Is an African Grey okay for me?

A.K

New member
Jan 10, 2022
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Hello. I’m a 13 year old girl. I’m not your average teenager, no Tic Tok for me, or dates. I’m thinking of getting a African Grey as a ‘therapy pet.’ I’m suffering from a mental illness, and pet birds help me a lot. I used to have a budgie, she passed away unfortunately. It wasn’t my fault, I’m a very responsible owner. I tended to her every need, like everything. I’ve done my research - what am I going to do in college? I have that planned out. African Grey’s are high maintenance pets, I know. I believe I can take care of one. I know they need a lot of mental stimulation, I can do that. The cost doesn’t’ worry me, my parents have already agreed to pay all costs. They both say a African Grey is a brilliant idea, so no worries there. If you own a African Grey, could you let me know anything specific I need to know about them, am I okay to own one? I am VERY responsible, my mental health won’t get in the way. I’m looking for an animal to BOND with. I’m not allowed a dog (religious reasons) and I despise cats, budgies are really small, and I couldn’t bear losing another one. African Grey seems perfect for me.
 

Tikitiel

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African grey just seems..
I dont know how to explain it-
Have you looked to conures pionuses cockatiels or quackers or any other meduim bird that is smaller then a grey?
If not definitely do!
 

itzjbean

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This all sounds great and good -- for the next 5-10 years. But you will eventually leave your parents home, likely find job or have to figure out things on your own, without their help. You will eventually need your own way to pay for your bird, as these guys live something like 50 years. You'll be caring for this bird when you're in your eldery years, which is a long time, not even kids stay with thier parents that long!!

I was that kind who got a conure at age 13. I loved it at first, but soon life got in teh way -- i got a boyufrined, began sports and wen toff to college, and I had no idea my life would change so compeltely. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was still a kid and trying to raise a bird any larger than a cockatiel is like taking care of aliteral CHILD.

Eventually, I had to rehome him to someone else because I just couldnt keep up with his care, attention needs as well as my own teenage life taking off.

So, please wait! Wait unitl you can afford it ON YOUR OWN WITHOUT YOUR PARENTS HELP> That way you will know for sure you can take care of all its needs, without relying on your parents, because eventually, EVERYONE leaves their parents house! Even those who are mentally ill usually still en up leaving their parents houe at some point to live their own adult lives.

My advice, wait until you are 21, then get your own home, make sure you can handle all expenses on your own, grow up a little and enjoy your childhood, THEN settle down with a parrot.
 

zERo

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Dec 9, 2021
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I have a male green Quaker, a male pineapple green cheek conure, two male cockatiels and one female; two male budgies and two female budgies.
I would reconsider what species you want. African greys are so very sensitive and going from a tiny budgie all the way up to a grey is a huge step. Have you ever considered a reptile? I have many snakes and holding them can be a very calming experience. If you feel you must get another bird, I would try a smaller one like a cockatiel.
 

Laurasea

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None of know the future, on how things in life turn out.

I believe you are intelligent, and want to be diligent , and you are thoughtful and proactive as well.

The hard part , the advice we give all younger folks, is that your life is going to change so much in the next few years. And any parrot is like adopting a small child in many ways. So it is not that you aren't smart enough, or dedicated enough, or responsible enough. I believe fully that you are in this moment. But a parrot like grey , is going restrictive, a challenging and even a burden as you move through high-school, college, and navigation of independence.

For humans this time in your life is full of so much change. Many people you will form friendships or relationships with will not be into parrots or have fear of them , and jealousy or a parrot disliking a partner is common.

Also it can restrict who you live with and where you live. Travel is difficult. Extra hobbies are difficult. Finding adequate time daily every day is difficult. A parrot like a grey is going to require minimum 5 hours out of cage time daily, plus time for providing enrichment like foraging when you aren't there and the mess cleaning and time creating meals of fresh veggies in addition to their pellets and seeds. There are always noise issues and destruction of stuff too.

