African Grey Parrots: Health Risks and Disease Concerns

do african grey parrots carry diseases

Do you know the health risks and diseases African Grey Parrots might face1? They need special care as pets. It’s important to know what health issues they might deal with. This way, we can help them live long, healthy lives.

Key Takeaways:

  • Vitamin A and Calcium deficiencies can have damaging effects on the health of African Grey Parrots, leading to conditions like kidney failure or muscle weakness1.
  • Excessive food intake, particularly high in carbohydrates and fats, can result in health problems such as fatty deposits and compromised organ function in African Grey Parrots1.
  • Parrots are vulnerable to ingesting poisons like Avocado and heavy metals like zinc and lead, which can lead to gastrointestinal and nervous system issues1.
  • Inhaled toxins, such as carbon monoxide or paint fumes, can cause respiratory problems in African Grey Parrots due to the sensitivity of their respiratory system1.
  • Tumors are prevalent in parrots, with budgerigars being especially susceptible, developing various internal and external growths1.
  • Virus diseases like Pox virus, Adenoviruses, Paramyxovirus, and others can cause specific ailments in African Grey Parrots, affecting organs like the liver or causing nervous system issues1.
  • The Polyomavirus commonly affects young parrots, leading to sudden death or abnormal feather development in survivors1.
  • Circovirus results in Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), causing feather deformities and immune system damage in African Grey Parrots12.
  • Avian Bornavirus is responsible for Macaw Wasting Disease (PDD), a devastating illness that affects the nerves controlling the stomach, leading to digestive issues and weight loss in affected birds12.

Diet and Nutritional Deficiencies

Many African Grey Parrots get sick because they don’t eat right. They often lack Vitamin A and Calcium when their diet is mainly seeds. These deficiencies can harm their respiratory and digestive organs, leading to trouble breathing or eating. But, with a balanced diet, these problems can be avoided, and the parrots can stay healthy.If African grey parrots don’t get enough calcium and vitamin A and eat too much, they can get sick. Their meals should be mostly pellets, with some seeds and plenty of veggies and greens. Fruits are okay but only in small amounts. A lot of fresh, clean water is also a must for them.Giving Vitamin A to these parrots is important, with a daily dose around 100,000 IU per kilogram. Their diet should be mostly specially made foods, with some fruits and veggies. If they break a bone, they need a splint and foods rich in calcium. Extra Vitamin D helps them absorb calcium right, but too much can be dangerous3.Obese birds should mostly eat pellets, along with a bit of fruits, veggies, and seeds. By making their cage fun with ropes and perches, they can stay at a healthy weight. It’s also wise to avoid foods that are high in iron to keep them well. Adding Vitamin C-rich foods to their diet should be avoided to prevent too much iron. Supplements and certain foods can help control iron levels if they get too high3.

Toxins and Environmental Hazards

African Grey Parrots need special care because they are very sensitive to toxins. This sensitivity affects their respiratory system and their overall health. So, it’s important to watch out for their environment and keep it clean.

Lead Poisoning and Household Poisons

Lead poisoning is a big issue for African Grey Parrots4. They might get exposed to lead through various items like bird toys and jewelry. It’s crucial to keep these items away from your bird to keep them safe.Besides lead, these parrots are at risk from many other household poisons4. Things like acetone, bleach, and insecticides can be dangerous. Make sure these items are securely stored and far from the bird’s area.

Plants and Garden Substances

Some plants can be toxic to African Grey Parrots4. Plants like Angel’s Trumpet, Avocado, and Azalea can harm them. It’s important to keep these plants far from your bird.Additionally, garden substances like sprays and gasoline can also be harmful4. Avoiding these items is key to preventing harm to your parrot.

Respiratory Hazards

African Grey Parrots are very susceptible to inhaling toxic gases5. They can get sick from cigarette smoke, aerosol sprays, and the fumes from overheated pans. Keeping the air clean around them is vital for their health5.Many household items can also harm their respiratory system5. These include scented candles, cleaning products, and paint. Use bird-safe options or always have good ventilation when cleaning.

