Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Grey Parrot

The African grey parrot is one of the most popular pet birds, and for good reason. Greys are known for their extreme intelligence, ability to mimic human speech, and long lifespan of 40-60 years when properly cared for. However, while greys make wonderful companions, they also require an experienced and dedicated owner. Here are the key factors to consider before bringing one of these amazing birds home.

Housing
Greys need a very large cage, preferably with horizontal bars they can climb. The cage should be big enough for them to fully extend their wingspan without touching the sides. Many owners let their greys out of the cage for supervised time flying around the home each day, so make sure they have a safe room for exercise. Stainless steel cages with metal grates to catch falling debris tend to work best. Be sure to place the cage in a social area where the family spends time, since greys crave interaction.

Diet
In the wild, greys eat nuts, seeds, fruits, berries and sometimes insects. A nutritionally complete pelleted diet should form the base of your pet grey’s meals. Supplement with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies like apples, oranges, broccoli and sweet potatoes. Avoid chocolate, onion or avocado, which can be toxic. You’ll need sturdy food bowls that attach to the cage so your clever bird doesn’t tip them over! Provide constant access to fresh drinking water.

Grooming
Those powder down feathers can be messy! Greys require weekly grooming with a spray bottle, towel and specialized brush to keep their coat healthy. Trim nails as needed, being extremely careful not to hit the blood vessel inside (best done by an avian vet or groomer). You’ll also need to provide a cuttlebone and mineral block for them to sharped their beaks on.

Stimulation
Your energetic grey will need lots of puzzle toys and foraging activities to stay engaged. Rotate new toys into their cage frequently so they don’t get bored. Plan activities to allow them to climb, shred paper and use their beak. Getting them a parrot play stand gives them a fun place to hang out outside the cage. Teach them tricks like waving, turning in a circle or going from hand to hand. Just make sure everyone in the home spends quality time interacting with your grey daily.

Patience
While exceedingly smart, greys can be stubborn. Potty training takes time and consistency. Speech training requires daily repetition. Bonding with your grey means earning their trust through patient, gentle and rewarding interactions. Move slowly and allow them to come to you while training. Yelling or scolding will cause them to shut down. You’ll need to laugh off their antics when they’re being naughty and outsmarting you! Parenting a grey is a labor of love.

Vet Care
You need an avian vet, along with annual checkups and proper nutrition to keep your grey healthy. Illness can escalate rapidly in birds, so call your vet promptly if you notice puffed feathers, weight loss, respiratory distress, discharge, blood in the droppings or other issues. Your vet can help trim nails and test for deadly diseases like psittacosis. Budgeting $200 or more yearly for medical care is essential. Exotic pet insurance can offset surprise vet bills too.

Noisy Nature
While their talking ability is endearing, a grey’s loud squawking can irritate neighbors and family members. Greys vocalizations are just part of their nature, but you can redirect them gently by avoiding reacting to undesirable screams. Provide quiet playtime when everyone is sleeping to discourage early morning disruptions. And warn your surrounding community that a sometimes noisy parrot has joined the area!

Expenses
Given their extremely long life span, purchasing a grey is a major commitment. The bird itself often costs $1,000 to $2,000 from a breeder. Then you need several hundred dollars for the large cage, sturdy play stand, variety of toys to rotate, organic pellets and produce for fresh food prep, grooming supplies, travel carrier, bird diapers if desired and more. Plus budget for ongoing avian vet expenses. Not to mention replacing items your clever bird will inevitably shred, chew or destroy!

Attention Needs
Greys crave being the center of your universe! Is your family prepared to dote on this majestic bird daily? Greys can become stressed or aggressive if neglected. Since they bond closely with their owners, you’ll need to spend quality time interacting with your pet bird each day. Whether it’s chatting, snuggling, playing games or teaching new skills, most greys revel in the one-on-one attention from their special human flock members. If no one has time to focus on your grey, it likely isn’t the right pet for your busy household.

Destructive Behaviours
Greys need continuous supervision when outside their cage, as their strong beaks can destroy furniture, baseboards, screens, curtains and more in minutes. Many also go through bluffing stages where they challenge owners for dominance through lunging, biting or aggressive body language. While not usually maliciously intended, those beaks can still bite hard enough to break skin. Consistency training them with rewards and timeouts is key to curbing hormonal impulses causing bad behavior. Protect your possessions and teach appropriate outlets for chewing!

Travel Limitations
While your grey will quickly bond deeply with you, their clingy nature makes travel difficult. Greys often refuse to allow anyone else to care for them. That exotic pet sitter you lined up for your vacation? No chance when your bird screeches incessantly and refuses food or companionship with outsiders! Few boarding facilities have staff equipped to handle an anxious grey either. Leaving your feathered BFF home alone while you journey to far-flung places may be your only option. Just be sure to prepare plenty of puzzle toys, spend time before/after trips reassuring your bird and maybe install home cameras to check in.

Lifelong Commitment
When adopting any pet that may outlive you, it’s crucial to plan for their continued care after you’re gone. Perhaps you intend your grey to go to an enthusiastic family member or friend who’s equally dedicated. Or reach out to an exotic bird rescue organization that can match your aged pet with a new compatible owner. Setting up a trust fund to cover costs for foods, housing and medical care can give extra assurance your grey will be well provided for later in life too.

Owning an grey parrot is an incredibly rewarding but also intensely demanding endeavor. From the sizable financial investment to their extreme social needs, ensure your family is fully prepared before making a commitment that could last over half a century! But for the right owner willing to prioritize consistent training, enrichment and veterinary care, sharing life with one of these spectacular birds is a profoundly fulfilling privilege. If you’re ready to rise to the occasion and embrace all the joys and challenges, then opening your home to an African grey just might change your life in the best possible ways

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