how to look after a senegal parrot

How To Care For A Senegal Parrot – A Complete Guide!

Senegals are long-lived parrots, able to reach up to 50 years of age. They require between 4-8 hours of enrichment each day, so toys will be vital in keeping them entertained. They’re not prone to biting, screeching, or hissing, but may do so when stressed. Senegals molt about 1-2 times a year, but this process only lasts a couple of weeks.

Senegal parrots require a cage that’s at least 20 x 20 x 28 inches in size. They need to spend between 1-3 hours outside of their cage, exploring and playing. They thrive with owners that can give them several hours of attention. They also pick up training right away, making them easy to socialize or teach good behaviors. If you don’t have the time to devote, these parrots quickly grow bored, depressed, and frustrated.

Senegals may bond with several people if everyone cares for them equally. They require a diet that’s 70% pellets, 20% veggies and fruit, and 10% a mix of seeds, grains, nuts, and herbs. They love to bathe. Senegals don’t talk often, but they do pick up words quickly and mimic the sounds they hear.

Senegal Parrot Types

There are two subspecies of senegal parrot. These include:

  • P. s. Senegalus: This is the most common species, and they brandish a yellow chest.
  • P. s. Vesteri: This species is known for its orange and red chests.

Aside from those differences, their beaks and heads are oversized compared to the rest of their body. Males will usually be larger than females. As for coloring, most Senegals have:

  • Bright yellow eyes
  • A charcoal-grey head
  • A gray head
  • A grey beak
  • A green back and throat
  • Yellow on their tail and underside
Senegal Parrot care

How Big Is A Senegal Parrot?

Senegal parrots can be anywhere from 9 to 10 inches in length. They usually weigh from 4 to 6 ounces. So, be sure to provide a large enough cage so that they can move around comfortably. Senegals are active and will need space to stretch their wings.

How Long Do Senegal Parrots Live?

Despite their medium sizing, Senegal parrots are quite long-lived. They can reach 50 years of age, though most live for between 20 and 30 years. New owners should be prepared for a several-decades-long commitment. These parrots bond tightly with their owners and don’t take well to rehoming.

How Much Is A Senegal Parrot?

Senegal parrots cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. This price will vary depending on size and coloring. Senegals are typically more expensive than other parrots of the same size. Of course, the above cost is only for the parrot itself. You should also factor in the price of:

  • Food
  • Toys
  • A cage
  • Accessories
  • Grooming supplies
  • Vet care or pet insurance

A cage may cost anywhere from $250 to $500. The accessories (including lights, food dishes, stands, perches, and cage covers) can be around $100.

How To Take Care Of A Senegal Parrot

If you buy a Senegal parrot that previously had an owner, you may not immediately know its age or gender. While this won’t deeply impact how you care for the parrot, it is important information. This will help you anticipate possible egg-laying, hormone changes, molting cycles, and age-related effects on its behavior or health.  

Likewise, you should understand key signs of aggression or discomfort. This will help you smoothly integrate the new pet parrot into your home. Here are factors to consider when caring for your Senegal:

How to Tell the Age of a Senegal Parrot

Senegal parrots develop their coloring based on age. Look at the markings around their eyes, head, and beak. If the parrot has darker eyes, it is likely a juvenile. A mature parrot will have a dark grey head and beak.

How To Tell A Senegal Parrots Gender

Senegal parrots don’t have much sexual dimorphism, but there are signs you can look to. Short of a DNA test, look at the parrot’s mild coloring differences. Females tend to have green (or yellow and green) feathers on the underside of their tails. Males will have only yellow feathers in that area.

The head and beak of a female Senegal will also be narrower. A male will have a broad head and beak.

Do Senegal Parrots Bite?

Senegals will bite if they are provoked, frustrated, or annoyed. If they have been left in their cage too long, for example, they may bite you as a signal that they’re displeased.

However, Senegals are not prolific biters, and they don’t nip for fun. They will only lunge or snap at you (or other pets) if they feel threatened or distressed. Should your parrot develop this habit, be sure to evaluate its cage and the nearby area for stressors.

Why Do Senegal Parrots Hiss?

Unlike some parrots, Senegals do not hiss for fun. This sound is reserved for when they are distressed or frightened. In particular, they are sensitive to loud noises. They will get easily stressed if you, another pet, another bird, or even the TV is too loud.

Why Does My Senegal Parrot Screech?

Despite being talkative, Senegal parrots aren’t prone to screaming, screeching, or yelling. They may sing or whistle, but if they are outright shrieking, it’s because they’re upset. They may have been startled by a loud noise, feel lonely and neglected, or have an imbalance in their diet.

Do Senegal Parrots Molt?