This species just is a little more challenging because of intelligence. And are a little more prone to self destruction:, feather plucking in their frustration. I believe they have some special needs with calcium and need sunlight exposure to prevent vitamin D issue . ( I can't remember exactly)

I pet sit for one for a few years for a freind. Was challenging. The owner had the grey since her 20s before marriage and then later children. The grey developed behavior issues as now she wasn't able to provide the same amount of time. She had to higher a behavioral expert, and tge only place she could find more time fir the parrot was getting up st 4 am and spending time with him before the rest if the family got up. ....the parrot never liked her husband or interactive with the children..
She loved him abd worked to keep her commitment to him. But she said if she could have a do over she would not have gotten him. She even wanted me to take him, but it was bad timing in my life and he and I didn't really connect.

Just to give you stuff to think about.

It could be that this is the best choice for you and your life, that you are the exception, and that in the years ahead you sacrifice, and adapt . I never want to stand in the way of someone dream or tell them they can't.

I'll share this advice that has served me all my life.
" How much do you want this, and how much are you willing to give up to make it happen (work)? "
I asked myself that before career choice, job choice, relationships, pets, learning row( I was terrible at It, but I wanted it), before purchasing a kayak, a car, a home......
Because for big things in life there are big sacrifice.
 

Birdgirl24

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I have 1 budgie, He is a male both. I have been looking into getting an Eclectus Parrot tho.
I would say that is a HUGE step personally i would wait and maybe get a conure or a Sengel or a caique. We're not saying maybe you should reconsider because we don't believe you're capable because I'm sure you are. We just care because we understand how living with a full sized bird can be. And we just want you to be prepared.
 

Laurasea

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For some with mental health issues, having a parrot increased the Stress, causes worsen of symptoms. While for some it was a help.

This is a thread with mental health and parrot
Thread 'Mental illness and owning parrots' https://www.parrotforums.com/threads/mental-illness-and-owning-parrots.74949/

Adult parrots go through puberty and then hormonal breeding seasons 1-2 times a year. There can be an uptick in aggression during those times. And it can be challenging

Share not as judgment, but show how life changes, priorities change, and how difficult and challenging that is.
Thread 'Stressed from a needy parrot' https://www.parrotforums.com/threads/stressed-from-a-needy-parrot.91874/
Follow up thread
 
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foxgloveparrot

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I'd go with something smaller. Big birds are NOT good for teens. I'm not saying you'd be a bad owner, in fact you'd be a great one, but with school you couldn't meet all the needs of a big bird. It's just very hard to do. My recommendations for you would probably be a conure, cockatiel, senegal, budgie, parrotlet, other small bird. Maybe a pionus; I had one as a teen and he was actually great for my situation.
 
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wrench13

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As so often happens with inquiries like this ( and we see many ) the OP is looking for affirmation of the desire and not honest advice, which is almost always to wait until the person is an independent, free living adult. Can a young teen adequately take care of larger parrots until that time? Hesitatingly yes, but for every 1 that succeeds how many other parrots are shuffled off to the side, to be ignored and possibly rehomed, after much phycological trauma to the parrot. I plead with the OP to heed what the other members are saying and to wait.
 

texsize

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There seems to be a bit of a catch 22 that I have never come to terms with.

If you get a bird with a 60 year lifespan when you are 20 you will be 80 when the bird reaches 60.
Looked at from that perspective isn’t it better to get the bird when you are younger?

At the advanced age of 61 it is more and more difficult to do the routine maintenance these birds require. At 80 (if I make it that far) how easy is it going to be changing papers on my knees.

yes life can and will change but if you have made the commitment you con find a way to make it work.
 
