stress bars (black horizontal lines across the feathers)
- Feather discoloration
- Poor feather quality
Think about how you can improve the situation. For example, move the cage to a quieter location or provide more toys and perches. Also, play and interact with your parrot more frequently to give it some entertainment. African greys are highly sociable and enjoy spending quality time with their owners, and the same goes for baby African grey parrots.
How long do African grey parrots live?
Typically, African grey parrots can live up to 70 years in the wild, especially if they manage to avoid hazards and predators. However, their average lifespan tends to fall anywhere from 40 to 60 years.
In captivity (as pets), anywhere from 20 years is average, though some will live up to 40 years if provided with proper nutrition, care, and environment.
What is the average African grey parrot price?
The price of an African grey parrot ranges from $1,500 to $3,500. Congo African greys are more affordable than Timneh parrots because they’re much easier to source in the pet industry. However, the other costs (food, large cage, toys, perches, dishes, and vet bills/insurance) can be up to $3,200 a year.
African grey parrot care: Wrapping Up
While African greys are one of the most intelligent and friendly birds, it’s your responsibility to take care of them for life. They have long lifespans, so you’ll be paying out for their care for the majority of your life. Choose wisely, and you will end up with a lifelong, loving companion!