The African Grey Parrot, or Psittacus erithacus, is the largest species of the parrot family and one of the most clever birds in the world. An adult African Grey can grow to over 30 cm (12 inches) long and weigh nearly 350 grams (just over 12 ounces). They live between 40 and 60 years on average, so you’ll have plenty of time to bond with your new pet!
There are many different breeds of the African Grey Parrot, each with its characteristics and color patterns. Generally speaking, Red-bellied African Greys are more docile than other varieties. An adult Red-bellied parrot may not fly due to its heavy body mass.
On top of their large size and beautiful plumage, African Grey Parrots make for excellent pets because they have a wide range of vocalization skills. Even more impressive is that some owners report that their Greys were talking when they were just three months old! Read on to learn how much it’d cost to get yourself an African Grey.
Why are African Greys so Expensive?
Let’s start with some background information. Seven parrot species make up Africa’s tropical dry woodlands, savannah, and forests.
Senegal parrots, red-fronted parrots, Yellow-fronted parrots, Caspian king parrots, blue-headed macaws, Congo African Grey parrots, and Abyssinian Grey parrots.
The African Grey is a medium-sized bird approximately twenty inches from head to tail. These birds live an average of fifty years; there are even accounts of older birds living to be seventy years old or more.
Due to their size, longevity, intelligence, and striking beauty, they are often considered one of man’s treasures among other pets.
You may wonder why they are expensive? Here are the reasons below:
- They are majorly expensive because of obtaining them, which usually requires a lot of capital for their breeding and purchase costs.
- Their declining number due to poaching is also their high price. Other issues such as governmental restrictions on trade and importation of wild-caught individuals don’t help either.
- Breeder/collector pairs require both mates but finding them is impossible because all available mates are wild-caught.
- The challenge of raising African Greys is due to their high maintenance costs.
One-time Costs Associated with Getting Your African Grey
There are costs associated with getting your Grey on your hands, in addition to ongoing maintenance. Here are some of them:
The breeder is likely to charge an upfront fee, varying from breeder to breeder. This will cover a basic health exam for you and your Grey, plus any vaccinations you’ll need for
Spaying or neutering of your bird(s) should be factored into your budget as well; some breeders charge extra fees, while others include it in their costs.
It might not make sense to get spayed or neutered if you get more than one bird at once because they can often remain bonded.
Check with your breeder about how many birds they recommend keeping together when purchasing multiple birds at once.
If you plan on breeding your Greys someday, understand that expenses (including stud services) can become costly fast!
If you’re adopting your Grey, expect an adoption fee. Again, paying a fee to cover medical exams and vaccinations is also necessary.
Some adoption agencies will also ask you to complete an application to be approved for adoption; others may allow you to skip that step but want a personal reference (like a vet or someone else they trust) to vouch for you and your home.
Be sure to check their policies! Keep in mind that adopted birds don’t come with warranties or agreements—if something goes wrong after you bring your bird home, it’s up to you whether you take it back for a refund.
In addition, adopted birds are often not spayed/neutered, so extra costs should be factored into your budget as well.
Accessories & Supplies
Spending $300-$500 on a bird’s necessities, such as a carrier, cage, and toys is a good rule of thumb. It’s a lot of money to spend, but it’s going to last you years or more if your bird stays healthy. You don’t want to skimp on toys and accessories, as these will help make your pet happy.
At least buy one new toy per week—birds get bored easily! Overall, you should set aside at least $200 for additional accessories like feeding bowls, bath/water containers, and so on.
Although there aren’t rules about exactly how large a cage must be, typical avian cages range from 24′′-32′′ wide by 24′′-30′′ high by 18′′ deep.
That may appear to be a lot of space (and it is), but tiny birds require a lot of areas to fly around to be active and mentally busy.
You should also know that parrots tend to poop a whole lot—sometimes once or twice an hour, especially when they’re nervous. Their feces are big enough that having too little space won’t just cause some discomfort; it can also lead to serious health problems.
When you’re first starting, it’s best to feed your new pet high-quality commercial food. Many birds need to be transitioned from eating before coming home with you.
So it may take some time for them to get accustomed to their new diet. If you have questions about what your bird should eat, ask your vet or a pet store employee; they can help ensure that you give your parrot exactly what he needs each day.
