African grey parrots are popular as pets because they can be taught to talk. They even mimic words and sounds that they hear often - human laughter, or a cough, for example. It's not clever to teach a parrot to swear. It merely reflects the morals of the owner. Whether parrots understand the meaning of many words is doubtful, but you can try to teach the bird the word for certain objects, like "apple." Repeat the word "apple" many times while giving the bird a piece of apple. The more time you spend with your African grey, the more words it will learn.
African greys can live 60 years, so it's not a pet that should be bought for anyone over 50. The bird will outlive the owner. It's best to buy a hand-reared baby parrot, that is used to humans. Domesticated parrots need human stimulation every day, or they will become bored and may start pulling out their feathers. A bald parrot is an ugly bird! African greys have strong beaks that can destroy furniture, so they need to be played with if let loose in the house. Parrots can be taught to perch on one's arm or shoulder. They should not be allowed to attach themselves to one family member only. Everyone should be able to handle the bird without getting severely bitten. This is for the bird's own good. If the bird's favourite person is away, the rest of the family must be able to catch & handle the parrot.
The cage must be big enough for the parrot to flap his wings without hitting toys or perches. He should be let out every day. Parrots will chew off paint, so make sure the cage is suitable for parrots - no toxic paint. Perches should be as natural as possible: fruit tree branches for example. Irregularly shaped perches teach the bird to flex its claws.
Some people clip one wing of the bird - just the tips of the feathers - so that it can flutter to the ground, but can't fly away. If you have a fruit tree, the parrot will enjoy exploring it! Park the cage under the tree and let him out (not if there are cats or dogs around, of course!)
Who is going to clean the cage?
It's important to keep the cage clean. The bottom can be lined with paper, sand, sawdust or wood shavings. The perches need cleaned too, and anything that has parrot poo on it. Knock hard poo off with the back of a blunt knife, then wash with a wet cloth. Don't use chemicals. Poo that won't come off can be washed off with boiling water. The bird must be removed from the cage first! The whole cage should be scrubbed with water once a week and left in the sun to dry. The water dish should be cleaned every day to prevent slime.
Cover the cage at night to shield your African grey from draughts .
Don't use chemicals, stong smelling cleaners, or aerosols in the same room as a parrot, as the tiny lungs can be damaged. Smoke, and fumes from cooking are not good either.
Spray the parrot with water once a week or so, or provide a shallow bath of luke-warm water.
For the sake of mental health, change the toys in the cage regularly. Parrots need lots of human attention, so be prepared to talk to your African grey, and to take him out every day.
Parrot pellets, or seed mixture can be bought from a pet shop. In addition, African greys must have fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Try alternating pawpaw, apple, orange, mangoe, sweet potatoe, and carrots. Different food keeps the bird mentally alert. Fresh fruit that is not finished at the end of the day, should be removed from the cage.
Put a cuttle bone in the cage. This helps keep the beak blunt, and gives the parrot calcium.
Colour: Light grey with bright red feathers under the tail.
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