If you are a novice pet parakeet owner (or a prospective one) there’s no doubt that you’ll have a ton of questions about their characteristics, including their lifespan and what impacts their longevity. We’ll cover a variety of different factors that affect their lifespan in this article while covering important questions along the way.
What’s a parakeet?
Let’s be sure we’re all on the same page when we start talking about Parakeets. The word parakeet is used to describe over 115 species of birds. Birds included in this group are small to medium-sized species of parrots that are seed-eating, have a slim build, and have long graduated tails.
Because parakeet is a word that describes so many different species the question of how long they live is actually quite nuanced. Budgerigars (budgies for short) are a subclass of parakeets that hails from Australia. Budgies, or commonly referred to in the USA as parakeets, are the third most popular pet in the world, behind cats and dogs. No doubt it’s because of their pleasant nature, non-destructive nature, and ability to build up impressive vocabularies.
Though the budgie is the most popular there are many different species of parakeets. Just to give you a sense here are a few parakeet species:
- Turquoisine grass parakeets
- Splendid grass parakeets
- Rosella parakeets
- Ring-necked parakeets
- Plum-headed parakeets
- Fiery-shouldered parakeets
- Sun conures
- Monk parakeets
- Moustached parakeets
- and many, many, more!
Lifespans of parakeet species
So how long do parakeets live and what’s their average lifespan?
The lifespan of a parakeet can vary between 5 and 30 years, with the average being 15 years. The variability in parakeet longevity is significantly impacted by a variety of factors including health, life in captivity versus the wild, diet, and nutrition. The life expectancy of parakeet species (more than 100) differs greatly. The budgie is up to 10 years on average, while the psittacula can be greater than 30 years.
The average lifespans of different species of parakeets are:
|Budgerigar (Budgie)||Up to 10 years|
|Plain parakeet||Up to 15 years|
|Rosella parakeets||Up to 20 years|
|Sun conures||Up to 20 years|
|Indian ring-necked parakeet||Up to 30 years|
|Alexandrine parakeet||Up to 30 years|
|Psittacula||Greater than 30 years|
Even these figures can vary, depending on the care you give your bird; It could even exceed its life expectancy. The Guinness world record for the longest a parakeet was found to live is 29 years and two months!
Are budgies different than a parakeet?
We’ve covered it already but let’s be sure we’re clear about whether the budgerigar is different than a parakeet.
The budgerigar or budgie is a parakeet so they aren’t different per se. The nuance is that the word parakeet is used to describe a much larger set of bird species (greater than 100). While the word budgie describes a species of parakeet, the Australian parakeet. The Australian parakeet was first brought to Europe in the mid 1800s.
How long do parakeets live as pets versus in the wild?
Parakeets have shorter and more stressful lives in their native habitat. They have to compete for food, bear rough environmental conditions, and save themselves from predators. Thus they are more likely to fall sick or be captured by a predator, and not reach their maximum potential lifespan.
Parakeets that live in captivity don’t have to worry about predators and, given a friendly environment and proper nutrition, tend to live longer.
How do I keep my parakeet healthy?
That’s a great question. There’s no doubt that while your parakeet can enjoy a long and healthy life in captivity, it’s going to require your continued care and attention.
Diet and nutrition
Proper diet and nutrition ensure that your bird lives longer and healthier. Parakeets should be fed specially formulated food for their species, along with fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds, grains, and nuts. You must also ensure that it is a balanced diet, i.e. it has the proper ratio of required nutrients.
The cage size should not be restrictive. It should be big enough for the parakeet to spread its wings, climb, and hop around. It should also be airy and bright, with a nice view. Generally, bigger is better.
Be sure the bar spacing is small enough that their head can’t become stuck between the bars. Ensure the welds are smooth and don’t contain any sharp edges or burrs that could inadvertently harm your parakeet.
Make sure you add some bird-proof toys to the cage and multiple perches at different heights. You can also add some swings – your bird will love rocking away on it. This will keep your bird occupied and happy, otherwise, it might start plucking out its feathers if it becomes bored.
Maintaining a relatively calm environment is important for your parakeet. Loud noises, flashing lights, other pets, and many other factors can contribute to your parakeets stress levels.
The lifespan of a parakeet will also depend on how hygienic its living conditions are. Keep the cage very clean. Wash your hands before you touch your parakeet and avoid touching it at all when you are ill. Offering your parakeet the opportunity to “shower” with water daily is a great way to maintain body hygiene. Keep an eye on their toenails as they may need to be periodically trimmed.
The lighting around the cage should be natural and bright. But make sure the cage is not kept in direct sunlight either as too much exposure to the sun can also be harmful.
That said your parakeet does require access to ultraviolet light in order to naturally produce vitamin D in their skin. Just be sure to talk to a seasoned pro or veterinarian about this as you don’t want to over do it. Reptile lights as an example are not appropriate and could seriously harm your friend.
Dedicate a big space in your house where your parakeet can be let out of its cage and be allowed to fly about. But, make sure to completely bird proof that area, removing sharp edges, keeping them clear of any moving appliances like fans, covering containers with fluid, and removing any surfaces which are unstable or too warm or too cold, etc. Make sure your other pets, if you have any, don’t wander anywhere near your bird. Offering your friend an opportunity to explore and fly is wonderful, just be sure it’s done safely. Depending on your environment, it may not be appropriate.
