The African Greys are considered the most intelligent and the most talented kind of parrot. They have two main subspecies: the Congo African grey which is slightly bigger with a bright red tail, gray feathers, and black beak and the Timneh African grey which has a maroon tail, darker shade of gray feathers, and a two-tone beak of red and brown hues.
This article will provide not only the costs of purchasing an African grey parrot including the shelter costs and permits but also the cost of maintenance including food, medical costs, and toys.
If you are committed to owning one, sites will also be provided on where you can buy these beautiful pets.
Average Costs and Other One-Time Expenses
The typical price range of this type of bird is between $500 and $4,000, with the difference in price depends on a lot of factors like the subspecies, source, age, etc.
African grey parrots for sale at BirdsNow for both Congo and Timneh African grey parrot babies can cost as high as $3,600. Some sellers offer free shipping. An adult Congo will cost lower at about $1,600 and will come with a powder coated cage and a travel cage.
Birdbreeders offer Congo parrots for about $1,200 to $3,999 and Timneh parrots for $1,600 to $2,900. An older parrot will cost $1,200.
Apart the cost of the bird, you should also be able to set aside a budget for the following upfront costs:
- Shelter Cost
A wrought iron cage with a powder coated finish that has a dimension of 24 inches x 22 inches x 35.3 inches will cost $117.
When you buy cages like this, they will usually come with casters which are useful for moving the cage around, as well as a removable bottom which makes it easier to clean poop and dropped fruit. A built-in play top can save you some space as well.
Note that at least one part of the cage should have horizontally oriented bars so the bird can climb on it.
You may be tempted to buy a second-hand parrot cage to save money but be wary especially if the previous resident of the cage died for unknown reasons. Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) comes from a virus that cannot be removed by simple disinfecting and is fatal to parrots.
On the other hand, a commercial cage will usually come with several removable stainless steel bowls, which are a significant bonus because a single piece of removable stainless steel bowl can cost around $8.
The cage will also come with several Y-shaped perches that the parrot can chew and a straight interior wooden perch for resting.
The “toy” perches will have to be replaced in case the material is toxic, with other wood perches for the parrot to chew on. It gnaws on these hard materials to keep its beak in top condition. An all-natural manzanita multi-branched perch that the parrot can chew will cost $7.
You can also make your own perches with different shapes and branching angles from trees in your area. You only have to make sure that the wood is not toxic to your pet.
The interior wooden perch should also be replaced with a diameter suited for the parrot. The “foot” of the bird should cover 2/3 – 3/4 of the perch.
If the perch is too big, the bird might not be able to grip it properly and will be prone to falling while a small perch where its foot completely goes around it will cause foot problems. It also grooms its beak by rubbing it in these textured surfaces to keep it smooth.
A replacement perch that is comfortable for the parrot and does not cause sores on the foot, as well as providing a textured surface from which the parrot can scratch its beak will cost $20.
- Transporting Cost
You will also need a cage to transport the bird to your home upon purchase and during trips to the veterinarian. A polycarbonate carrier will be lighter than a steel or metal cage.
A 10 inches x 12 inches x 15 inches polycarbonate carrier with stainless steel door and back panel will cost $76. The parrot will not be able to put its beak out in a carrier unlike in a cage with wide bar spacing.
- Licenses and Permits
When bringing your parrot across states, make sure that parrots are legal in the state before you enter or the parrot may be euthanized or you may be fined a fee (or both).
When bringing your parrot into the country, you will need to obtain a USDA import permit which can range from $111 to $565.
A health certificate of the pet from a veterinarian will also be required and the cost of this will vary depending on the vet. Other services requiring fees may also be necessary before your pet can enter the country.
What Do You Get for the Price?
When buying an older parrot, its cage and toys will usually be included in the sale. Younger parrots are often sold as is but can also be shipped.
Maintenance Costs of Owning an African Grey Parrot
Food Costs – a 4-pound bag of seed mix and dehydrated fruit and vegetables will cost $17. Commercial African grey parrot food like this also has a vitamin and mineral premix, including cuttlebone as a calcium supplement.
Repetitive diets can cause your parrot to have deficiencies so try to feed it with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. These also contain phytonutrients not found on commercial feed and are necessary for a strong immune system. A diet like this will take more work and preparation but it will cost you less.
