Parrots as Pets - African Grey Parrot
Pedro - An African Grey Parrot
About African Grey Parrots
African Grey Parrots are medium sized at 10 to 14 inches in length. This makes them terrific as a house pet. Their cages are large enough to be decorative as well as a living area for a fun friend.
Male parrots are usually larger than females, but the difference is really minimal in African Greys. Females tend to have a smaller head and more narrow neck.
African Grey parrots love to talk and play. They have an amazing mimicry that will sound just like you if you talk to it a lot. They will also develop speech patterns of the other members in the home and may imitate other pets as well.
All parrot pets love to interact with the family. They especially love to have their head stroked. They do not like to have their body handled very much though. Parrots can get bored easily and harm themselves, so it is best to have someone play with them on a daily basis. At the very least, let them watch TV when you are gone.
The scientific name for the African Grey Parrot is Psittacus erithacus, and they originated in the rainforests of West and Central Africa. These parrots are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds in the world. They are gentle in nature and make lovely pets.
Where African Greys Originated
Photos of African Grey ParrotClick thumbnail to view full-size
Parrots as Pets
According to Information on Parrots as Pets for Beginners, much research is needed to find just the right parrot pet for your home. This is a huge decision as parrots have quite a long life span and some species can easily outlive you.
- Do your homework! There are many kinds of parrots, and some make much better pets than others.
- Start small. Try parakeets or love birds first. Larger birds are much harder to care for.
- Parrots require proper care, lots of attention and lots of love.
- Parrots require a serious commitment.
- Make sure you have enough space in your home for the type of parrot you want. Some parrots require a great deal of space.
- Parrots do not make good pets for small children.
- Parrots can be very messy.
- They can be very loud.
- Some parrots do not play well with other pets.
- African Grey parrots are particularly easy to teach.
Pros and Cons of Parrots as Pets
Parrots are great companions
They can outlive their owners
They eat common foods
They can eat a lot of food
Small parrots are very self sufficient in pairs
Medium to Large parrots can become bored and harm themselves
Most parrots make great pets
Some parrots are not very good as pets
Parrots have few illnesses
Vet bills can be high in some cases
Parrots love to "kiss"
Birds can become infected with human germs when they kiss you
Birds are whistlers, singers and talkers
They can be quite loud at times
Parrots need a fair amount of interaction and they love to play
Birds are not good pets if you are gone from home a lot
Birds are fairly easy to train
Medium and large parrots play vigorously and may bite
Large Parrot Cage
The size of the parrot cage should match the size of the bird. There are small, medium and large parrot cages available and the bird owner must make sure that the cage is optimum for their particular type of birds.
For African Grey Parrots, a typical parrot cage set up includes:
- A permanent and reasonable amount of space in a low traffic area of the house away from doors that are frequently opened and closed. Parrots need a secure area with as few surprises as possible. They have no flock to defend them and their stress levels will rise if they are frequently startled.
- A draft free area as birds do not like cold
- African Greys need more room horizontally than vertically, so a horizontal cage is preferable. It should be 36-48 inches wide and at least 30 to 36 inches in depth. The height needs to be at least 30 inches.
- Parrots need to be "part of the flock", so a special parrot room is a no-no. They need to be able to see and interact with the family, but not strangers that can scare them. Living rooms, (away from windows) are usually the best area.
- Ideally, the parrot's cage should be near the family room, living room and/or kitchen, or closest to the primary care giver's favorite room.
- There should be a perch on the inside that allows the African Grey to hang upside down and play with toys.
- There should be at least one horizontal perch for the parrot's general use.
- There should be as many toys as your particular bird prefers. Trial and error is the only way to determine what type of toys your bird likes.
- The floor of the cage should be flat (not grates), and should be lined with white paper. The white paper will allow you to visually check your birds droppings to check for illness.
- Some perches may be placed somewhat at an angle to encourage climbing.
- Some African Greys like to hang out on their cage doors when they are left open, so remember to add something under the entire cage to catch the mess.
- Perches - 1/4 to 4 inch diameter - should be made of metal, wood, rope, acrylic, stainless-steel chain, coconut, high-impact plastic and bird-safe rubber.
African Grey Parrot Food
There are commercially available parrot food pellets and these are good for your bird. Be sure to pick the organic kind with no fillers or artificial ingredients. Limit seeds as food because they are high in fat. Birds naturally love seeds and should eat some of them, but not as a steady diet.
Water is important, but do not give them distilled water. Give them bottled spring water or tap water. A good way to remove chlorine from tap water is to let a bowl sit out overnight and then use it to refill the bird's drinking dish.
Good foods for African Grey parrots:
- sweet potato chunks
- collard greens
- green or red peppers
- green beans
- snow peas
- butter lettuce
- melon balls
Toxic foods for parrots!
Never feed these foods to African Greys (or other parrots):
- tomato leaves (nightshade plants) (tomatoes themselves are ok for parrots to eat)
- coffee or caffeinated beverages
- dried beans
- fruit pits of any kind
- junk food - high fat, high sugar, salty or fried foods
- any kind of processed foods, unless it is specific food made for parrots
Parrot Emergency Kit
One other essential item for parrot ownership is the emergency kit. Birds are normally healthy, but when they get sick or injured, they can quickly die. A responsible bird owner must be alert to any changes in a bird's personality or condition.
Cornstarch can quickly stop bleeding due to a torn talon or injured feather. Styptic pens can sting or burn, just use plain cornstarch for best results.
Pedialyte can replace needed electrolytes (sodium and potassium) in a dehydrated bird. Check with a vet for recommendations.
Tweezers can be use to remove a 'blood feather' or a feather that has broken and left a bruise.
Scissors and sterile gauze are used for minor injuries.
You may need a clean towel handy to wrap and immobilize your parrot.
Sterile saline can be used to flush out foreign objects in a bird's eyes.
Betadine and swabs are used to disinfect cuts or other injuries.
A heating pad may be needed to keep a bird warm (not hot). Tropical birds do not fare well in cold climates. Keeping a bird warm may save its life.
A small bird carrier will be needed if your parrots need to be rushed to an animal emergency clinic or veterinarian hospital.
Your pet's medical records and the names and numbers of nearby emergency centers and vets should be kept near the cage at all times.
Don't procrastinate, set up an emergency kit right away. You never know when something may happen that requires swift action.
Are you considering having a parrot as a pet?
What kind of parrot would fit best in your home?
Questions & Answers
How do I stop an African Grey from chewing on walls and carpet when I have blocked most of these areas?
Have you provided plenty of chew toys of his own? Parrots chew out of frustration. Make sure your parrot participates fully in family life. They do not like to be alone. They are highly social and get bored easily. Boredom will cause them to chew everything.
© 2013 Lela