OP
A

A.K

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Jan 10, 2022
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Hi. I’m just going to respond to everyone here in one message. For me, birds calm me down. They do not increase my stress. I will definitely look into a smaller bird. Thanks for your advice, everyone. As for the reptiles, sorry but snakes are terrifying for me. From what I know, snakes also aren’t the most affectionate creatures on the planet. Anyway, I’ll begin researching smaller birds. I won’t be buying a African Grey anytime soon. One question; If I were to wait a couple of years to buy an African Grey, around what age should I be? I won’t want to get one that (as texsize said), would be 60 while I’m 80. Basically, my question is, at the time of purchase, what age should the parrot and I be?
 

Birdgirl24

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I have 1 budgie, He is a male both. I have been looking into getting an Eclectus Parrot tho.
I'm planning on getting an African gray when I get a small house so that people don't complain and hear screams because i'd hate to have complaints about me having an African grey in an apartment so I'm just gonna be patient and wait till I get a small house.
 

hiriki

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If you're concerned about the bird outliving you, you can adopt an adult instead of purchasing a baby. I recommend this personally for anyone.

I wouldn't recommend buying an African Grey until you're independent and you can look 5 years ahead and be confident that you'll be in the same or similar position. Going from your teens to your early 20s, you'll probably end up moving a lot if you go to college, and you'll be moving places that likely won't allow pets. I was lucky in my early 20s--all of my apartments allowed my conure. Not everyone is so lucky, and certainly they wouldn't have allowed a grey. Once you're in a stable home that allows large birds and you're fairly confident you'll be there long term, you have your own income and you can afford it, then go ahead and get your grey.
 

Hannah.

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Apr 29, 2021
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Hello. I’m a 13 year old girl. I’m not your average teenager, no Tic Tok for me, or dates. I’m thinking of getting a African Grey as a ‘therapy pet.’ I’m suffering from a mental illness, and pet birds help me a lot. I used to have a budgie, she passed away unfortunately. It wasn’t my fault, I’m a very responsible owner. I tended to her every need, like everything. I’ve done my research - what am I going to do in college? I have that planned out. African Grey’s are high maintenance pets, I know. I believe I can take care of one. I know they need a lot of mental stimulation, I can do that. The cost doesn’t’ worry me, my parents have already agreed to pay all costs. They both say a African Grey is a brilliant idea, so no worries there. If you own a African Grey, could you let me know anything specific I need to know about them, am I okay to own one? I am VERY responsible, my mental health won’t get in the way. I’m looking for an animal to BOND with. I’m not allowed a dog (religious reasons) and I despise cats, budgies are really small, and I couldn’t bear losing another one. African Grey seems perfect for me.
Make sure that you're parents are willing to take care of this bird if you are going to stay at the dorms for college. Keep in mind that wherever you live you will need to make sure they allow pets and you can afford to pay the pet fee. Parrots are amazing companion animals. I have a bluefronted amazon and she helps my anxiety and depression so much. I'm in college and she stays at my moms until next year when I get my own place. Keep in mind that parrots aren't pets. They are basically wild animals that we have let into our homes. They take so much patience, love, attention, time, and money. They can be a life long commitment so make sure this is really what you want. If you know anyone with a parrot it may be a good idea to take care of theirs for a week if they go on vacation or something just to see what it's like.
 

Danuofr12

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Oct 7, 2017
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Hello. I’m a 13 year old girl. I’m not your average teenager, no Tic Tok for me, or dates. I’m thinking of getting a African Grey as a ‘therapy pet.’ I’m suffering from a mental illness, and pet birds help me a lot. I used to have a budgie, she passed away unfortunately. It wasn’t my fault, I’m a very responsible owner. I tended to her every need, like everything. I’ve done my research - what am I going to do in college? I have that planned out. African Grey’s are high maintenance pets, I know. I believe I can take care of one. I know they need a lot of mental stimulation, I can do that. The cost doesn’t’ worry me, my parents have already agreed to pay all costs. They both say a African Grey is a brilliant idea, so no worries there. If you own a African Grey, could you let me know anything specific I need to know about them, am I okay to own one? I am VERY responsible, my mental health won’t get in the way. I’m looking for an animal to BOND with. I’m not allowed a dog (religious reasons) and I despise cats, budgies are really small, and I couldn’t bear losing another one. African Grey seems perfect for me.
My family was given a white eyed conure when I was 14. It ended up bonding with me, as I guess I was the most attentive to it. Anyhow long story short it lived at my dad's house until I was about 29, then he said take it or I'll find a home for it. So now I have it. I've been apartment living the past decade, and having a bird definitely will reduce your options for where you can live, at-least here in cali. Although the way I did it with waiting until I was "established" is probably the best option especially with an African Grey, those things require a whole room to themselves basically, can be loud and have high maintenance. You're better off working a deal with your parent holding on to the thing until your out of school and can afford to take on the bird, otherwise I would look for something more manageable.
 