Unless ordered by a vet, stay away from commercial supplements as these can easily overdose your pet with vitamins and kill them.
To prevent vitamin A deficiency, always feed leafy greens and green vegetables. Calcium deficiency can be prevented by almonds and carrots. A cracking beak is a sign of methionine deficiency which can be supplemented by potatoes and boiled corn.
Hygiene Costs – you can buy a parrot nail and feather trimmer which is a surgical stainless steel scissors for $10. Some owners recommend a low noise and low vibration electric nail grinder for filing the nails. This will cost $21. You can also use an emery board for filing the nails but do not start nail trimming until they are old because baby birds need the sharp toes to hold on so they will not fall.
Clipping feathers to prevent your pet from getting a full flight is useful in preventing it from escaping when unsupervised but this is considered cruel by some.
The bird does not need to be bathed. It has the ability to maintain its feathers on its own, called preening. The parrot aligns them for optimum position and removes dirt, dust, or parasites such as lice. This also gives it a healthy appearance which is useful in the wild for finding a mate.
African Grey Parrots also scratch their beak on surfaces such as the cage wire or wooden toys and perches. This behavior is instinctive to them and helps them shed the outer layer of their beak.
The bottom of the cage must be cleaned daily because dropped food can grow mold and fungi and the poop is conducive to bacteria. There will be no need for commercial litter. Lining the bottom with newspapers or brown paper bags is a better choice because you can easily monitor the droppings of the birds and immediately see if something is wrong with them.
Medical Costs – like other pets, parrots are susceptible to various illnesses. Your pet will need to be brought to a specialist whether it is an avian veterinarian or a specialty center where the veterinarians are skilled in exotics. As an example, a visit to The Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine will cost $54 and after hours emergencies can cost $160.
Emergencies can cost more and to lighten the financial load, you can have your exotic pet insured which can cost $15.75 a month.
Toys – Parrots are intelligent creatures and require a lot of stimuli. The most common toys given by owners are chew toys, foraging toys, rope toys and rattlers.
A chew toy made from wood blocks and knots will cost $14. It is in the nature of African greys to gnaw and chew so expect the toy to be destroyed in less than a month. Since the cost of these toys can accumulate, you can try to give them wood, rawhide, cardboard, and paper to destroy.
Foraging toys are puzzles from where they can get treats. An acrylic foraging box can cost $16.
Rattlers provide the parrot with interaction because of the sounds it makes when handled. These will cost $12.
Rope toys can be perched or chewed on depending on the mood of the parrot. These can cost $10. Make sure that these ropes come apart easily because your parrot’s beak and toes can sometimes catch on frays.
How is the African Grey Parrot’s Price Determined?
The prices of the two subspecies of African grey parrot are usually different, with the Congo usually being priced higher. Gender does not play a part in the African grey parrot price.
The factors that affect the price are if the parrot is hand-reared and its age. If it is, it will be more tame, unlike those reared by their parents in the wild. If you see a parrot with a closed ring, then this indicates a hand-reared parrot. These rings can only be placed on the parrot’s leg at a few weeks old and when it grows into it, it becomes permanent. This is different from a split leg ring.
An older parrot will usually be cheaper especially if it does not bond easily to people.
Owning an African Grey Parrot – Buyer’s Guide
Before you buy a parrot, you should also consider some additional costs after buying them. These costs are from modifying your home to accommodate your pet.
Screens may need to be installed on windows to prevent the bird from flying away.
African greys vocalize in the early morning and in the evening before they roost. The noises they make can be very loud so you may also want to soundproof your house.
For a bird that stays indoors, you may want to invest in full spectrum light bulbs as well as timers to simulate sunlight which will provide health benefits for your parrot.
Apart from home improvement, you also need to know that breeders are required to have a license as per Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulations.
Consumers will not need any license to own them but before buying one, ask your seller for their Article 10 license to ensure that you are buying from a legitimate trader. This is because these parrots are now endangered and all trade of wild-caught African grey parrots are now banned. Captive bred parrots can be traded but only if their facilities are registered with CITES.
Finally, parrots will need constant companionship. It is irresponsible to buy one if you plan on leaving it alone for prolonged periods of time. However, emergencies are inevitable, so, if it is absolutely necessary, you may spend $20-$30 per day on “bird sitters”.