Senegal parrots molt just like all parrots. The molting process happens when new feathers come in to replace old, tattered ones.

During this time, your senegal will be very moody. Handling your parrot too roughly or invading its space may be met with aggression or (at best) aloof behavior.

The good news is, Senegals only molt 1-2 times a year. The molting process only lasts for a couple of weeks, not a few months, unlike larger parrots.

What Does A Senegal Parrot Eat?

Senegal parrots should be fed a varied diet. In the wild, they naturally sample from a wide range of foods.

Pellets And Dry Food

Pellets should make up 70% of your Senegal’s diet. They will contain a blend of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other key nutrients to balance your parrot’s meals.

Pellets can be found at your local pet store. Be sure to choose a brand that’s tailored to Senegals and your parrot’s specific age range. Despite being well-formulated, however, these pellets cannot be all that your Senegal eats.

Seed Mix

While parrots love seeds, especially sunflower ones, an all-seed diet is not good for Senegals. That’s because it’s high in fat. Your parrot may get overweight or experience heart problems if seeds make up more than 5% of its diet.

In moderation, however, seeds will keep your parrot healthy and interested in mealtimes. Aside from sunflower seeds, Senegal parrots like:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Caraway seeds

Nuts

Senegal parrots enjoy eating peanuts due to their high fat content. When given in moderation, these can round out your Senegal’s protein needs. They work best as a treat. You can also add in:

  • Pecans
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Cashews

Fruit And Veggies

Fresh fruit and vegetables should make up about 20-30% of your Senegal’s diet. Some of the best options include:

  • Apples
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli

If your parrot doesn’t eat all of its fresh produce within 24 hours, remove it from the cage. Replace it during the next mealtime. When preparing the fruits and vegetables, be sure to wash them thoroughly. Cut them into pieces, as Senegals are quick eaters and may create a mess with large pieces.

Grains And Herbs

You can also offer a mix of grain and herbs. Your parrot will enjoy the extra carbs found in whole-grain oats. A few herbs will then balance its digestion and add a few vitamins to the mix. Good options include:

  • Dandelion leaf
  • Papaya leaf
  • Oat straw
  • Alfalfa
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Red raspberry leaf
  • Red clover blossoms

Water

Alongside food, make sure your parrot has a fresh bowl of water at all times. Tap water will work just fine unless your water has a lot of minerals or salt in it. If that’s the case, you should go with distilled water.

Water can be given either in a dish or in a fountain-like water dispenser. Senegals are happy to play in the water and splash around. It’s usually wise to offer a second, larger dish for bathing. Otherwise, they’ll dirty their water supply.

Snacks

Your parrot can eat small pieces of meat, cheese, and fish, but this should only be given as a special snack. The same goes for dried fruit like banana chips, raisins, and dried cranberries. They tend to be high in sugar.

what does a Senegal Parrot eat?

What to Not Feed Your Senegal Parrot

Certain foods are toxic to Senegal parrots. Even if your pet shows interest in these foods, keep them out of reach:

  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Avocados
  • Certain types of shellfish

Caffeine may cause your parrot’s heart rate to increase. This can lead to hyperventilation, seizures, and even sudden death. Alcohol can quickly lead to poisoning due to a Senegal’s fast-paced metabolism.

Chocolate is highly toxic to parrots. It can lead to heart issues, depression, liver damage, and seizures. According to the New Zealand Veterinary Journal, chocolate is fatal for both wild and domestic parrots. The same goes for avocados. The oil inside them can upset digestion and result in life-long complications.

Do Senegal Parrots Make Good Pets?

Senegal parrots can make delightful pets for an experienced owner. If you’re prepared for the commitment of this affectionate, long-lived bird, it will be a great companion.

However, new owners shouldn’t underestimate the amount of care that Senegals require. Although they’re medium-sized and even-tempered, their owners must still offer time to:

  • Feed them
  • Clean their cage
  • Train them
  • Play with them for several hours a day
  • Take them to the vet for routine checkups

We’ll now explore everything your Senegal parrot will need, so you can decide if it’s the right species for you.

Attention

Senegal parrots are highly active and social. They require at least 2 hours of your undivided attention each day. About 4 hours of your split attention will be the absolute minimum to form a strong bond. Offering the Senegal 6-8 hours of your time will be ideal, so your parrot doesn’t get bored or lonely. The more time you offer, the more responsive this parrot will be to your training.

Senegals love to play and be outside of their cage to move around freely. When you first bring one home, it will want to spend every moment exploring your house. After this initial period, you should plan to give them at least 1-3 hours out of their cage each day.