Infectious Diseases

African Grey Parrots can catch infectious diseases from other birds or dirty areas. It’s key to know these diseases to keep your parrot safe. By spotting signs early, taking steps to prevent illnesses, and visiting the vet when needed, you guard your parrot against sickness.

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)6

This disease comes from a virus and affects the feathers and beaks. It spreads easily among birds through dust and fluids. Birds may die if they get it when they’re young. Adults that catch it can also spread it. Preventing it with vet checks, quarantine, and clean habits is vital.

Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD)6 and Avian Bornavirus (ABV)7

Proventricular Dilatation Disease weakens a parrot’s nerves and muscles. Caused by ABV, it takes a long time to show symptoms. While there’s no cure, some meds can help make the bird’s life better. But, PDD can still be deadly. Working with a bird vet is important for the best care.


This is a common virus among parrots in breeding groups. It shows through bad feathers, bruising, a large belly, or sudden death. A vaccine exists to help stop it. If you have many birds, regular checks and vaccinations can lower the risk.


Also called parrot fever, it affects birds and can pass to humans. It can cause breathing and liver problems. Antibiotics cure it, but it can be dangerous if not treated. Avoid sick birds and wash well to stay safe. Fast treatment is crucial if you get sick.

Other Infectious Diseases

Aside from these, African Greys can get yeast infections and aspergillosis. Baby birds are at risk for yeast infections. They might vomit, scratch their beaks, or have diarrhea. Aspergillosis, a fungus-caused disease, affects the lungs mostly in birds with weak immunity. Vets may use antifungal medicines to treat these diseases.Protozoa parasites also affect birds, leading to diarrhea and acting up under stress. Quick treatment is vital to keep your parrot healthy.

Disease Statistics
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) Spread through feather dust and fluids, this disease affects parrots with severe deformities. Birds can die if they get it young. Adults can catch it later and spread it6.
Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) Caused by Avian Bornavirus, PDD takes years to show symptoms. There’s no complete cure, but some meds can help. Sadly, it can be deadly. Working closely with a vet is crucial for care67.
Polyomavirus This virus is dangerous, affecting breeding colonies and causing various symptoms. Vaccination is available for prevention6.
Psittacosis Antibiotics treat this disease that affects the breathing and liver in birds and humans68.

Being informed about these diseases helps you protect your African Grey Parrot. Keep them safe with regular check-ups, cleanliness, and a careful living space. This is how you ensure your parrot’s well-being.African Grey Parrot

Common Health Concerns in African Grey Parrots

Older African Grey Parrots can face many health issues. These problems often come from eating the wrong foods, having a weak immune system, or other things.Eating the right foods is key for their health. They should mainly eat things like pellets. A small part of their diet can include dark greens, veggies, and fruits. Only a tiny bit should be treats9.Being too heavy is a usual problem for these birds. It can cause lack of vitamins or diabetes. A good diet is the best way to avoid this issue9.They might also get sick more easily. A vet should check them every 6-12 months. This helps find and treat health problems early9.Joint aches and pains are not rare in older African Greys. The right perches and enough space can help keep them comfortable. Exercise is also important for them9.Tumors are a risk too. Finding them early by visiting a vet regularly is important. This makes treatment easier9.Owners should always watch for signs of sickness. This includes odd behaviors or changes in stool or breathing. If illness signs show, getting vet help fast is best9.

African Grey Parrots Lifespan and Subspecies

Their genius and long life make African Greys unique. They’re known as “The Einsteins of the Bird World” because they’re so smart10.They live in certain areas of Africa. There are two types: Congo African grey (CAG) and Timneh African grey (TAG). The CAG is bigger, with a colorful tail and all-black beak10.Finding an African Grey may mean looking at special stores or breeders. It’s vital to pick a trusted place for the bird’s health10.