TinkerTimneh

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May 12, 2019
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Hello. I’m a 13 year old girl. I’m not your average teenager, no Tic Tok for me, or dates. I’m thinking of getting a African Grey as a ‘therapy pet.’ I’m suffering from a mental illness, and pet birds help me a lot. I used to have a budgie, she passed away unfortunately. It wasn’t my fault, I’m a very responsible owner. I tended to her every need, like everything. I’ve done my research - what am I going to do in college? I have that planned out. African Grey’s are high maintenance pets, I know. I believe I can take care of one. I know they need a lot of mental stimulation, I can do that. The cost doesn’t’ worry me, my parents have already agreed to pay all costs. They both say a African Grey is a brilliant idea, so no worries there. If you own a African Grey, could you let me know anything specific I need to know about them, am I okay to own one? I am VERY responsible, my mental health won’t get in the way. I’m looking for an animal to BOND with. I’m not allowed a dog (religious reasons) and I despise cats, budgies are really small, and I couldn’t bear losing another one. African Grey seems perfect for me.
Hi,
You sound like a responsible pet owner but there are things you need to consider as other posters have said. I got my grey when I was in my 20s, and my life was a lot different. Now i'm 49 and the mother of 2. I love him dearly but I can honestly tell you he's as much work as my kids are and there have been times where life would have easier without the responsibility. He's opinionated, sassy, and a mess. When we go on vacation we need to make sure that he's taken care of. Many pet sitters don't know how to take care of birds. He's loud. I have a house but an apartment wouldn't be great for him. He's 22 years old now and his life expectancy is similar to a persons if healthy. Thankfully both of my kids love him because he will one day have to live with one if he outlives me and my husband. He's outlived multiple dogs and grieves each time. And he's very bonded to me so if I don't spend enough time with him he acts out just like a person. My suggestion would be to look at other options. All pets are a big responsibility but Grey's are with you your whole life if you're lucky.
 

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Stitchthestitch

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I won't repeat what others who have answered your initial question, as I will only be echoing the same sentiments. however,you never said What drew you to an African grey?

If I may shed some light on owning a smaller bird while having mental health problems? You don't specify what is wrong and nor do I wish to know, but it may help as I suffer with severe anxiety and mild depression.

I've a darling green cheek conure who is a small species.

He is incredibly intuitive to my moods. If I'm feeling very depressed, he will spend his time pressing his tiny little body against my neck while giving me kisses and him telling me "love you" (note not all birds talk,, while some are known to talk better than others., even known talkers may not utter a word) when I'm feeling very anxious, he ups the silly antics to make me laugh. He is loyal and affectionate and down right loving. And he loves me unconditionally and knowing that helps a lot. Conures live to about 30 with excellent care.

He is quiet (mostly.... See his latest video! He wants to start a band!) and easily trained. I would say they were a big bird personality in a little birds body. However. They are much more willing to use there beaks. Look at my post history to see what I'm talking about.

Another point about reptiles that is a huge misconception. They absolutely are affectionate in their limited way. I used to have a gorgeous snake who couldn't wait for me to get home from school, she would always be super active and searching for me about 10 minutes before coming home. If a friend was handling her, she'd be searching me out and try to get to me to hang around me neck and chill. My bearded dragon was the exact same.
 