These parrots do well in families, because they’re capable of bonding with multiple owners. This depends on how much time they spend with each person, and who primarily cares for them. They will grow fond of the person they see most. If they spend equal time with all your family members or roommates, however, they won’t show as much favoritism as other parrot species. 

Affection

Senegals love to cuddle. They will be affectionate with their owners, longing to be held, handled, and played with.

If you give your Senegal plenty of attention, it will shower you with love. If you don’t have the extra time to give, however, the parrot will quickly grow lonely. For example, if you leave the parrot in its cage or alone for several hours, it can become depressed, behave badly, or start biting.

Quiet

Senegal parrots love to talk, mimic, and make sounds. Unlike other parrot species with this trait, however, Senegals are not loud or noisy. They prefer to make soft calls over loud screeches, and they whistle if they’re bored instead of screaming. This is perfect for owners that live in apartments that share a wall with neighbors.

Senegals are easily startled and react badly to loud noises. If you have a barking dog, a yowling cat, or a young child that hasn’t learned the meaning of an ‘inside voice,’ your parrot may grow distressed.

Long-Term Commitment

Consider if you’re ready for a long-term commitment. These parrots live for up to 50 years. Depending on when you buy it, it may outlive you. Plan on having this bird for most of your life, and consider how it will be cared for once you pass away. If you’re not prepared to have one pet for decades, then consider a different species. 

Be sure to evaluate your future plans. Senegals don’t do well with children, so they may not be the right parrot if you intend on starting a family. Senegals are upset by abrupt changes, so if you will be undertaking several moves, that could rock the parrot’s sense of security.

Enough Space

Senegals need room in their cage to spread their wings and explore. Unlike some species, they are not content with a small cage, even if you let them out often. Be sure your living space has enough room for a large-ish enclosure, as well as all the toys your Senegal needs.

Likewise, your home must be temperature-controlled to avoid sudden changes. A Senegal will become ill if your home gets cold at night or sweltering in the day. Always keep your parrot away from strong smells like food, garbage, or fireplace smoke. Its delicate respiratory system may be harmed otherwise.

How To Look After A Senegal Parrot’s Personality

Senegal parrots have unique personalities. Despite being active and playful, they are rather even-tempered. They’re quiet, but easily startled. They’re very intelligent and pick up words quickly, but get destructive if bored.

Playful

In terms of personality, Senegals are very playful and want constant attention. When you spend time with your pet, talk to it, play with it, and bring it around as you travel to different areas of your house. Senegals won’t be content to watch you from the safety of their cage. They will be desperate to sit on your shoulder or climb onto your head, more-so than other parrots.

With that said, Senegal parrots become agitated when molting and will demand privacy. It’s best to let your pet decide when it wants to socialize. If it’s dead-set on staying in its cage, then never force it out. Senegals are quick to feel betrayed, and trust can be damaged if you offend them.

Keep Toys at Hand

Senegals are highly intelligent, especially for their size. This will ensure your parrot quickly learns tricks, words, dances, and phrases. However, it also means these parrots get bored right away. Always keep several toys on hand, and scattered around your home for easy access. Popular options include:

  • Puzzle toys
  • Disposable toys
  • Wooden toys
  • Bells
  • Climbing ropes
  • Chains
  • Swings
  • Perches

These will keep your Senegal from resorting to destructive behavior. As a plus, it will help curb the amount of attention your parrot will demand from you. As long as it has plenty of toys and room to explore, it may tolerate entertaining itself for a couple of hours.

Socializing

Senegals are very social and may bond with several members of your household. With that said, they are also rather shy around strangers.

Given their easily-scared nature, your parrot may choose to hide in its cage when it meets new people. Senegals will also be upset by large crowds or multiple visitors. If everyone is talking loudly in a group, try taking your parrot to a different room. If you’re meeting your new Senegal for the first time, be sure to:

  • Move slowly, without any sudden hand gestures
  • Speak in a soft tone
  • Talk to the parrot often, so it learns your voice
  • Avoid handling the bird, and wait for it to come to you

Simply being in the same room as your parrot will begin the bonding process. Over time, your Senegal will learn your voice, your face, and your movements. If you offer it treats, toys, or make some fun sounds, the parrot will show interest in you. That makes it a great starting point for building trust.

Training

Because of their intelligence, Senegal parrots require training early and consistently. Without it, they’re more likely to become destructive and moody. The good news is, though, this species is one of the easiest to train. They quickly adapt to commands, remember tricks for years, and aren’t very rebellious. Their affectionate nature and willingness to form strong bonds makes them an ideal student.

Senegals respond best to positive reinforcement. They take up clicker training almost immediately. To begin, you should reward the parrot every time it engages in good behavior. This will include even simple actions, like the first time it allows you to pet it. Over time, you can reward the parrot for stepping onto your finger or interacting with a toy you’ve offered.

