Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Ali Shahid
Parrots are famous for their impressive cognitive abilities and living for a very long time. Among birds, they hold the record for being the oldest, with certain parrot types like cockatoos and Amazonian parrots even reaching the ripe age of 75 or more, according to ScienceFocus.
Generally speaking, birds tend to live longer than mammals of similar size, and parrots often match or even exceed the lifespans of larger birds, as well as those of birds of their own size, says LiveScience.
In this article, we’ll delve into what makes parrots live so long, considering factors like their brain size, metabolism, and other important aspects.
3 Reasons why Parrots live so Long
1. Brain size
Parrots live long lives, and one reason is their relatively big brains, as shown in research by the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior. A study led by Simeon Smeele, a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, found a connection between parrots’ brain size and their longevity.
It turns out that the larger their brains, the longer they tend to live. Bigger brains give parrots an edge in adapting to their surroundings, helping them stay healthy and live longer. The study compiled data from over 130,000 individual parrots living in more than 1,000 zoos, covering 217 different species.
By analyzing this data, they could reliably estimate the average lifespan for each parrot species. They then looked for a link between brain size and lifespan and discovered that parrots with larger brains typically enjoyed longer lives.
2. Metabolic rate
Parrots, despite their small bodies, manage to live notably longer than mammals. This is intriguing because birds have a faster metabolism, higher body temperature, and increased resting glucose levels compared to mammals.
Experts suggest that birds outlive mammals due to some unique protective mechanisms in their biology, as reported by Everythingbirdsonline. The ability to fly plays a significant role in this extended lifespan.
Birds’ capacity to take to the skies allows them to escape from potential predators, and data indicates that both birds and flying mammals tend to live longer. Recent research even demonstrates that animals engaging in regular strenuous physical activity tend to enjoy longer lifespans than those that do not.
Moreover, despite the elevated energy demands of flying, birds exhibit lower levels of oxidative damage in their mitochondrial DNA, which is a key factor in slowing down the aging process.
Parrots have only a few animals that hunt them. They usually live together in groups. This makes it easier for them to find food. On the other hand, animals with many predators can’t avoid getting eaten for long. So, they adapt by having many babies as quickly as they can.
This uses up a lot of energy from the adult animals, and they often die shortly after having babies. But parrots don’t have many animals hunting them, so they don’t need to have so many babies. Over time, this has helped parrots avoid having too many babies, and it’s all thanks to natural selection.
Other factors Contributing to the long Lifespan of Parrots
Several other factors that contribute to the longer lifespan of parrots are:
- Oxidative Damage: Parrots, like all birds, experience less oxidative damage. This means they have lower levels of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) or have developed strategies to minimize the harm caused by these molecules. Birds possess a range of intricate mechanisms to mitigate the damage caused by oxidative processes (Everythingbirdsonline).
- Genetic Mutations: Genetic mutations that could lead to disabilities or diseases later in life don’t affect natural selection in parrots because those individuals have already had offspring. Consequently, these types of mutations tend to accumulate in the species, potentially shortening their maximum natural lifespan. Nevertheless, in the absence of parrot predators, natural selection has removed most of these mutations from their gene pool.
- Diet: Parrots follow a specialized diet consisting of various fruits, nuts, and seeds (The Spruce Pets). This diet is rich in antioxidants, which help minimize oxidative damage and inflammation.
In summary, the extended lifespan of parrots can be attributed to various factors, including their brain size, metabolic rate, dietary habits, and the absence of significant predators. The substantial size of parrots’ brains enhances their adaptability, contributing to their overall well-being and longevity.
Their specialized diet, abundant in antioxidants, effectively mitigates oxidative damage and inflammation, further promoting their health and longevity. Additionally, parrots benefit from having few natural predators and often living in groups, which improves their access to food resources.
In contrast, species with numerous predators tend to evolve strategies for rapid reproduction, which can drain metabolic resources from adult individuals and increase the likelihood of their demise shortly after breeding.
Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.