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What to Know When Raising an African Grey Parrot

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What to Know When Raising an African Grey Parrot

African Grey's are one of the world's most popular species of pet parrots. These medium-sized birds possess a superior level intelligence combined with a fun-loving, affectionate and downright playful personality. Whether this is your first time owning a parrot or not, you're sure to appreciate the companionship and loyalty of an African Grey.

Like all parrots, however, they have some unique traits that owners need to be aware of. This week, we're going to discuss some facts and tips on how to raise a happy, healthy African Grey.

1. African Grey parrots have very long lifespans.

Like a few other parrot species, the African Grey parrots have a very long lifespan. In fact, these marvelous birds can live up to eighty years in captivity! Thus, adopting an African Grey parrot is literally a lifelong commitment, which many people tend to forget upon their initial decision of keeping one of these beautiful parrots in their homes.

The average lifespan of the African Grey is approximately 35-45 years; however, there are reports of African Greys living well beyond this age. The Guinness Book of World Records reports the longest living pet African Grey was 72 years, which is obviously a great deal older than the species' typical lifespan.

Furthermore, African Grey parrots are extremely emotionally sensitive to live in more than one home throughout their lifetime. They become very attached to their owners and forcing them to have multiple owners throughout their lifetime can become very harmful to their health and often causes them to become depressed and socially awkward. You can help prevent this by educating people looking to adopt one of these magnificent birds and letting them know that having an African Grey parrot is a serious commitment, and not something to be taken lightly.

As an owner, one of your goals should be to prove your African Grey with a suitable home where he or she can live a long and healthy life.

2. It isn’t easy to keep an African Grey occupied.

If you’ve ever had, or currently have, a toddler or young child, you know it isn’t easy to keep them occupied for very long with a simple toy. Similarly, the African Grey parrot can become very hard to occupy with a simple toy or two, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. This is because the African Grey parrot is renowned to have the intelligence level of a young child (two to three years old, when it is fully grown); so, if keeping a young child occupied isn’t easy, why should keeping a parrot with the same intelligence level be?

However, there are ways to keep the African Grey occupied and happy. First and foremost, you want to socialize with it very frequently. It doesn’t have to be a full conversion; a simple “hello” or “how are you?” as you’re walking by will suffice. You also want to buy it an abundance of toys, as this will not only keep it happy but it one of the easy ways to keep your budgie entertained.

3. African Greys can become hard to care for.

Due to their high levels of intelligence, African Greys form very close bonds with their owners and can become very demanding of their owner’s time. This isn’t to scare you from adopting this glorious bird but instead, to remind you that African Greys require a ton of love and attention. They need to be handled and socialized with on a daily basis, and let out of their cages for at least two to three hours a day to strengthen their muscles.

4. African Greys require attention regarding their nutrition.

It should come as no surprise that nutrition plays a key role in the health of an African Grey. Far too many first-time parrot owners purchase the cheap bags of bird food from their local pet store, assuming it meets their parrot's nutritional needs. While it may offer some nutrition, it's almost certain to lack key vitamins and compounds that are required for healthy growth and development.

Now for the question that's likely on your mind: should I feed my African Grey pellets or seed mix? This is a long-running debate that parrot owners continue to argue over. However, most bird experts will agree that a diet consisting of both pellet and seed is the best solution in terms of nutrition.

Note: you can learn more about the link between vitamin A deficiency and seed-based diets in our previous blog post.

Cage Setup

  • Due to their size, African Greys require somewhat large cages that offer plenty of room for them to move around.
  • Place several different toys inside their cage to keep them occupied when no one is home (yes, African Greys get lonely).
  • Try to get into the habit of cleaning their cage on a regular basis (no parrot wants to live in a dirty cage).
  • Keep their cage away from the kitchen, as certain fumes are toxic to parrots.

Now we all know that African Grey parrots can make extremely loving and intelligent pets. These beautiful birds are capable of learning up to 1000 words, and sometimes have been accounted to know even more, and being able to use them in context! However, their intelligence and ability to recall and use words properly aren’t the only traits that make this beautiful species so special. In a previous article, we also discussed how to transition your parrot into a new home or new cage.

Though the African Grey parrots, like many other parrot species, require a lot of attention, they can become extremely loyal lifetime companions that will bring love and joy within any household!

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