FleurDeLisGrey

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Aug 13, 2010
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Hello. I’m a 13 year old girl. I’m not your average teenager, no Tic Tok for me, or dates. I’m thinking of getting a African Grey as a ‘therapy pet.’ I’m suffering from a mental illness, and pet birds help me a lot. I used to have a budgie, she passed away unfortunately. It wasn’t my fault, I’m a very responsible owner. I tended to her every need, like everything. I’ve done my research - what am I going to do in college? I have that planned out. African Grey’s are high maintenance pets, I know. I believe I can take care of one. I know they need a lot of mental stimulation, I can do that. The cost doesn’t’ worry me, my parents have already agreed to pay all costs. They both say a African Grey is a brilliant idea, so no worries there. If you own a African Grey, could you let me know anything specific I need to know about them, am I okay to own one? I am VERY responsible, my mental health won’t get in the way. I’m looking for an animal to BOND with. I’m not allowed a dog (religious reasons) and I despise cats, budgies are really small, and I couldn’t bear losing another one. African Grey seems perfect for me.
Hi.
My grandmother gave me a baby African Grey (Timneh), when I was very young. I went away to school all was well and fine. My parents helped me take care of him while I was away at school. I would visit him on holidays. It never hurt my bond with him. When I moved out on my own, permanently, I took him with me. He is (hopefully) my life long friend. I am hoping we will grow old together. He is my heart covered in feathers, and when I am away from him, I feel I’m missing a part of my heart. We’ve gotten through some very tough times together. So, far I’ve always been able to pay for his vet checkups, grooming appointments, he has gone traveling with me around the U.S., we go hiking together (he has a little backpack traveling case), I’ve never had any problems with him and we are life long friends. I couldn’t at this point imagine my life without him! So, if you are a mature young girl who loves birds, who is very patient and doesn’t mind many years of nips from an African Grey (African Grey babies like to bite until you teach them not to), who is willing to research the best diet for your Grey, feed him//her right, spend money on vets, groom him/her as needed, and teach him/her as needed, and you have a loving family who will welcome him and take care of him properly while you go to off your school, I would say you are the right age and mature enough for a Grey. But an African Grey is and should be a lifetime commitment. So you need to be sure this is what you want more than anything else. African Greys need a lot of love and attention like little kids. They also need to be trained, taught communication skills, and need a safe environment to play and explore.

But, if you are ready, this is what you want , and you are good with birds… You are not too young. It may be the best addition to your life that you could ever ask for…

You should ask a vet how you should care for your Grey. Harrison’s pellets are a good choice with supplemental fruit and veggies. Cooked sweet potato is great. Chocolate and Avocado are poisonous. Please ask an avian vet for a good break down of how to care for your Grey. You will also have to find a good avian vet near you. And, since you are only 13 you are going to need help transporting your Grey there for appointment and with making appointments. So your parents have to agree.
 

Kit

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As a college student at an Ivy league living with her Green Cheeked Conure, Rabbit, five mice, 30 gallon fish tank, large plant collection, and a bantam rooster, I can confidently say it can be done. I know my pets will limit my future plans, but honestly, they're worth it. Just make sure you do a lot a research and try to meet a few African Greys before you commit to one. Maybe try volunteering at a rescue for a while! I really wanted to before I got my GCC but because of my traveling back and forth to college I never was in one place long enough. But while you're still in one place, take advantage of it!

I will also say that I did get my GCC to replace my rooster as my Emotional Support Animal when I couldn't bring him to college initially. I have found that Bertram (my GCC) is less emotionally supportive and more requiring of emotional support, but that's my experience. I also was informed when I was doing parrot research that Greys weren't very cuddly (something personally important to me) so that's why I personally went with something else. I also want to plug imprinted roosters as emotional support animals. Amandine is incredibly attentive and tuned in to my needs, and I really think it's something to think about if you want a pet bird for mental support.
 

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