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Patricia, Parrot Consultant
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 1759
Experience:  Published author, free lance bird behaviorist, adviser to the parrots at Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
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I have an african grey parrot who has stopped talking! He ...

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I have an african grey parrot who has stopped talking! He knows lots of words and used to talk alot, but never talks anymore! What have I done? How can I get him to talk again?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.
Hello. I see you bird is apparently over 12 years? How old is he? How long ago did he stop talking? Has he totally stopped or just a lot less gabby than normal? Has anything at all changed about his enviornment? Anything like a new cage, new or different toys, a change in diet, a change in eating habits, any changes any any of his other behaviors. Have you seen any change in the appearance of his droppings? Any new furniture in the home, a rearrangement of the furniture? Anyone move in or move out? Any other pets in the home? Anything at all you can think of that may have changed in his normal day to day routine? Keeping in mind something we might not even think about, might be a big deal to a Grey? Please tell me about his normal dailey diet. What is the average amount of time you have to spend with him each day and how much time is he allowed out of his cage each day. Has he been in for a vet check up lately, and/or has he has a recent wing or nail trim? This extra information and anything else you may think of will help me to give you my best possible guidance and help with him. Thanks, Patricia
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Relist: No answer yet.
I have not gotten an answer yet. If there is no answer by the end of the next 24 hours, I would like my deposit back.
Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.
Hello. I have sent you a reply, 15 minutes after you question was posted. I am asking for some additional information so that I can help you with your Grey. Did you not receive that request? Patricia
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Patricia's Post: Nothing has changed. His food consists of fruit flavored maintenance food, a mixture of all kinds of seeds, formulated for African Greys, fresh fruit and cheerios. Treats are peanuts (raw), fruit and honey sticks, 1 vanilla wafer a day, and sometimes a chicken bone. I don't think I have changed anything in the room. I did have a new floor installed but that was within the last month and he stopped talking about 3 months ago. He just gradually stopped talking. The last thing for him to give up was saying goodnight when I start turning the lights out. I take him out just about every evening. He loves to sit on the kitchen table and a tossed salad or pieces of potato while I cook dinner. He plays with the dog and also the cat, gives me kisses when I ask for them...everything he has always done except talk! I hope you can help me
Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.

Hello again. Thanks for that extra information. You still did not clarify his age for me so not knowing whether that is a possible factor or not, will limit me somewhat in my suggestions and advice. If he is 16-17 years or older, and if you are not sure of his origin, he may have been a wild caught, and imported bird. Unless you are positive of his origins, and/or you got him as a very young chick, then anything is possible. If there is any chance he was a wild caught bird, that opens up a huge list of additional concerns and possibilities. In general, anytime there is a major change in any behavior from our parrots, it's a big red flag to suspect a health issue. While that's no less important with a Grey, it can also be, for them, just a change in their attitude or mood. I probably have one of the most mouthy Greys ever, who usually talks my ears off all day, everyday. But he will have a day now and then where I will hear nothing at all from him. A short deviation from the norm, in his case, is not cause for concern. But if he were to stop talking and/or have any other kind of behavior change that lasted that long, he would have already been to the vet to rule out any physical or health issues. There are some things you mentioned that he gets that are not that good for him and could certainly be causing some health issues. I'll get to those in detail in a moment. Mostly it's things that are cumulative in the damage they do and he could have been feeling bad for quite a while. One of the problems we have with our parrots is their very strong instinct to mask all symptoms of illness or injury, from us. In the wild, they are prey and to show weakness is to get kicked out of the safety of the flock. By the time we see any symptoms, it's because they are too sick and too weak to keep up the pretense. A couple of the first things we will be able to notice is a change in behavior, (less playing, less or no talking, etc.), any change in the appearance of the droppings that lasts more than 24 hours and cannot be accounted for by diet. For example, a lot of fruits or veggies one day can make more runny droppings but it should not last more than a day, then go back to normal. Other symptoms are sitting with feathers fluffed, giving up the perches and staying on the cage floor, and sleeping an inordinate amount of time. For now, you need to make sure he does not get chilled and is not in any kind of draft, and keep alert for any of these other symptoms. Keep him as quiet and stress free as possible until you can get in to your avian vet. Because of the duration of his refusal to talk and the other diet things I'm going to cover for you, I'm strongly suggesting, at the least, a well bird check up just as soon as you can get an appointment. Just in case you don't have one, I'll give you links to help locate one. Another thing you may be aware of, but for just in case, I'm going to give you some links to information about the many dangerous and toxic things we may have in our houses that can be deadly to parrots. Most things we don't give a thought to because they are harmless to us and to our other pets. But with parrots, some things can kill them, almost within minutes; other things are cumulative and take longer but are just as fatal. Just to mention a few, any aerosol product, burning candles, strong cleaning products, an over heated piece of non stick cookware, using the cleaning cycle of a self cleaning oven, cigarette smoke, any kind of air freshener; the list goes on and on. Also many houseplants are toxic. If you aren't sure whether you have any dangerous items in your home, it would be good to print out these lists and keep them handy. If you should discover any product or item on these lists that you know for sure he may have been exposed to, make a list and be sure to tell the vet. It will be a huge help to them is cutting down on any tests they may run and on the diagnosis time needed. The more information we can give them so that they are not "shooting in the dark", the easier it is on both the bird and our wallets. Many of the things that cause health problems with parrots are basically pretty simple bacterial or fungal issues. Those are easily diagnosed with a check of a dropping sample and most can be effectively dealt with by no more than a 10 day course of oral antibiotics like Baytril or something similar. But only an Avian vet can tell you for sure and it's critical that we never try to home medicate a parrot without knowing what is going on.