Eventually, you will work up to teaching commands and words. Senegals will quickly associate obeying you with getting praise and good food. From that point on, it will be eager to please. You can also experiment with clicker training, so a click becomes the same as positive reinforcement.

Just keep training sessions to 20 minutes at a time, with breaks in between each session. Senegals will get tired and frustrated with longer sessions, and could grow moody.

Do Senegal Parrots Talk?

Senegal parrots are considered prolific talkers because they’re quick to pick up words. Their favorite habit will be to mimic sounds they’re routinely exposed to, such as:

  • Alarm clocks
  • Sirens
  • Clicker sounds from their training
  • Coughs
  • Sneezes

They can learn several dozen words at a time. However, unlike other parrot breeds, senegals don’t talk often. They will remain quiet unless they are trained to speak. They will also limit talking to a few times a day. They are not prone to singing or yelling incessantly.

Like all parrots, though, Senegals will make noise when they’re bored. This will mostly include whistling and clucking sounds. For young parrots that haven’t adapted to words yet, this will be their favorite way of catching your attention.

Senegal Parrot Cage Requirements

To keep your Senegal happy and even-tempered, buying the right cage is paramount. Even if your parrot is routinely let out to explore, it will consider the cage its private home. If it’s too small, lacks accessories, or has the wrong design, your Senegal may display signs of stress. Here’s the best setup to choose:

Dimensions And Bar Spacing

A Senegal’s cage should be at least 20 x 20 x 28 inches in size. However, bigger options will be ideal, as these parrots need room to stretch their wings and explore.

Just as importantly, make sure the door and hinges are escape-proof. Senegals love puzzle toys, and if given a chance, their enclosure will become one great heist. Make sure the bars are spaced no farther than ¾ inch apart, or else these nimble parrots will get stuck. Horizontal bars are best, as they allow your parrot to climb and hang upside down.

For the cage’s design, choose between a dometop or a playtop. Dometop cages will offer additional space for the Senegal to explore. Meanwhile, playtop cages are flat on top and usually have extra perches or toys on the outside of the structure. This is ideal if your Senegal needs the entertainment, but you don’t want it playing around on shelves or appliances.

Where to Place the Cage

Your Senegal will feel most comfortable when you’re in sight. Because of this, be sure to place the cage in a central location, such as your living room or bedroom. If you work from home, then your office is perfect. Even if you’re not interacting with the bird, it will be pleased to know you’re nearby.

With that said, never place the cage near your kitchen. Temperature changes, fumes, and strong smells will upset the parrot. Over time, it may even lead to sickness.

do senegal parrots make good pets?

Cage Setup

Senegals are active explorers, so you will need to include multiple perches. Be sure they’re all different sizes, are set at different heights, and have different shapes.

This will keep your Senegal’s feet strong and limber. It will also give the bird multiple tiers to scale up and down. That should be paired with hoops, rope toys, and other accessories to keep your active Senegal busy.

Cleaning the Cage

Senegals are fast eaters. That usually results in a mess, even more so than with other parrots. They’re also strangely clean birds, which goes hand-in-hand with their large territories in the wild. In your home, the Senegal will get upset if left in a dirty cage. To accommodate that, you should:

  • Change the liner daily
  • Wash food and water dishes daily
  • Sweep or vacuum around the cage 2-3 times a week
  • Sanitize the entire cage at least once a month, or preferably once every 3 weeks

Common Health Problems For Senegal Parrots

Senegals have impressive lifespans. Because of this, you should maintain a careful eye on their health. These birds are prone to certain illnesses, especially as they age. While yours may live a long and full life without ever needing to visit the vet, keep an eye out for:

  • Psittacosis: Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, fluffed feathers, swollen or puffy eyes, and weight loss. According to the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine, this is also referred to as parrot fever. Even humans may catch it.
  • Aspergillosis: This is a common fungal disease in parrots. Symptoms include lethargy, respiratory problems, fluffed feathers, tail bobbing, and weight loss
  • Infectious bronchitis: Symptoms include nasal discharge and coughing.
  • Avian pox: Symptoms include wart-like growths on the skin around the face, eyes, beak, legs, and feet. The parrot may also show difficulty breathing and a loss of appetite.
  • Bornavirus: This infectious disease brings about weight loss, vomiting, and plucking of feathers. That could be paired with balance problems and abdominal distention.

If you notice any of the signs and symptoms above, it’s important to make an appointment with your vet. Of course, the best approach is to schedule regular checkups.

Parrots have delicate immune systems and are prone to hiding illnesses. By having your Senegal regularly examined, you can ensure it stays active, talkative, and affectionate.