Senegal parrots are a popular choice as pets for a number of reasons. Though Sengals are not the most colorful of parrots, they are moderately sized, playful, affectionate, and are easily trained. They are also quieter than many other parrot species available to the pet owner. Let’s take a closer look at these small, active parrots.
Senegal Parrot Information
The Senegal Parrot’s scientific name is Poicephalus senegalus. The species is comprised of three races: P.s. senegalus, P.s. versteri, P.s. mesotypus. They have slight coloration differences which lead to their alternate common names.
Senegals have bright green bodies with grey heads and yellow abdomens. According to the African queen aviaries website, there are some characteristics that can allow a reasonably accurate visible determination of their sex. This involves close inspection of the ventral covert feathers, which in adult males is almost always yellow. DNA testing is a more accurate means of determining gender if this fact is of importance to you.
The main variation, senegalus, is also known as the Yellow-bellied Senegal Parrot. The mesonypus race is also called the Yellow-vented Senegal Parrot. Alternate names of the versteri variation are Red-bellied or Orange-bellied Senegal due to the red or orange feathers on their breasts and lower abdomens.
Senegal Parrots are companion parrots that reach a size of approximately 9 inches (23 cm) and a weight of about 5.4 ounces (155 grams). Parrots.org reports that they are found in the wild throughout West Africa, where they can be found in a wide range of wooded areas. They migrate based on food availability, which in their native environment consists of fruits, seeds, and buds.
What Do Senegal Parrots Look and Sound Like?
For a parrot its size, Senegals appear to have a large head and beak. They have short, broad tails and are a little more stocky than other small parrots such as conures. Young Senegals have brown eyes that change to yellow or orange as the bird matures.
Though considered quiet by parrot standards, they do spend a lot of time chattering and whistling softly. Flocks in the wild are very social, chirping and whistling to each other all day long. When excited they will screech loudly. If you notice excessive screeching, check the bird’s location for anything new or disturbing that may be triggering this unnatural reaction.
They can be taught to speak and can have a vocabulary of around a dozen words. Senegals are known to be much better at mimicking household noises, such as the phone ringing or that of a squeaky door, so be prepared to be surprised as they learn new sounds.
Senegals love toys, especially wooden ones, and will spend a large part of their day playing and chewing in their cage. They are cuddly and love to be held and interact with their human companions. Here is a nice video of a pet Senegal making its natural calls and whistles:
What Is A Senegal Parrot’s Personality Like?
Senegal Parrots love to get attention, and you should plan on being able to spend several hours a day with them. This can simply mean being in the same room for part of that time, and it is a good practice to have them out of their cage for at least an hour a day.
Senegals are generally friendly to everyone. They can, however, be territorial and have a tendency to bond strongly to an individual in the home. Jealousy can lead to aggression towards other people. For this reason, it is wise to have them interact with all family members so they do not bond too closely to one person. Senegals are not a particularly good choice for children, as this territorial streak can lead to biting.
Care should be taken if considering a second bird as Senegals can be aggressive towards newcomers, so you certainly need separate cages. Bonding between them cannot be forced and sometimes will never occur. In some instances, they can become very friendly toward their avian housemate, but this is not always the case.
These parrots are very playful and enjoy many toys in their cage as well as plenty of time out of the cage spent with their owner. They love climbing and swinging and can often be seen hanging upside down as they play.
Senegals are intelligent and can be trained to perform tricks and mimic some words. Training is best done with young parrots, with a clicker and treats as a reward. Below is a video of a Senegal Parrot doing a number of different tricks on command. Patience is the key to training your Senegal, or any parrot for that matter.
Caring For Your Senegal Parrot
Indoor temperatures for your parrot range from the mid-60s to mid-80s Fahrenheit. Being native to Africa, they can handle the warmer temperatures.
According to the Beauty of Birds website, there is some controversy over the best diet for a captive Senegal. Pellet food is an option, but some owners prefer to attempt to more closely duplicate their natural diet. This would include seeds, nuts and dried fruits, vegetables and beans. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also recommended to maintain your bird’s health.
The minimum cage size should be 3 x 3 x 4 feet with 1/2 to 3/4 inch bar spacing and should be larger if your bird will not be spending much time out of its house. They tend to not do well in confined spaces.
Multiple levels of perches, including some rough perches to help keep nails trim, are essential. Swings and toys should be plentiful, as these parrots love to climb, chew and play. This will ensure that your bird gets the physical and mental exercise that will keep it healthy and happy.
Molting occurs yearly based on the hormonal cycle of your bird, with the first molt occurring when they are several months old. They love to bathe and should be offered the opportunity regularly.
Breeding is legal but the birds can be aggressive toward their mates. It is not recommended for the novice breeder to make an attempt with Senegals. When successful, females usually lay 2 to 3 eggs. Here is a video of a breeder showing the newly laid eggs.
Do Senegal Parrots Live A Long Time?
In captivity, Senegals can live up to 40 years. Lack of exercise can lead to an overweight parrot and diminished health. They are also prone to respiratory problems and can have an issue with excessive beak growth. This can be a sign of liver disease and should be addressed by an avian vet.
How Much Will It Cost To Own A Senegal Parrot?
Senegals can be obtained from a price range of $600 to $800. Expect to spend a fair sum on their cage, food, and toys. Though not terribly destructive, you will need to replace worn toys and introduce new ones to keep the bird interested. These costs can add up over a prospective 50 year lifetime.
Should I Get Senegal Parrot?
Senegals are a popular pet parrot due to their temperament and behavior. You will be making a substantial investment in time and money if you choose to own one. If you can handle those responsibilities, Senegals make an excellent choice in a pet parrot and you can look forward to years of enjoyable and entertaining interaction with your bird.
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