How do I know if my parakeet is healthy?
Keeping your parakeet healthy is key. You’re following the principles the best you can but how do you really know if they’re healthy. Parakeets can be infected by diseases, and birds are said to be notorious for hiding their ailments. The risk of catching diseases such as Avian Bornavirus, Psittacosis, Psittacine beak, and feather disease, and a range of other microbial infections is always there and increases with age.
The four key steps to ensuring health and longevity in your parakeet are:
- Provide a healthy, clean, and safe environment.
- Provide nutritious food and clean water.
- Annual veterinary visits to a qualified avian veterinarian.
- Be observant!
Ask yourself, does my parakeet look happy and healthy? For the most part assuming you’ve been observant you’ll know the answer to this. Birds under happy and healthy circumstances are terrific at grooming themselves. So assuming you’ve purchased a healthy parakeet and you’re following the first three steps above, the next step is to watch for changes.
If your parakeet starts exhibiting symptoms like weight loss, obesity, discharge, rough breathing, sneezing, and unusual behavior something isn’t right. See a professional!
How do I know if my parakeet is in pain or unhealthy?
Put on your detective hat and look for changes and differences. It’s really the only way to know if your parakeet might be in pain. Think about the following list of questions:
- Has their behavior changed?
- Are they sleeping more than normal?
- Do they have the same level of energy?
- Have they become more aggressive?
- Do you hear new sounds, perhaps clicking from their beak?
- Do they now allow you to touch them when before they didn’t (or vice versa)?
- Are they sleeping in a different position than normal? Perhaps on the cage floor with feathers puffed.
- Is there any discharge coming from their beak?
- Are they favoring a leg? Do their legs, toenails, beaks look normal?
- Do you notice any discharges in the cage that aren’t normal? Do you see vomit?
- Do you notice any changes in smell?
- Is there any sign of blood?
- Do their eyes look healthy? No scratches and no cloudiness?
Again if your spidey sense is tingling, there’s a good chance something isn’t right, and seeking out an avian vet for confirmation is a great idea.
What do parakeets usually die from?
Parakeets unfortunately can die from a variety of causes including:
- Old age
- Parrot fever
- Parakeet sneezing
- Parakeet candidiasis
- Poor care
- Lead poisoning due to eating things they shouldn’t e.g. paint chips
- Small wound becoming infected and leading to blood poisoning
- Ceiling fans
Parakeet health and wellness questions
How long do Parakeets live without food?
It’s important that parakeets eat daily. Parakeets do not require set feeding times and instead simply require a readily available food source. Depriving your Parakeet of food for 48 hours is enough to cause them to starve to death so be absolutely sure that they are regularly cared for.
Checking on their food levels in the morning and at night is an optimal way to ensure your friend has an ample food supply. If you have the budget, automatic feeders can be a great way to ease your mind over not missing regular feedings. But those feeders have to be topped up so you’ll still need to be vigilant.
How long do Parakeets live without water?
Just because you may not notice your Parakeet drinking water that doesn’t mean they aren’t. In principle, a Parakeet could go without water for 24 – 48 hours but avoid this. It’s highly important to ensure that your Parakeet has access to a fresh and clean supply of water.
Be sure to check their water levels regularly, morning and night when you’re checking on their food, is ideal. As with all pets, it’s a great idea to have a sense of your friend’s habits and baseline behaviors, that way you can detect changes early and obtain veterinary help if needed.
How long do Parakeets sleep?
Parakeets need their rest and sleep with their eyes closed (surprise, surprise). You may find them sleeping on one leg to conserve body heat, or with their heads tucked for more comfort. Either way, Parakeets typically sleep for 10 to 12 hours per day. Be mindful that noise, light, and temperature can really impact a Parakeet’s ability to rest so be sure to provide them with plenty of opportunities to recharge their batteries.
Can parakeets die from loneliness?
Parakeets can die from loneliness. They are not an animal that naturally lives in isolation. It’s important that you provide the interaction and bonding that your parakeet needs. You can accomplish this by providing love and care, and ensuring you engage with them in a positive way.
Another potential impact of isolation is that your Parakeet may be at higher risk of disease. If you have a pair of Parakeets not only do they have an opportunity to enliven each other’s lives they can also groom one another. Maintaining good feather and skin health is a key element of Parakeet health.
How old is my parakeet?
Hmm, that’s a tough one, have you tried asking? No, of course not that would be rude. Never ask a Parakeet their age. Seriously though here’s a couple of observations you can make:
- Inspect their eyes. Parakeets having no difference in color between their pupil and iris (i.e. both black) are likely under 4 months old. As they age their iris will become lighter. If you see a difference in color it’s likely they are at least 8 months old. Just be careful of mind control as you’re gazing deeply.
- Take a look at the pattern on their head or cap feathers. Do you see stripes? Well, those stripes are still there because it has yet to complete its first molt. Is it a solid color? The first molt is behind your Parakeet and they’re older than 3 to 4 months.