Life Expectancy and Cage Size

African Greys can live up to 60 years. Their cage should be spacious and safe. A 2-foot square cage that’s 3 feet high is the minimum11.

Cost and Availability

Buying from a breeder can cost between $2,000 to $4,000. It’s crucial to find a good breeder. Adoption from a rescue is a good alternative11.Older African Grey Parrots face certain health risks. With the right care, these can be handled well. Proper diet, check-ups, and a good home environment are essential. Always be alert to changes in behavior and act quickly with vet care as needed9.

Recognizing Illness in African Grey Parrots

Being a good owner means knowing when your African Grey Parrot is sick. This is key to keeping them healthy and getting them the help they need quickly. By staying alert and acting fast, you can spot early signs of illness.Your parrot may show various symptoms if they are not feeling well. Watch out for changes in how they look, act, or their eye health. They might also have trouble breathing, problems with their feathers, or issues with their muscles or digestion12. It’s very important to always be aware of your parrot’s health. If you see anything unusual, don’t wait. Call a vet right away.Pay special attention to your pet’s feathers. If you notice they’re different in color, texture, or shape, your parrot might be sick. Other signs include bleeding, plucking, or not molting as they should12. If their feathers look dull, it could signal a hidden health issue.Checking your parrot’s eyes is also critical. Symptoms like closed eyes or discharge cannot be ignored. If the eyes seem red, cloudy, bulging, or swollen, get help from a vet at once12.If your parrot has breathing problems, like nasal discharge or coughing, it’s a big concern. Watching for signs such as labored breathing should prompt you to seek veterinary care immediately12.Changes in behavior could also reveal health issues. If your parrot acts out of character, they might be sick. Watch for signs like being too aggressive or not as friendly as usual12. Keeping an eye on their habits helps you catch problems early.Neurological symptoms are serious and need quick attention. Watch for signs like balance issues or seizures. If your parrot shows any of these signs, see a vet as soon as possible12.

Recognizing Illness in African Grey ParrotsThe image above is a great example that shows African Grey Parrots in a way that catches your eye.

Summary of Recognizing Illness in African Grey Parrots
Common Signs of Illness: Changes in physical appearance, behavior, eye appearance, respiratory issues, skin and feather abnormalities, musculoskeletal problems, digestive and urinary issues, and neurological symptoms12.
Feather-Related Signs: Abnormal feather color, texture, shape, structure, growth, bleeding from feathers, plucking, baldness, or abnormal molting12.
Eye-Related Signs: Closed eyes, ocular discharge, redness, cloudiness, bulging eyes, or swelling12.
Respiratory Symptoms: Labored breathing, tail bobbing, nasal discharge, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and irregular cere skin around the nostrils12.
Behavioral Changes: Irritability, agitation, aggression, or unusual tame behavior12.
Neurological Symptoms: Balance problems, head tilting, muscle twitching, seizures, paralysis, or unconsciousness12.

Geriatric Care for African Grey Parrots

As African Grey Parrots get older, they might face health issues that need special care. This can include not getting the right nutrients, which can lead to vitamin troubles and too much weight. They might also get sick easily, have joint problems, or even tumors13. Giving your older parrot the right food is super important. Make sure most of their diet is high-quality, with some dark greens, veggies, and fruits. Keep the snacks very small, at 5% or less.It’s also key to keep them active. A couple of hours outside the cage every day does wonders for their health. And to keep their minds sharp, provide fun things to do for at least 5 hours14.Visiting the vet regularly is a must. It can help spot and stop problems early on. Older parrots might start plucking their feathers, get breathing issues, or catch serious diseases like PDD. Being on top of their health is essential14.Diets are a big deal for senior parrots, including African Greys. Stay away from diets full of seeds, as they can cause health issues. A balanced meal plan is key for their well-being. Bad diets could even lead to obesity and serious heart problems15.Along with good food, exercise, and a clean living area, watch for any health signs. Caring for an older parrot means keeping a close eye on their behaviors and health. Your attention will help them stay happy and healthy in their later years14.Caring for an older parrot can be pricey. From buying the bird to ongoing costs, it adds up. Expect to spend between $500 and $5000 just to get started. Then think about the cost of food and care, which can run from $75 to $300 a month14.So, be ready to invest time, money, and love in your older African Grey. With the right care, they can lead a good life for many years14.


