By Jamie Turner
African Grey Parrots thrive on activity. In the wild they are very social amongst their own species and forage the forest in groups to search for food. They need to run around, climb, chew and play for most of their day. Their large size makes their need rather difficult to cater in captivity but one must nevertheless try their best to provide the best environment possible.
Choosing the Cage: Before you buy your bird you need to buy its cage. Choosing the cage should take the same consideration it takes selecting a bird. This will be your Greys home- its safe place. It seems incomprehensible that someone would buy a tame Grey and not provide it with a cage. There are very important reasons why every parrot should have a cage. It needs to literally know its place in the house, and know its cage is a refuge from danger to which it can return if it feels insecure. And, of course, its cage is a secure place in which to roost every night and a place to rest quietly every afternoon where it will not be disturbed. Without a cage, the likelihood of the parrot escaping is also greatly increased. The purchaser of a young Grey Parrot may be too excited to notice the important aspects of how their bird has been kept and fed.
Because Grey Parrots have a sensitive nature, they can be more stressed by a transfer to a new location than, for example, an Amazon. The Purchaser should therefore note the size of its present cage and the location and type of food containers used. If the young Grey has been feeding from a low perch with food containers at the same level, and he is placed in a larger cage, he will probably climb to the higher perch but may be very reluctant to climb down to feed. Therefore, it is advisable to buy some hook-on feeders in case it needs to be fed at the perch level to start with. In a large cage perches can be placed at a low level and their height (except one) gradually increased as the Grey feels more at home in the cage.
Remove the grate at the bottom of the cage. African Grey Parrots like to walk on the cage floor and perhaps scratch in a corner. Older hens will probably want to tear up newspaper. There activities are good outlets for their energy.
Features of a Good Cage: When choosing a cage these features are most important:
• Buy the largest size cage you can afford. It should be longer than it is high as this design offers more opportunity for exercise and play. Cylindrical cages should be avoided; they are unsuitable for birds of any species.
• It should have at least some sides with horizontal bars, for ease of climbing.
• It should have a fairly large cage door. This makes it easier to move the parrot in and out of the cage and to clean the inside of the cage.
• It should have food and water containers that can be replenished from the outside. This is standard in all but the cheapest cages.
• It should have castors so that the cage can be moved to other rooms of the house. Greys are curious animals and nothing can be more boring than having the same view everyday.
• Take a careful look at the door catch on your Grey’s cage. These parrots are strong enough and clever enough to undo some cage doors. If this is likely, put a dog clip or a padlock on the cage.
• Newspaper is a good material to cover the cage floor. It is entirely safe (newsprint no longer contains lead) and easily obtainable. As a rule of thumb use the paper without any colored printing- just black and white is safe. It is also a quick change; several layers of paper can be used to line the bottom of the cage and several sheets can be removed twice daily. Do not use cat litter (possibly toxic) or sand (a Grey can scratch it all over the room in a matter of minutes).
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