You're ready to make a lifetime commitment, and you aren't talking marriage. You're talking about raising an African grey parrot. The African grey, and its subspecies, Congo African grey, are both intelligent and social creatures, and while not domesticated, they make great companions. The personalities of African greys make them popular with bird enthusiasts of all ages.
The decision to bring a Congo African grey parrot into your life is one that should be given great consideration. The average grey has a lifespan of 80 years and will reach an intelligence level equivalent to that of a 9-year-old child. Greys are very social in the wild and need substantial attention to avoid boredom, which may present as loud and aggressive behavior and feather plucking. Ideally, you should plan to spend at least an hour a day engaged in play and socialization with your bird, and keep him in indirect contact with you, in the same room, for several hours more. Greys travel in flocks in the wild, and as his human companion, you've become his flock. If you're a chronic workaholic, or a jet-setter always on the go, the Congo may require more attention than you can provide.
The ideal cage size for an African grey is 48 inches wide and 30 to 36 inches deep. This allows your grey movement inside the cage, and affords him the space to flap his wings. A variety of perches may be added, and toys should be present to keep his attention and curiosity. Pet stores afford a variety of choices in toys suitable for an African grey. Colorful toys and noisemakers can keep your grey occupied during times of your absence. Greys love to hang upside down, so placing a rope or suitable perch high enough to allow this activity is another way to let him entertain himself. Cages should be cleaned frequently to avoid a buildup of feces and discarded feed.
In the wild, the Congo African grey is sustained primarily by a diet of leafy vegetation, fruits and nuts. Greys raised in captivity can be fed mixes available from pet stores and online retailers. An occasional treat of cooked chicken is enjoyable to your grey, and he will pick at the bones to reach the marrow inside. Meal time can be more than just sustaining, it can also be fun for your grey. Hiding your bird's food in small boxes or bits of cotton towel around the cage will speak to his desire to forage for his dinner, as he would in the wild.
As with all pets, African greys may become ill. One of the most common ailments is feather plucking, which is often linked to boredom. Any changes in your bird's behavior should be immediately evaluated by an avian veterinarian. Raising a Congo African grey is a lifetime commitment and, with proper care and attention, your exotic friend can become as comfortable in your family tree as he would be on the twigs his ancestors once perched upon deep in the rainforests of Africa.
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