When you purchase/acquire your African Grey Parrot make sure the bird has smooth healthy feathers and bright shiny eyes. Check his or her vent area to make sure it is not soiled. Check the bottom of the cage for droppings, making sure they are well formed. It is a good idea to have an avian veterinarian to check the bird and run laboratory tests to ensure the bird is healthy. These tests should include a complete blood count, (CBC) Chlamydia Screen and a culture of the throat and vent. Make sure a signed veterinarian certificate accompanies the bird.
Be certain to quarantine any parrot you bring home, for a time period of at least eight weeks, keeping them separate from other birds in your home. This is true of any exotic pet or exotic pets.
Before you purchase an African Grey be sure to ask yourself why you are purchasing one. Are you purchasing him simply because of their excellent capabilities to talk? Some Grey Parrots will never talk. This doesnít happen often but please donít purchase just for this reason. Purchase because they are wonderful companion pets that are intelligent. You will want to spend large amounts of quality time with them. They are highly social and sensitive. Most African Grey parrots donít learn to talk until theyíre around twelve to eighteen months old; and may even take as long as two years.
You must learn to love parrots unconditionally. You can never punish a parrot. You must let a bird be a bird. Your relationship with your African Grey will be built on love and trust. You can establish boundaries but be sure to remain consistent with these boundaries. Establishment of these rules is effective, and a way to prevent potential problems.
Cages and Accessories
Some bird cages are a danger to your parrot one example, the bars may be improperly spaced. You will find screws and other tiny parts the African Grey will work loose, the parrot may attempt to ingest the small part and choke. Parrots will chew constantly. They will chew at the bars. The paint must be non-toxic. Parrots are notorious for opening birdcage latches. The latch must be of a good design and secure.
Keeping the bird cage clean and sanitized is a very important issue. Many disinfectants are horrific to birds and that is why I highly suggest using a Chlorhexidine Solution. This solution is especially effective against the resistant germs that are running rampant today. It is even effective against the swine flu. Some cages are impossible to keep clean and even harder, to sanitize. Keep this in mind when purchasing a cage. Are there out of the way areas that get crammed with gunk impossible to clean?
The cage must be the proper size for the African Grey. Rectangular and square cages are much better than a round cage. Bird cages need to be secure and big, the bigger the cage the better. When I am around to supervise my African Grey I keep him out of his cage and on a playpen. Parrots enjoy their freedom.
Because of the African Greyís advanced intelligence the need for play, exercise and mental stimulation is even greater. Provide a good variety of toys and rotate them often. Your African Grey needs your love and attention. Spending a great deal of quality time with your parrot will prevent many behavioral problems. African Greys get bored!
Provide several perches with different diameters for optimal foot health. I like hardwood perches; they withstand the abuse of a parrotís beak!
Health and Nutrition
The African Grey needs a varied, healthy diet. He will need a balanced diet of seeds, sprouted seeds, nuts, vegetables, protein, and fruits. After the parrot eats his fresh foods, make sure to remove the leftover food from his cage, because they will spoil and make the parrot ill. Always provide the African Grey with plenty of fresh water. It is a good idea to buy a quality water filter and filter the water the parrot uses. The healthier the diet the stronger your parrotís immune system. Donít feed your parrot chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, or avocado.
You should provide your parrot with a birdbath or spritz him with a spray bottle; and wet him or her entirely. This encourages him to preen; keeping his feathers healthy.
The toenails need to be clipped and the flight feathers may need trimmed to prevent your parrot from getting injured or escaping. The beak should be trimmed when needed. Check with an avian veterinarian before attempting these procedures the first time. Watch and learn!
The African Grey should have a checkup from an avian veterinarian once a year. He should also see a vet if he is ill. Parrots are notorious for hiding illnesses. They must hide their illness in the wild otherwise they will appear weak and become prey for other animals. Be prepared for the cost of taking your bird to an avian veterinarian!
There are many dangers in your home from which you will need to protect your exotic pet. To name a few of these hazards: fumes, chemical sprays, boiling pots of water, the coating on your pots and pans, poisonous plants, and open toilets. Parrots are the same as growing children; they are curious, excited to learn, and must investigate.
Always supervise your African Grey around other animals and children. Your parrot may play just great with your dog but you just never know what could trigger them injuring each other.
Keeping your African Grey Busy and Happy
I canít stress enough the need for this intelligent parrotís need for attention, mental stimulation, and play. Always provide your African Grey with plenty of toys. Spend plenty of time everyday interacting with your bird. You can play with your bird in so many different ways. Just like a toddler they will drop their toys off the top of their playpen. This is saying I want you to play with me! Please interact with me. After all, parrots are highly social birds in the wild. In captivity you are their flock or their family!
African Greys are highly vocal in the wild. This is the parrotís nature. If you want a parrot in your home you must accept this. They screech, squawk, sing, whistle, and make noise! You must let a parrot be a parrot! They will greet each morning with a variety of noises. They will say goodbye to the light with ear piercing noise. They will get excited periodically throughout the day and go into a song and dance routine.
But, if they continually screech and squawk something is amiss! They are bored and need more attention and varying activities. You will find that they enjoy soft music. Remember that parrots hear a whole lot better than we do so keep down the bass and volume. Parrots need to chew; this too is part of their nature. Provide safe branches for your parrot to chew on. Provide toys that are made out of safe, non-toxic wood and lava rocks to chew on.
If you treat your African Grey with plenty of love and attention you will have a wonderful companion and friend for decades to come! Above all else, enjoy your African Grey!
Introduction and more information on the African Grey parrot; both the Congo African Grey (CAG) and the Timneh African Grey (TAG). In addition to some great African Grey pictures including hand-fed babies! African Grey Parrots - Inroduction
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African Grey Parrot Handbook (Barron's Pet Handbooks)