Keeping African Grey Parrots healthy requires proactive measures and disease prevention tips. These intelligent and beautiful birds are prone to various health risks and diseases. Yet, with the correct care, their 40-60 year lifespan in captivity can be increased.For their well-being, a balanced diet is key. In the wild, they eat seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, vegetation, and sometimes insects and snails16. As pets, 60-80% of their diet should be pellets. These give them vital vitamins and minerals16.Avoiding environmental hazards and toxins is crucial to stop respiratory issues. They can’t handle things like PTFE in common household items17. Spotting signs of respiratory distress, like dyspnea, early is vital17. These signs might point to problems like organ enlargement or masses. Getting them checked by a vet regularly is essential to their well-being17.It’s also crucial to keep their minds and bodies active every day. This helps their intellect and stops them from getting bored or sad16. Failing to meet their emotional and physical needs might cause them to behave badly or withdraw18. By staying alert to their happiness and getting them help when necessary, owners can guarantee a long and joyful life for their African Grey Parrots18.


Do African Grey Parrots carry diseases?

Yes, African Grey Parrots can catch various health risks and diseases.

What are the common diseases in African Grey Parrots?

They often face diseases like Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD), and Avian Bornavirus.

How can I prevent diseases in African Grey Parrots?

Preventing disease includes giving them a good diet, keeping toxins away, staying clean, and seeing the vet often.

What are the symptoms of illness in African Grey Parrots?

Sick African Grey Parrots might have puffed-up feathers, odd droppings, and trouble breathing. They might also show changes in their eyes, eat less, look messy, and lose weight. Listen for unusual sounds from them too.

How can I recognize illness in African Grey Parrots?

Look out for symptoms like puffy feathers and strange droppings. Signs also include breathing problems, eye changes, a sour smell, less eating, dirty feathers, losing weight, bobbing tail, and strange sounds.

What are the common health concerns in African Grey Parrots?

They might have lacking nutrients, be too heavy, weak immunity, arthritis, and sometimes tumors.

How should I care for my geriatric African Grey Parrot?

Take care of them with good food, regular movement, cleanliness, and check-ups at the vet.

How can I keep my African Grey Parrot healthy?

Keep them safe with a varied diet, remove risky items, stay clean, look for sickness signs, and visit the vet when needed.

Source Links

  1. – Common Diseases of Parrots – The Parrot Society UK
  2. – Diseases of African Grey Parrots
  3. – 5 Ways to Treat Nutritional Deficiencies in African Grey Parrots
  4. – Poisons and Toxins – The Parrot Society UK
  5. – Providing a safe home for parrots through avoiding everyday hazards
  6. – Infectious Diseases of Parrots
  7. – Infectious diseases in birds – part 1
  8. – Psittacosis Fact Sheet
  9. – African Grey Parrot Care
  10. – African Grey Parrot Personality, Food & Care – Pet Birds by Lafeber Co.
  11. – African Grey Parrot: Species Characteristics & Care
  12. – Recognizing the Signs of Illness in Pet Birds | VCA Animal Hospitals
  13. – PDF
  14. – St. Michaels Companion Animal Hospital
  15. – Common Conditions of Pet Birds | VCA Animal Hospitals
  16. – African Grey Parrots (Everything You Need to know)
  17. – Common respiratory problems in psittacine birds
  18. – African Grey Parrots: An Overview of Characteristics and Care

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