Lubica Necasova: African Grey Parrot is a very difficult bird to keep as a pet. PART VI

April 21st, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Lubica Necasova: African Grey Parrot is a very difficult bird to keep as a pet. PART VI
Diseases
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Read also the previous part of this interview:

Discussion about the diet for parrots with the avian vet. Shall we use seeds or pellets? PART V

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We can find on the market also pellets for small parrots and finches. There are the same pros and cons as in case of large parrots?

I think that for example for budgies pellets are very good. They suffer on lipoms, fattening of livers and they die unnecessarily. The regular age of my budgie patients kept as pets is about 6 years which is approximately a half of normal life span. If pet owners would start feeding their birds as I say (seasonal changing of the foods, giving pellets, feeding with grass seeds in summer etc.) then they can live for 15-16 years. The same goes for exhibition budgies. However, I think I will never convince those breeders because they still believe their own true. The regular age of an exhibition budgie is 3-4 years, I believe it’s possible to prolong it.

And isn’t it determined genetically? Maybe exhibition budgies are too degenerated to live for longer age.

You are right, it’s determined genetically much. But if you feed your birds by millet only as many breeders of those birds do?

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File:Budgie (6405117847).jpg

budgie (c) russavia.This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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So do you have any universal advice for the scheme of feeding? You have mentioned seeds, pellets, fruits, vegetables, …?

Actually, you can’t generalize it. Everybody can come to my office and order a consultation which takes 20 min. Then I will explain you how to feed your bird of certain species and will also give you some samples of several products so you can try it. The change of the diet has to be continuous, never sudden. Your birds can’t for example starve because they don’t eat pellets. Maybe they have never seen such food and don’t consider it as food. Sometimes the examination of livers can be a good thing.

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Many pet owners often buy large parrots without any experience. What do you think about this? Do they come at your place and ask for help then?

It happens. But I have to say that there are also very responsible pet owners. They acquire large parrots and by the time got great knowledge about their birds. Then there are also owners who buy a macaw to a small appartment and have kids as well. So they decide to get rid of a bird later and try to find out some smaller species. I think it’s the same for all animals – it mostly depends on the attitude of a certain person.

I have heard that African Grey Parrots often die at early age as pets, is that true?

I agree, many African Grey Parrots die within the first five years of their age.

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File:Psittacus erithacus -pet on perch in garden-8a.jpg

The most popular parrot pet (c) Keith Alison. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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Do you think that this is caused by unexperienced breeders or pet owners?

Actually, sometimes it might be difficult to find out the cause. To my mind, 90% of troubles are caused by new owners. I don’t say that it’s their intention… My oldest African Grey patient is more than 40 years old, I don’t know any older in person. This parrot comes from a lady whose husband worked as a diplomat in Africa. They bought two young African Grey Parrots there, one died at the age of 38 years, the second is still living.

As for African Greys… To my mind, this species is not mostly a suitable pet at all. Only sometimes it really works that a family and the African Grey Parrot get along. However, their popularity is just set so high because they can imitate the human talk well. But I really believe that there are many reasons why we shouldn’t buy this species as a pet. I also don’t think that it’s possible to explain this to people because they want always a talking parrot. Many people who acquire this species will find out that it can be very difficult to keep it and will sell it, eventually. African Greys are so conservative in matter of the diet. I believe that this is caused by their natural ecology. They hate any sudden changes in their environment. Maybe this protects them in the wild.

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Another thing is that this species live in flocks and there is some hierarchy for sure. So when the parrot is lonely then it wants to have a flock from family members or have a strong bond with its owner. But, understandably, humans don’t behave as the bird expect and that’s the cause of many conflicts. The parrot wants to be dominant and sometimes it is allowed to and sometimes not. That’s why the animal is so confused and start self-damaging. Or it is allowed to be dominant always and the whole family is being bited, you can’t cut bird’s nails, it eats only sunflower etc.

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Or another case is when sexual hormones play a role. When it’s mixed with above mentioned problems then it’s very difficult to solve. Nobody wants to have a plucked bird so people let vet to do some examinations but there are so many possible causes that it can take a very long time to fix it.

To summarize it, the African Grey Parrot is a very difficult bird…

So what species do you recommend as a pet?

It depends. Firstly, you have to consider the character of a person, his or her lifestyle. You have to ask if the bird will live with whole family or just one person. Then you can recommend some species. But it also depends if the potential parrot owner will take your advice seriously. Like a girl who just wanted to buy an Eclectus parrot female because it’s red and purple. I told her that this is not a good idea because a female of Eclectus doesn’t get along wih women. She acquired it anyway.

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What about cockatoos and macaws?

Amazons are good because they are more phlegmatic. However, some males can be very dominant. Species like the Festive Amazon or Yellow-necked Amazon might be ecxcellent imitators. Cockatoo females are also a good choice. As for male, the Blu-eyed Cockatoo has a mild temper. On the other hand, Moluccan Cockatoo and White Cockatoo males are very agressive but it can also happens that you keep such bird without any problem. We have also clients who are bited in their face constantly and they just tolerate it because of their love to the birds.

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Title photo: (c) L.Miguel Bugallo Sánchez. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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One Comment

  1. blnt says:

    Greys are easy to keep like other most common parrots. IF the housing conditions are good. Young grey was socialised with more grey parrots for min. 6 months, and with people. If you have an aviary, keep in (grey)pairs, and have plenty of toys. (And so on perhaps).

    If you keep lonely, in a cage what is totally unnatural, you will do not surprise, when its “hard to keep”. And for sure this works with the most parrots.

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