Popular Pet Birds – African Grey Parrot

Popular Pet Birds – African Grey Parrot

Choosing a Pet Bird: A little bit about African Grey Parrots

Birds can make wonderful pets, but there are many different types of birds, so how do you choose the one that is right for your family? Like any pet, birds will require lots of love and care to help keep them healthy and well, so in this blog we are taking a look at African Grey Parrots, and what you can expect if you were to have a one as a pet.

The African grey parrot is one of the most charming parrots. This parrot has a wonderful character; a combination of intelligence and charm and have been kept as pets for over 4000 years.

African Grey parrots are very strong and they can bite with their strong pointed beak and scratch with their claws. They have a high intelligence and they are generally thought to be the best mimics of all parrots. Pet owners often refer to their relationship with their hand reared pet African Grey’s as “like having a five-year-old child”.

These parrots, like any pet bird, can require a large commitment as they require a lot of attention. African Greys particularly Congo African Greys are known to be shy among strangers; but have the tendency to bond to only one person if they do not interact with different people regularly.

There are officially two subspecies of the African Grey Parrot:

Types of African Grey Parrot

There are offically two subspecies of the African Grey Parrot:

Congo African Grey

The Congo’s are highly susceptible to developing bad behaviours and it’s very important you stop these when they start. Some of the common problems you might run into are: feather plucking, biting and screaming.

Timneh African Grey

The lesser common of the African Grey Parrot sub-species the Timneh, is often considered the more nervous of the two. Therefore. they typically require a considerable amount of attention and can develop some behaviour issues if that attention is not provided. However, the Timneh are excellent talkers most of the time and quick to learn.

How Long Do African Grey Parrots Live?

The average lifespan is 20-25 years, so it is a long-term commitment to become the human companion to an African Grey.

Where African Grey Parrots Like to Live

When it comes to their home or cage, for parrots the more space they have the better. A selection of perches and bars should be attached to the cage to allow the parrot to climb from side to side and up and down.

We recommend you place your parrots cage in a part of the house where the bird will have lots of contact with people, but not in the most hectic area of the home. Keep the cage away from windows where they would receive direct sunlight, away from draughts and not too close to radiators.

Exercise & Play

Exercise is key for an African Grey and they need a minimum of three hours ‘out of cage’ time and at least 45 minutes of physical interaction daily. This is a minimum of time required for the parrots good mental health.

Chew toys are also important for your Grey. We recommend you play some games with your African Grey to keep them feeling loved and stimulated.

The Hide and Seek Game

Playing hide and seek with an African Grey is entertaining and can be initiated whenever the parrot shows an interest in interacting with you. Step out of sight into another room and listen for the bird to whistle to you. If your African Grey does not immediately send out a whistle, which would be unlikely, you can initiate the game by using what most Greys are very familiar with, the high-pitched wolf whistle. After the first whistle, your African Grey should be paying attention and beginning to understand the intentions of the game.

African Grey Parrots need to be played with, and they love to interact with his or her owner. Fun games the African Grey enjoys like hide and seek or any other game you can play with them like this will keep your bird healthy and happy to ensure they live a long life.

Diet & Nutrition

African Grey parrots need a varied diet that includes as many fresh foods as possible. Feed your African Grey a variety of chopped leafy green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, which will help supply them with calcium.  They will also enjoy carrots, corn on the cob and chili peppers.  Include fruit such as apples, grapes, bananas and oranges. African Grey’s will also need additional protein so add small portions of cooked meat, cooked rice and bean mixture, and boiled eggs to their daily diet.  You can mix a few crushed eggs shells into the rice and beans or boiled eggs for another boost of calcium. Also, include a variety of fresh nuts to your African Grey’s diet.

Any fresh foods that they do not eat should be discarded after 24 hours. Offer your African Grey two meals each day, being sure to leave plenty for him to nibble on between meals.

As with all birds, never feed your African Grey Parrot avocados, chocolate, coffee or salt. Chocolate and coffee contain theobromine, an alkaloid that is toxic to birds. Avocado is also toxic to birds.

Foods with a high salt content are harmful to birds because they cannot excrete salt.

Offer your parrot fresh water several times a day.

Health & Hygiene

African Grey parrots get due sick due to poor nutrition or stress. Poor nutrition comes from the amount of food you feed it or the type of food. Stress can come from feeling unloved or not part of the ‘clan’ or ‘flock’; that is why attention, playing games and exercise are essential for the parrots happiness.

Birds, usually hide their health problems, this is a self-defence ability birds use to keep their predators from attacking them. It is part of their survival instinct, because of this it could be a couple of weeks before you will even knows that your bird is sick.

Signs that Your African Grey is Unwell:

  • A reduced appetite
  • A discharge from its nose or eyes
  • Swelling around its eyes and sneezing
  • Trouble eating
  • Weight loss and poor balance
  • Limping or swollen feet or joints
  • Bleeding anywhere

Your pet African Grey may be shaking or shivering, you should not be too concerned, as they tend to do both quite often. Greys do tend to be a bit on the nervous side if not socialized well, so it doesn’t mean that they are cold or scared, it’s perfectly natural for them to do this.


Birds are very good at cleaning themselves they do this by preening and arranging their feathers. However there are some things you can do to help keep your parrot clean and fresh. You can wash its feet with warm water, this keeps their feet soft and clean. During summer, sprinkle water or mop them with a towel dipped in water, if they get very warm.

Make sure you wash their bill after every meal to protect against infection around the mount. Always provide your African Grey with clean water and clean their food bowl everyday.

Their cage should be cleaned and washed weekly as a dirty cage can cause infection for the parrot.

Identifying a vet that is experienced with caring for African Grey Parrots is important, and you may need to travel to a specialist.

Take Me Home Checklist

When to take your African Grey Parrot home, you will need make sure you have some things to in order to help keep it healthy and happy. We’ve put together a simple ‘Take Me Home’ checklist for new Parrot keepers.

If you have any questions, or need any further advice, please drop in to your local Petmania and talk to our Petcare Advisors.

  • Extra large cage with a top opening (as big as possible-most cages will come with food and water bowls)
  • Good quality Parrot food
  • Plenty of toys made from wood. Greys are destructive and need toys to keep them occupied and their beaks trim. Toys will need to be changed often and moved around the cage to provide entertainment for the bird.
  • Suitable substrate like sand or sand sheets
  • Mister bottle, this helps to reduce dust in their plumage
  • A book on African Greys- should probably be purchased beforehand as this bird is a lot of work and high maintenance.
  • Heavy duty gloves, these are optional for training
  • Greys should get a variety of fresh fruit and veg and also some egg once in a while. It is not enough to just give them seeds as they need a balanced diet.

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