Click here: Find your local Avian Veterinarian

Click here: Avian Veterinarians Recommended by Bird Breeders and Owners

Click here: Avian Vet List

Click here: BirdsnWays - Avian Veterinarians - Vets - Vet Services for Pet Parrots & Exotic Birds

This one looks like an advertisement for Harrison pellets but they are only sold by vets so it's another good list to check. Click here: Harrison's Bird Foods is a family of certified organic pet bird diets that were formulated to make your bird as he

Click here: Alerts Dangers and Toxins for Pet Birds Parrots

Click here: Toxic and Safe Plants/Trees for Birds - Household Poisons

Click here: Birdsnways - Safe Plants & Trees for pet birds, pet parrots &exotic birds

Potentially Toxic Plants

Toronto Humane Society :: Common Poisonous Plants

Now, for the specific things I see that could be a problem for him. Cherrios should be an occasional treat only and definitely not a regular part of his diet. That applies to anything else with any added sugar or salt. That hits on the Vanilla wafers as well. It's best if he doesn't have any at all but if you want to continue allowing them, you need to back way off on the amount. Break them in pieces and give him only about 1/4 of one each day or maybe two whole ones, twice a week, half of one, every third day, something like that. Raw peanuts are a huge no-no for parrots. We even have to be very careful of the roasted ones. BotXXXXX XXXXXne is peanuts are not good for them at all because they are very high in fat. They are another of those things that need to be an occasional treat and not a regular thing. When we do allow them, they must be human quality and they must be roasted. The inside of a peanut shell is at great risk of harboring the spores that cause Aspergillosis. An ugly disease and all efforts must be taken to protect them from exposure. Click here: Aspergillosis Fungal Infection in Birds Drumsticks and/or the arm bones from chicken wings are great for them and a super source of calcium. The only thing about that is you must be sure they are very well done, then most of the meat, and all of the fat and skin should be removed. They are just as susceptible to salmonella from under cooked chicken and eggs, as we humans are. A huge red flag went up for me when you mentioned his interaction with the dog and cat, and the kissing. Dog and cat saliva (especially the cat) has bacteria in it that is extremely dangerous for a bird to contact. Their saliva can be loaded with Pasteurella. They are in just as much danger if they have any contact with our own saliva. We all love to kiss our birds and I'd never suggest that you stop. Only that you make absolutely positive that all kisses are "dry" kisses. Don't let him make any contact with the inside of your mouth, your saliva and don't get any of it on his feathers because the minute he preens, he is ingesting any bacteria that may be there. Okay, I know I've given you a ton of information, links to check out, and things to absorb and explore as possibilities. The botXXXXX XXXXXne of all of it however, is a strongly urge you to get him in for that checkup. Don't wait untiil you see more symptoms. If in fact there is any one of these issue going on with him, he is going to be really sick by the time you see more. Let me know if I have not been clear with any of this, or if you have any more questions. Patricia

Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.
is there something additional you need or is there anything in my reply that you don't understand? I want to do whatever I can to be sure you are happy with your answer. Let me know if there is something else. Thanks, Patricia
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