Dogs can join the police force and monkeys are our fellow primates, but new research found that parrots might be the smartest animal of them all. A new study found that African Grey Parrots performed as well as three-year-old children on a mental test.
The test involved hiding pieces of walnut inside one of two containers. "One or both was then shaken and the birds, which are used to the idea of the containers holding treats, used their beak to upend the one with the hidden walnut 70 to 80 percent of the time," according to the Daily Mail.
The high success rate means that the birds were able to link the rattling sound to food -- and even more impressively, understand that when an empty container was shaken, it meant food was in the alternate box.
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"Such behaviour has so far been shown only in great apes but not in any other non-human animal," concluded researcher Dr. Christian Schloegl.
African Grey Parrot: Your comprehensive guide
What to expect from your African Grey Parrot
African grey parrots are extremely intelligent and alert; some may be high-strung. It is best to acquire these birds at a young age, because wild-caught individuals may have objectionable personalities and vocalizations. Selective breeding for calmness is being initiated by some aviculturists. There is a tendency for African greys to form a bond with an individual family member and become aggressive toward others, especially during the breeding season. They are believed to be emotionally sensitive and may be prone to remember negative experiences and associate these with certain people and objects. African grey parrots have the greatest potential among common pet bird species for a range of vocalizations and an increasing vocabulary throughout their lives. This mimicking ability can include sounds like dripping water, flushing toilets, squeaky doors, coughs or sneezes and answering machines.
Body length: 13 inches (33 cm)
Congo: 300-550 grams
Timneh: 275-375 grams
Age of sexual maturity: 3-6 years
Maximum life span: 50 years
Is your African Grey a male or a female?
In most African greys, it is difficult to distinguish a male from a female based on physical characteristics; therefore, endoscopy or laboratory methods must be used for sex determination in breeding facilities. African greys prefer to choose their own mates and bond for life. Once initiated, African greys are prolific breeders and the offspring are easy to hand-feed.
What do African Greys do all day?
Because of their high intelligence, African greys are easily bored and require attention. They are relatively playful and enjoy toys in their environment, especially "puzzle" types. Because they love to chew, all toys must be free of toxic metals, hooks, sharp objects, or small, easily consumed components. Providing chew toys or fresh-cut branches from nontoxic, pesticide-free trees is encouraged for African greys. Check with your veterinarian for recommendations on locally available safe trees.
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