Parrots can live for several decades. Each individual African Grey Parrot lifespan will depend on whether they are wild or captive, on their general health and on how well captive Parrots are cared for. To fully answer the question ‘how long do parrots live’ we’ll also be looking at why, on average, parrots live longer in the wild. And we’ll be giving you some great tips for helping your African Grey Parrot to have a long and healthy life.
- How long do African Grey Parrots live
- How diet affects African Grey Parrot lifespan
- Feeding your Parrot for longevity
- The impact of UV light on Parrot life expectancy
- The importance of housing for long life in Parrots
- Your African Grey Parrot
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!
More great parrot articles
- Indian Ringneck Parrot
- DIY Parrot Toys – Simple, Fun, And Easy To Make Ideas
- Choosing African Grey Parrot Food – Healthy Diets for Happy Birds!
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.
My African Grey Walter is 22 years old. He eats an egg in the morning, a chicken leg at night, bananas and cateloupe every day. Plus seeds etc to munch on during the day. Out of the cage all day-plays or forages in my wall unit where I have toys and cardboard boxes set up for him to bite and hide in. Never picked any of his feathers-ever. Vet says he is in perfect health and will live another 40 years.
Wait…. you seriously feed your bird eggs and chicken? Not judging, but is that healthy? Did your vet say it’s ok?
I give mine chicken & eggs & she loves it !!
we just lost our beloved grey of 22 years . Darby died suddenly of kidney failure . he was so loved and well taken care of, just like any member of our family . we’re crushed and don’t understand what could have happened .. fed well, large cage . all the comforts of home .. regular flying around the room too : (
My african grey died 13 Sept he was ok only thing I noticed was he was talking alot none stop I said goodnight see you in the morning he said see you later lol I went to bed and then went and got a drink an hr later I looked in his cage with light off and didn’t see him so turned light on and saw he was at the bottom of his cage dead unbelievable I miss him so much he was 22 morgan RIP son
My grey is 29. We recently had a strange experience with her. I noticed she couldn’t poop. I was really worried that she had gotten into something and was obstructed; however, it turned out that she was egg bound. Even the Vet was surprised. Egg bound at 29. She had the surgery to remove the eggs (there were two) and she is fine now. This presents a new problem; now we can’t leave her with my granddaughter because it seems as though she has fallen in love with her husband and this is what caused the the hormone stimulation and the egg production.
We got our grey 42 years ago on semester break from college in Florida. She recently had a visit to the emergency vet. She has congestive heart failure and an enlarged liver but is home on 5 medications – twice a day by syringe. She is more like herself with the meds but sleeps a bit more. We also found out that she has bilateral cateracts and stiff knees. It sucks to get old.
Our Toby is 28! Had him since he was 6 months old!
Our Timneh Grey died at 26, had him since he was 5 months old. Only signs were his poop became very watery, missing almost all the white and the green. This happened once before about 3 years before and someone told us he probably got a bad batch of seed, so I changed the seed—problem solved immediately. So when this happened again I was in the process of changing the seed, but it didn’t seem to help. Other than the watery poop there was no change in his behavior so we did not think it was that serious. But the poop concerned me and we were ready to take him to the vet when my husband got Covid and we had to wait until quarantine was over. The very Sunday quarantine ended he actually looked sick for the first time. Rushed in into ER Sunday morning, left him overnight, got a call near midnight saying he died. We were devastated to say the least. Autopsy said Kidney failure. Vet said even if we’d brought him in 2 or 3 weeks before they could not have saved him. His diet was a bit of everything, seed, pellets, beans, he wasn’t a huge veggie fan but loved peas, corn, mashed potatoes of any kind, plus whatever we ate that was safe for him to have. Had a a huge Macaw size cage but he was only in it if we were not home. Had the run of the house. I have no non-stick anything. He did like a small piece of cookie at night and would ask for it. I had hope he didn’t outlive me, but thought I’d at least have another 20 years with him until we were in our 80’s!
My grey is 43 yrs old and I’ve had him since he was a year old, as his eyes were just changing. He was one of the last imports from Africa.