Parakeets, or budgies as they are known in Europe, are one of the most popular species of pet bird in the world. Their quirky personalities and bright plumage make them appealing for bird enthusiasts and families. One of the most common questions asked of parakeet breeders is ‘how long do parakeets live?’ The answer to this question depends on the individual bird, such as their breeding, their nutrition and if they suffer with any medical issues. Read on to find out more!
What Is a Parakeet?
The term ‘parakeet’ refers to small and medium-sized parrot species. These species all have long tapered tails at least half the length of their body and a slender build. In Europe, Africa and Australia parakeets are referred to as budgies, but both terms are correct. The scientific name for parakeets refers to budgerigars, which most countries shorten to budgie, but parakeet is also accurate for these species.
Most pet bird species fall into the parakeet grouping. These birds are confident and hardy, so they make great pets, especially for families with children or people new to bird keeping.
Interestingly, not all parrots are parakeets. Cockatiels, lovebirds and lorikeets belong to a different family. They all have short, blunt tails, although they all share similar bright plumage and a need for attention. So if you are thinking about getting this bird as a pet, you should know how long parakeets live for.
Lifespan of Wild Parakeets vs Pet Parakeets
There are many species of parakeet found all over the world, from North and South America, across Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Anywhere with a sub-tropical or tropical climate makes a great habitat for parakeets to live in.
Australia has the most diverse population, with more than 30 parakeet species thriving there. The Americas are not far behind with 27 known parakeet species making their home there.
Most parakeets live in humid environments where there is a good amount of rainfall and dense forests, although a small number of parakeet species are found in desert regions.
In the wild, parakeets have a lifespan of 7-15 years depending on the species. Wild parakeets have to contend with predators, severe weather conditions and human disturbance. Pet parakeets usually live for between 10 to 20 years depending how well their owners look after them.
The lifespan for pet parakeets is higher due to a more stable environment, easy access to food and medical care. They are also not at risk of predation.
Parakeet Social Behaviour
Parakeets are social animals and do well in pairs or small groups. A single parakeet will thrive if they are given regular attention from their owner. Many bird keepers will have a small bachelor group of all males or all females, or a breeding pair.
Parakeets will groom each other and fly together, with some forming strong bonds. The same is true for single parakeets who become close to their owners. Many parakeets will follow their owners around the house and sit with them to watch tv.
This is important as a lonely parakeet will quickly become sick. One of the most telling signs that a parakeet is stressed is loss of feathers. They will begin to drop their feathers until they resemble a tiny, plucked chicken.
Stressed or anxious parakeets are also prone to illness and infection. So it is vital that they receive proper care and attention if you want your parakeets to live to a ripe old age.
Parakeets require flying space so bird owners should provide an outdoor aviary or a safe indoor space for their birds to stretch their wings without risk of injury. This helps to keep the birds fit and healthy, while also maintaining good muscle strength in their wings. This is another measure you should take that will determine how long your parakeets live for.
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Nesting & Breeding
Parakeets are nest builders, preferring tree cavities to construct a safe place to rest and lay their eggs. This is why experts recommend providing your parakeet a nesting box or covering their cage at night.
In the wild, parakeets breed in large colonies, often numbering in the hundreds. However, some colonies can contain thousands of individuals. Nests are typically 3-5 metres apart in Eucalyptus trees or hollow logs and will be lined with grasses, leaves and feathers.
There is no clear distinguishing feature between male and female parakeets. During breeding, females will develop a dull brown skin around their bill.
Parakeets do not have a set breeding season, but instead will breed whenever there are plentiful food resources to eat and at least 10 hours of daylight. Although parakeets live in large colonies, these bright birds are generally monogamous and will remain together throughout the breeding and rearing process.
The female will lay a clutch of 3-5 eggs which will be laid 1 or 2 days apart. The female will incubate the eggs for 18 days until they hatch. Parakeet chicks are born bald and blind, requiring their mother to keep them warm.
The male does not help much with rearing but he will protect the nest from threats such as other birds looking for a nesting sight. He will call to the female if he spots a predator. He will also bring food for his partner.
Once the chicks reach weaning age at 3-4 weeks old, the male takes over parenting duties. His job is to show the chicks how to forage and which foods to eat. Parakeet chicks are ready to leave the nest at 1 month old.
Threats & Conservation
Parakeets are not listed on the IUCN red list of endangered species. They are a successful group due to their hardy nature and easy breeding cycles.
The biggest threats that parakeets face is habitat loss due to wild fires and human encroachment. Parakeets are a prey animal so they also need to be able to avoid predators such as birds of prey, foxes and snakes.
There are currently no conservation projects for parakeets as there are no vulnerable wild populations.
In summary, if you want your pet parakeets to live longer, make sure to give them enough attention if you have just a single bird. Also ensure they have ample space to stretch their wings to maintain their muscle mass. At the end of the day, we want them to be with us for many years to come.
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