A few days ago Bernard & Esteni came home with two tiny fluffy baby African Grey Parrots.
The Parrots we got before were always at least about 12 weeks old and were very much able to take care of themselves. These guys were more like 8-9 weeks old, tiny, weren’t eating solid food yet (they are eating a bit of it now though) and did not yet have all their feathers. Which basically means that they would have to be handfed several times a day and the temperature would have to be regulated.babies first day
So I was a bit freaking out because I had not yet done this before and was a bit ‘unprepared’ as I hadn’t done much research in terms of taking care of little parrot chicks. When they arrived I went and prepared their formula mix because they looked a bit hungry. The food smelled quite a bit like the Pronutro mix we’d feed rescued wild baby birds, so that gave me some comfort because I knew that if we’d just get the feeding part right everything else would be fine.
After they’d eaten and we had set them up in their cage I went to do some reading on African Grey Parrot chicks. First thing I wanted to find out was what type of “housing'” requirements these baby chicks have. The box they came with was the box they had been living in at the breeder’s place. It was a cardboard box with wood shavings in it, and the wood shaving were scented. From previous research in terms of what bedding to use for our other parrots and cages, I knew that wood shaving were mostly a ‘no-go’. You never really know what type of wood you’re dealing with (some are toxic to parrots), and if the parrot digest the wood shavings it can cause internal problems to their digestive and or respiratory system.
So I was not surprised to find out that wood shavings were set as ‘not acceptable’ as bedding for Parrot Chicks yet here this breeder had put it in their box. What was worse was that the wood shavings were scented and you could just smell all these chemicals pouring out of the shavings – which would only bring about more damage if they would get it in their head to play with the shavings in their mouth (parrots absolutely love putting things in their beaks). The scent was so extensive it was making Gian and myself feel nauseous.
So I got a bit upset about that, especially since you’d think a breeder would know what the hell he/she is doing with the parrots.
We took out all the shavings and put in shredded newspaper instead (which is what we use for our other Parrots).
Parrots todayNext I researched chicks’ growth phases.
Turns out the chicks were about 8-9 weeks old -- and the breeder had sold Bernard & Esteni food for baby parrots from the age of 2 to 6 weeks…. So that really starts to make you wonder if this person from which they got the parrots knows what he’s doing.
I kept feeding them the same formula until someone went to town and got us the right one. They were also not supposed to be living in a box but get a bit more space so they can start walking around and maybe start perching around on wood and play with some toys.
Before this whole chick experience it already became quite clear that most of the time, the people that breed for the pet market, or petshops = have no idea what they are doing (but only do so for money).
When we first got our Parrot we bought him a shitload of sunflower seeds and peanuts because that’s what they were feeding the parrots in the petshop – it seemed like a common sensical thing to do. Only after doing some reading up on Parrots and their dietary needs it turns out that feeding them only seeds is like killing your pet slowly but surely. Sunflowers and other seeds / nuts are very high energy/fatty foods and can create liver problems for birds (most pet parrots die after 5 years of purchases even though they are supposed to have a life expectancy of for instance 60 – only because their dietary needs aren’t being met, which accumulates over time resulting in death by malnutrition – or rather – lack of education).
The cages that are available for Parrots most of the time have terrible impractical designs or toxic coating = again showing that it’s not about providing the best care for you pet but only the best interest of the person’s wallet.
Our first three parrots : Parrot, Papegaai and Munchie were all clipped before we got them (the two babies still have their full wings and we are going to keep it that way unless it becomes problematic). In our room we were having problems with the parrots “flying” and crashing into things (they were also hyperactive initially because of the sunflower seeds and then later as withdrawal symptoms of not getting sunflowers as their staple food) and then hurting themselves due to the bad landings. Since they were already clipped we thought that maybe they’d had to be clipped more severely so I went to check out the whats and hows of parrot wing clips. Turns out that it was not a case of not being clipped enough, but rather of being clipped too much. African Grey parrots are heavy bodied birds and need quite a bit of wing just so they can glide down smoothly and not crash into things. I went to inspect the parrots their wings and found out they were all clipped in a different way and all terribly off from what it’s supposed to be….sigh….again.
When we are doing the whole Exotic Pets Sanctuary / Rehabilitation we are definitely going to be giving educational programs so that new pet owners will be able to give the best care to their pets. There’s just too much abuse going on in the pet industry resulting from a lack of education and general care about the actual animals. And all of this is just from exploring African Grey Parrots --- they only represent a fraction of the animals existent within the pet trade industry, one can only guess what other abuse is happening to all the other remaining animals.