After a month or two of feeding commercial food, switch to fresh vegetables, fruit, and other safe foods in moderation.
Some people mix half pellets and half seed, while others separate things into completely different dishes.
Discuss with your vet which method is best for your specific bird species (some may not like seeds).
After purchasing an African Grey Parrot, please read up on tips and tricks on caring for it properly
until it matures into an adult.
An avian vet charges up to $100 to see your bird; this can be a huge expense, especially if your pet is sick or injured and needs urgent care. It’s always a good idea to ask any potential breeder what they would recommend you do if you needed a vet’s care.
Be sure that they know your trusted veterinarian before purchasing a baby parrot from them. You may even want to make arrangements with them in advance to cover some of these costs as part of their guarantee that your new pet will have proper medical attention should something go wrong.
Some breeders even offer microchipping for no extra cost upon request when you purchase one of their birds!
In addition, just like with people, it’s important to remember that immunizations are required by law.
Each state has different requirements, so talk to your local animal shelter about keeping up-to-date documentation of your pet’s vaccinations and inoculations (sometimes called boosters).
Don’t forget to factor in travel expenses associated with taking your bird back and forth to get checkups at an avian clinic! These visits are usually done once a year or every six months, depending on age and health history.
If you’re not sure if your pet is insurable, then ask yourself what would happen if they became suddenly ill and had to be hospitalized.
What if there is a significant cost associated with that illness? Does it make sense to purchase insurance for your bird?
The answer for most people will be yes. Your insurance plan will also cover accidents and behavioral problems—both of which are common issues among parrots.
Several different plans are available; some include wellness visits, while others don’t. It’s up to you to research and choose a plan that best fits your lifestyle and budget.
In addition, talk to your veterinarian about vaccinations and preventative care—that may help save you money in both medical costs and vet bills later on.
When shopping around for an insurance policy, consider asking these questions: Does my pet qualify? How much is coverage per year/per incident? What will my deductible be (if any)? After submitting a claim, how much can I anticipate paying out-of-pocket?
How to Care for Your African Grey
African Greys are great pets. But they can be challenging to care for. This simple guide below covers the basics of diet, exercise, and health care.
Set up a Comfortable Parrot Home
Your Grey needs a big cage that provides ample room for play and exploration but doesn’t take up too much space in your home.
At least two hours of flight time per day is recommended to keep your pet happy and healthy, so make sure you can accommodate that in your living situation before bringing one home.
Some African Greys don’t like to be touched very often by strangers; if you’re not comfortable with handling birds on occasion, then it may not be right for you.
Figure out What Food is Best for Parrot
There are many dietary options for your Grey, while some pet owners like to cook their bird’s food at home.
It can be very time-consuming and is difficult to keep fresh; an easier alternative is a commercial diet, which you can get in grocery stores or online.
If you’re looking for something more natural, then you might want to try a seed diet.
If you have more than one parrot, give them plenty of space to play and fly. They’ll need room for toys, a swing, and perches large enough for your bird to relax on.
It can also be fun to allow your pet access to an outdoor aviary where they can enjoy nature and fresh air whenever they want.
But don’t forget that these birds are very loud; if you live in an apartment or condo, make sure that your Grey will be happy in a smaller living space with less outside activity. Also, make sure that your bird won’t disturb your neighbors.
African Greys can’t stand a more than 65 degrees temperature, which may wear down their immune system.
If you live in a hot area and don’t have air conditioning, then consider keeping your Grey inside during high temperatures or choosing a different type of pet.
You’ll also need to get your pet a container of freshwater big enough for them to bathe in at all times, so they can stay hydrated and cool down whenever they want.
Clean their Cage
Your Grey will produce a lot of droppings over time, so it’s important to remove these waste products every few days.
Picking up your pet’s cage bottom at least once every two days is a good idea; if you let it build up, then they may not want to spend much time in their home.
Change your Birds Food
These birds don’t need to eat that much, but it’s best to offer them fresh food every day. Always make sure there is enough seed and water available.
Changing both of these products at least once a day is a good rule of thumb for keeping your pet healthy.
Purchasing an African Grey parrot is one of the largest financial commitments you will ever make for owning a pet. As such, you must do your research first if you want to ensure that your adoption of a Grey goes as smoothly as possible.
Some things are out of your control – their species, for example – but many aspects are not and should be carefully considered before purchasing a bird.