Parakeets live for five to eight years in captivity, and often longer if well cared for.
Obesity and inbreeding are common causes of shorter than average lifespans.
But there are plenty of things parakeet owners can do to help their birds enjoy extra years!
The Life of a Parakeet
The term ’parakeet’ refers to the Australian budgerigar (a.k.a. “budgie”, Melopsittacus undulatus). This is one of the smallest parrot species and a very popular pet.
Parakeets are easier to keep than larger parrot species. But understanding their special needs is still important.
Many other small to medium parrot species are also considered parakeets. However, those are not the focus of this article.
Aging and Average Lifespan of the Parakeet
A parakeet is often mature at the age of one year and is expected to live five to eight years.
Although, they have the capacity to live considerably longer under ideal conditions.
However, many common health problems, such as obesity, can shorten their lives.
Highly inbred or larger “exhibition-quality” birds may have shorter lifespans too.
Wild Parakeet Lifespan
In the wild, a budgerigar usually lives around five years.
Moreover, despite being an abundant species in their native Australia, populations are declining.
In contrast, they have the potential to become an invasive species. And now, there are established parakeet populations in New Zealand and Florida.
How Long Do Parakeets Live as Pets?
Birds live about three times longer than other mammals of the same size.
Although interestingly, smaller species usually have faster metabolisms and shorter lives than larger ones.
In this way, at only 30–40 grams in size, parakeets have a shorter life expectancy than most parrot species.
However, there is limited objective data on the lifespan of pet parakeets.
Experts report an average lifespan of around seven years. But these birds can live as long as 29 years.
Parakeet Life Cycle
Parakeets can breed at about six months of age. But it’s best to wait until 12 months of age when they are fully mature.
They lay eggs in clutches of 3-5 and leave the nest after a month and a half.
Adult patterns of plumage develop around four months of age.
Parakeets tend to be robust and vigorous until the age of around 7 years. This is when they may slow down.
And unfortunately, become more prone to age-related disorders like arthritis.
How to tell if your Parakeets is getting old
Aging parakeets show slower movements and are generally less robust.
As such, they show more signs of stress when they get too cold. In addition, they take longer to recover after molting.
Age-related diseases in this species include
- cancer (neoplasia)
Therefore, older parakeets should be looked after more carefully. Be sure to avoid exposing your pet parakeet to cool temperatures.
And it’s a good idea to provide nutritional supplements if needed.
Factors Affecting Parakeet Life Expectancy
There are a few different factors that may affect how long your parakeet lives.
While parakeets are generally robust, they can become easily stressed by unexpected changes in their environment.
Similarly, they may reject new food. And tend to panic when confronted with unfamiliar objects or individuals too quickly.
It’s best to socialize your bird at a young age. You could do this by introducing them to different people, toys, food, and experiences.
This will help them to cope with—and maybe even enjoy—a wider range of experiences later in life. Without experiencing stress and stress-related health problems.
Parakeets should be fed according to their energy levels. Also, make sure to give them ample opportunities to exercise.
Moreover, excess weight will increase their risk of heart disease, tumors, and diabetes.
Illness and Disease
Apart from this, parrot species can contract a range of bacterial and viral diseases. So, it’s important to monitor them closely and regularly.
Also, take them to a qualified avian veterinarian for a wellness and preventive health exam once or twice a year.
Avian veterinary medicine continues to advance and many health conditions parakeets are susceptible to can be successfully treated.
Consider purchasing veterinary health insurance to make sure you are able to provide any veterinary care that may be needed.
Preventive care will also avoid the development of problems with parasites such as lice.
To maximize their life expectancy feed your parakeet high-quality food. But make sure it is formulated for their species.
Plus, you can also supplement this with fresh vegetables.
Parakeet Lifespan and Disease
Exposure to diseases can dramatically reduce your bird’s life expectancy. These include
- avian bornavirus
- psittacine beak and feather disease.
Avoid these by not introducing your pet to any new birds that have not been tested for these infectious diseases.
Also, it’s best to avoid using products or materials that may have been in contact with wild birds.
A range of other bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and infectious yeasts can make parakeets sick.
However, you can minimize the risk by cleaning the cage or aviary regularly. Also, keep your bird in good health by supporting a strong immune systems.
Be sure to consult a veterinarian promptly if you notice any signs of illness such as
- abnormal feces
- listless behavior with fluffed feathers.
As parakeets are small with a rapid metabolism, these illnesses can quickly become serious.
Parakeet Lifespan and Cancer
A range of different tumors is known to occur in budgies. Avoiding obesity can help prevent some of these, such as lipomas.
Not all tumors are easy to spot. But they will likely impact your bird’s behavior and overall health.
Early detection increases the chances of successful treatment.
