Before you bring home an African grey parrot, it’s natural to want to know about African grey parrot lifespan.
After all you are dedicating yourself to caring for them for the rest of their life.
To properly make such a commitment, you need to know how long you can expect your bird to live.
Plus, we all want our pets to live as long as they possibly can.
Learning about the factors that contribute to the African grey parrot life expectancy can help you ensure that your bird lives as long as possible.
So let’s find out – how long do African grey parrots live?
How Long Do African Grey Parrots Live?
The African grey parrot is actually two different subspecies – the Congo African grey parrot and the Timneh African grey parrot.
To the untrained eye, these two subspecies look very similar.
They both live for the same amount of time, and African grey parrot lifespan does not appear to vary much between the two species.
Both subspecies can live an average of 50 years in captivity.
In the wild, they can live up to 80 years, though one particular parrot is known to have reached the grand old age of 90!
Many pet owners are confused as to why African grey parrot expectancy is shorter in captivity than it is in the wild. Especially when the opposite is true for nearly every other species.
However, there are a number of factors that contribute to African grey parrots dying in captivity sooner than they would in the wild.
African Grey Parrot Lifespan – The Impact of Malnutrition
One of the biggest factors is nutrition.
Many African grey parrots are fed improper diets, which lead to them either getting too much of something they don’t need, not enough of something they do, or even both.
In the wild, African grey parrots are foragers and therefore eat a wide variety of foods.
In any given day, an African grey parrot normally consumes a wide variety of seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and vegetables.
Many commercial seed-based diets are not sufficient for your parrot’s nutrition and can lead to vitamin A deficiency, calcium deficiency, and hypocalcemia.
African grey parrots are at particular risk for hypocalcemia, which can cause seizures.
An unbalanced or irregular diet can cause or exacerbate reproductive disorders, feather problems, and infections.
Your bird’s immune response can easily become diminished with an improper diet, which can cause various other diseases to take hold easily.
Feeding your Parrot For Longevity – Getting it Right
Instead of seed-based diets, you should give your African grey parrot pellets with a large particle size instead.
These pellets should comprise around three quarters of your parrot’s diet.
The remainder should be mainly fresh fruit and vegetables, and a little lean protein such as cooked eggs, chicken or turkey.
Our article on the best African grey parrot foods will help you navigate the right track.
African Grey Parrot Lifespan – Shedding Light on the Role of UV-B
Another reason that captive African grey parrots tend to die prematurely is due to improper housing and lighting.
Most obviously, these birds are huge!
They require a lot of room to move around and flap their wings, which is sadly not provided by many owners.
African grey parrots also require UV-B light. This must be provided with a special bulb as windows block much of the sun’s natural UV-B light.
Failing to provide your parrot with UV-B light may lead to hypocalcemia. Which in turn can lead to secondary infection, seizures, and long-term damage to your bird’s feathers.
However, these bulbs can be somewhat expensive and must regularly be changed.
Many owners do not realize how important they are to their bird’s health and opt to not purchase the light in an effort to save money.
Other owners might purchase a UV-B light but not change it as often as they should.
UV-B lighting, though, is absolutely essential to an African grey parrot’s health and can contribute to an early death if not provided.
African Grey Parrot Life Expectancy – Housing
Besides being in too small of a cage and not being provided with UV-B light, African grey parrots can also suffer if they are housed in the wrong location.
African grey parrots simply must be housed in a well-ventilated, draft-free area. Because of their natural climates, these birds do not handle the cold well at all.
Drafts and cold areas can easily lead to sickness and infections.
Furthermore, African grey parrots must be kept away from your kitchen.
Nonstick cookware is lethal to these bird’s respiratory system. Exposure to the air from a heated, nonstick pan can kill a bird in only a couple days.
Furthermore, any object that includes a nonstick surface such as irons, ironing boards, and heat lamps can cause the same effect and should be kept away from your bird as well.
African Grey Parrot Life Expectancy
Captive African grey parrot lifespan is usually around 50 years, though a parrot could live up to 90 years if given proper care and housing.
Sadly, many African grey parrots are not cared for properly. This makes their lifespan in captivity far lower than it is in the wild.
Hopefully this article has provided you with some fresh insight into your parrot’s lifespan and the factors that play into it.
Now go give your bird the longest life possible!
How Old Is Your African Grey Parrot?
Is your pet parrot more than 50 years old?
What do you attribute their longevity to?
Tell us about your long-lived avians in the comments box!
And if you’re bringing one into your family, take a look at our parrot name ideas!
References and Further Reading
Stanford, Michael. “The Effect of UV-B Lighting Supplementation in African Grey Parrots.” The International Conference on Exotics. 2004.
Mayer, Joerg. “Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) Toxicity.” Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Birds and Exotic Pets. 2012.
Kalmer. “Apparent nutrient digestibility and excreta quality in African grey parrots fed two pelleted diets based on coarsely or finely ground ingredients.” Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. 2007.
McDonald, Lawrence. “Hypocalcemic seizures in an African grey parrot.” The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 1988.
Schoemaker. “Nutrition-related problems in pet birds.” Tijdschrift Voor Diergeneeskunde. 1999.