Country of Origin: West Africa
Size:23 cm long
Weight: 120-170 grams
Also known as: Sennies
Lifespan: 25-50 years
Best Suited as: Single Pet
Senegal Parrots are small pets with big personality. They are becoming increasingly popular in Australia and can be found in most American and European pet shops.
There are three subspecies of Senegal parrots. The sole difference between them is the color of their “vest”. The most popular pet is the nominate subspecies called P. s. Senegalus, which sports a yellow vest. Subspecies P. s. Mesotypus, has an orange vest and Subspecies P. s. Versteri, has a red vest.
Mature Senegals have grey heads, grey beaks, and green wings, back and chests. They have yellow under parts and short broad yellow tails. Senegals are born with dark grey eyes that lighten and then turn gold after a year.
While Senegals are “monomorphic” (both sexes are identical in color) there are some slight difference between male and female Senegals. First, the V-shape of the vest is usually longer in females than in the males. In males, the tip of the “V” ends midway down the chest, where in females, the tip extends all the way down between their legs. Second, males generally exhibit larger and thicker beaks than their female counterparts. Finally, female Senegals tend to be smaller and lighter than the males.
Senegals are popular pets due to their comical and intelligent nature. They can be equally energetic and mellow, depending on their mood. If they are well tamed and socialized, they will interact well with all family members. If they become overly attached to one family member, they may be less willing to play nice with everyone else. At their worst, Senegals can become very jealous, territorial and aggressive. They can also develop phobias; pluck their feathers, bite and scream. It is best for your Senegal to be an only child (no other pets).
Well cared for Senegals are capable of learning large vocabularies and complex tricks. They easily mimic sounds and words but they tend to be quieter than other parrots. They communicate mostly in high-pitched whistles and squawks. Anyone considering adopting a pet Senegal needs to be prepared to handle and play with their bird every day.
Pet Senegals should be offered a wide assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, and high quality pellets. Some bird enthusiasts recommend that more than half of their diet should consist of pellets with less seeds and nuts. Others strongly advocate for mostly fresh foods such as apples, grapes and carrots. Care must be taken not to feed your Sennie fruit seeds, chocolate, alcohol or caffeine as they can cause serious health issues. Their filtered, non-chlorinated water needs to be changed daily.
Owners should provide a bird-safe play area for their Senegal outside of their cages. Senegals need at least one hour of this free type of playtime, and value even longer periods.
The more time your Senegal spends in the cage during the day, the larger a cage you will need. The minimum size for an indoor cage should be approximately 61 cm wide, 61 cm deep by 1 m high. Their cage should have metal bars spaced no greater than 1.27 cm apart. Their cage should be placed off the floor and away from drafts, in a well-lit area. They do not do well with extreme temperature change but acclimate quickly to minor temperature changes. Their cages should contain at least one perch 23 cm long and 1.27 cm in diameter. Additional perches are recommended to help prevent arthritis.
Sennies love to climb and swing and they appreciate a cage full of swings, ladders, and other interesting toys. Make sure their cage and perches are cleaned and disinfected regularly that you replace their cage liner weekly.
Senegals tend to be healthy birds but there are some minor issues that may arise. If you see your pet wheezing or coughing, favoring one foot, sitting on the floor of their cage, or not eating, call your veterinarian. Fluffed, plucked or soiled feathers, runny stools and eye or nasal discharge are also signs that your bird needs medical attention. By instinct, Senegals will conceal signs of illness to keep them from looking weak. This is truly detrimental for an owner who is not tuned it to their pet because their bird is often extremely ill before they notice there is a problem.
Suitability as a Pet
If you are looking for a long-term companion of the feathered variety and you do not have other pets (or other family members – even better!) this may be a match made in heaven. The Senegal often forms very strong attachments with one person and may have a difficulty sharing your attention. If you live with a larger family, it is very important that you properly socialize your bird with every family member (that is old enough to properly handle them), as quickly as possible.
Carve out a good amount of time daily to devote to your Sennie – they lavish the time with you.
Also, invest in a variety of toys and accessories, including wooden perches for chewing on. Resist the temptation to buy another pet Senegal to keep your Sennie company or from purchasing two at once. The outcome is rarely good – you will likely deal with parrot to parrot aggression or they will ignore you altogether, focusing only on each other.
Some Senegals can be sensitive to changes in their environment and are easily frightened by loud noises. Keep your Senegal away from noisy areas and chaotic environments. Although they do make some noise, Senegal are more popular parrots among apartment owners than noisier bird relatives. Sleep is also important for your pet – they should have at least 10 hours of darkness and quiet.
All parrots resort to biting when they are frustrated, scared or jealous.They exhibit several signs such as pining their eyes or puffing up their feathers prior to biting (or attempting to bite). If you find your Senegal developing bad behaviors such as biting, it is best to consult a professional.