Parakeets Lifespan and Injury
Parakeets that receive cuts or scrapes may develop septicemia (blood poisoning). So, avoid sharp edges in their enclosure.
Cuts and scratches should be treated with antibiotics as directed by a veterinarian.
Increasing Your Parakeet’s Lifespan
There are many things you can do to increase your parakeet’s lifespan.
Selecting Your Parakeet
Select a parakeet from a healthy line that is not overly inbred. It may be instructive to ask about the longevity of closely related birds.
Also, ask to see them if possible.
Larger “show-quality” birds often have shorter lifespans than smaller “pet-type” parakeets.
Good nutrition and ensuring plenty of exercising is the best recipe for long life.
Ensure food is frequently available and water should be always available. Plus, make sure to change water at least daily.
Parakeets have a rapid metabolism and cannot tolerate fasting.
Furthermore, poor nutrition could shorten your bird’s life through obesity, liver disease, and other mechanisms.
Use the largest cage or aviary practicable.
Provide furniture and toys and interact with your bird gently and regularly.
Higher activity levels help prevent disorders such as the build-up of unhealthy skin on their feet (pododermatitis).
Like humans, parakeets need some exposure to ultraviolet light, preferably regular exposure to direct natural sunlight to produce vitamin D.
Being kept in pairs or groups is also beneficial.
Birds are more active and less stressed if they know they have the support of their flock.
Some people prefer solo birds because they are thought to be tamer and more likely to learn to mimic human language.
However, it is more important to consider your bird’s well-being, especially if they will be left alone for most of the day.
Engage with your birds in an enjoyable way. Encourage their mimicking behavior so they develop a friendly relationship with you and their cage-mates.
Bathing and Healthcare
You should also offer opportunities to bath and surfaces that with naturally wear down your birds’ claws and beak.
This natural body maintenance promotes better health and avoids the stress caused by manual cleaning or trimming.
Beak overgrowth may indicate a health problem. Therefore, beak trimming should only be performed by a veterinarian.
Leaving claws with a good point to them helps the bird perch in a natural and secure posture and reduces stress on their tiny bodies.
Birds have extremely sensitive lungs. So avoid exposing them to any kind of smoke, aerosols, or fragrances.
Be aware of any sudden changes in your birds’ behavior or appearance. And if you notice something unusual, taken them to an avian veterinarian straight away.
Common health problems in parakeets can be delayed or avoided through good care and prompt treatment.
How Long Do Pet Parakeets Live?
The parakeet you are most likely to see is the smaller, sleeker pet line.
These are preferable and have the life expectancy discussed in this article of around seven years, on average.
How Long Do Exhibit or Show Line Parakeets Live?
In bird shows, there is a preference for much larger bird often over 55 grams in weight.
While impressive to see, these birds are less active and have shorter lives.
Show birds are estimated to live for around five years. That’s two years shorter than for pet birds.
Oldest Living Parakeet
The 1995 Guinness book of world records a budgerigar called Charlies lived for over 29 years.
Parakeet Lifespan Summary
You can expect a well-cared-for parakeet to live longer than seven years.
A well-bred bird kept under good conditions may live into his or her teens or even twenties.
Parakeets are less demanding to keep compared to other parrot species. But still have a range of special needs.
They prefer a warm climate, social housing, and a varied diet that meets their species-specific needs. And an active but not overly stressful lifestyle is best for these birds.
If you recreate these conditions for your bird, you’ll have an engaging and relatively long-lived pet that will bring a lot of joyful activity to your home.
How old is your Parakeet? Let us know in the comments below!
References and Further Reading
Austad SN. 2011. Candidate bird species for use in aging research. ILAR journal.
Grant R, Montrose V, & Wills A. 2017. ExNOTic: Should we be keeping exotic pets? Animals.
Baker JR. 1996. Causes of mortality and morbidity in exhibition budgerigars in the United Kingdom. Veterinary record.
Holmes DJ & Austad SN. 1995. Birds as animal models for the comparative biology of aging: a prospectus. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.
Lightfoot TL. 2010. Geriatric psittacine medicine. The veterinary clinics of North America: Exotic animal practice.
McDonald Kinkaid HY. 2015. Species-level determinants of stereotypic behaviour, reproductive success, and lifespan in captive parrots (Psittaciformes). University of Guelph (Doctoral dissertation).
Munshi-South J & Wilkinson GS. 2010. Bats and birds: exceptional longevity despite high metabolic rates. Ageing research reviews.
Rahaman MM. 2015. Prospects and Rearing Status of Common Pet Bird in Bangladesh. Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Khulshi.
Schnegg A et al. 2007. Feeding behaviour and daily energy expenditure of domesticated budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus): Influence of type of housing and vertical position of the feeder. Applied animal behaviour science.