Last Updated on November 10, 2023 by Ali Shahid
The medium-sized African Grey Parrot is an exciting pet because of its intelligent personality and its ability to mimic human speech. If you’re considering adding an African Grey to your flock, you’re probably wondering about the African Grey Parrot’s lifespan.
The typical lifespan of an African Grey parrot is 23 years in the wild, but it can reach up to 50 years in captivity. Some sources, however, claim that these parrots can reach the ripe old age of 80 (worldanimalprotection.org.uk).
For instance, in 1957, a male African grey parrot named Tarbu was born in Tanzania, making him potentially the oldest living parrot. This remarkable bird passed away in 2012 after a full 55 years of life in England.
Adopting a parrot is a big commitment because of the bird’s extended life expectancy in captivity. In terms of intelligence, they are about equivalent to a human youngster between the ages of 9 and 13.
It’s like deciding to spend the next 30–50 years living with a child aged 9–13; you’ll need to invest a lot of time and money into their care if you decide to keep one of them as a pet.
Failure to do so can lead to mental and physical health issues and, in certain cases, the need for euthanasia. Find out what you need to know about the life expectancy of an African Grey in the following article.
African Grey Parrot’s Lifespan in the Wild
Age records for wild African grey parrots have been established. Unfortunately, a considerable proportion of them naturally perishes before reaching adulthood.
The natural environment of an African Grey can be dangerous due to the presence of disease and predators like raptors.
A 2002 study found that African grey parrots live an average of 22.7 years in the wild, which is impressive given the threats they encounter every day.
African Grey Parrots’ Lifespan in Captivity
It’s not surprising that African grey parrots in captivity can live much longer than their wild counterparts. The average African grey in captivity lives about 45 years, and that’s despite the fact that poor husbandry is still the leading cause of death for this species.
Remember that this 45-year figure reflects the typical longevity for the species when kept as pets, not a maximum. There have been documented cases of African grey parrots that are or were more than 80 years old (worldanimalprotection.org.uk), so they may live much longer than previously thought.
As birds that live to be 80 years old are truly anomalies, luck and genetics likely play a large role in determining whether or not your African Grey parrot will reach that incredible milestone.
Whether or not your bird lives to a more reasonable age, say 45–60 years old, is nearly entirely up to YOU. African grey parrots can live to be this old if they are properly cared for.
Why Do African Grey Parrots Live So Long?
African Grey parrots are renowned for their remarkable longevity, both in their natural habitat and in captivity. The factors contributing to their extended lifespan are diverse and underscore their exceptional adaptation capabilities:
- Large Brains: African Greys, like other parrots, boast relatively large brains. This feature has been associated with their adaptability and overall health, contributing significantly to their prolonged lifespan.
- Intelligence: Parrots, including African Greys, are recognized for their high intelligence. Research suggests that their cognitive abilities play a pivotal role in navigating their environment, overcoming challenges, and ultimately contributing to their extended lifespan(LiveScience).
- Flight Ability: The innate capacity to fly sets birds, in general, on a path to longer lives compared to mammals of similar size. This inherent ability allows African Grey parrots to evade predators, adding to their overall longevity (LiveScience).
- Reduced Oxidative Damage: Parrots, particularly African Greys, exhibit lower levels of oxidative damage associated with the aging process. This indicates evolved mechanisms that shield them from rapid aging, bolstering their extraordinary lifespan.
- Metabolic Adaptations: Despite having a higher metabolic rate in comparison to mammals, birds, including African Greys, have evolved specialized mechanisms that safeguard them from accelerated aging, contributing to their extended life expectancy.
- Captive Care: Under proper care in captivity, African Grey parrots have been known to thrive and live exceptionally long lives, often surpassing the lifespan of their caregivers. With adequate attention and suitable conditions, they can reach ages ranging from 40 to 60 years.
- Survival Skills: In their natural habitat, African Grey parrots face numerous threats such as predators, habitat loss, hunting, and illegal trapping. Their ability to navigate and survive these challenges is a key factor in their impressive lifespan.
In essence, the combination of biological attributes, cognitive prowess, and adaptive features makes African Grey parrots stand out as enduring and resilient members of the avian world.
Factors Affecting African Grey Parrot Lifespan
A domestic parrot’s lifespan is largely affected by diet, which is also the most common cause of premature death. The difficulty is that many owners who haven’t done many studies on parrot care continue to believe that their pets will do well on a seed diet.
When they can get their beaks on them, wild African grey parrots will consume seeds. Yet, their diet consists primarily of fruits because they are frugivorous.
It makes perfect sense, considering the high sugar content of fruits and their ability to sustain the active lifestyles of wild greys. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, fruits from oil palm trees are quite popular
African grey parrots, while foraging in the wild, will eat just about anything they can get their beaks on. In addition to their primary food source, insects, these birds will also eat some types of foliage, flowers, and tree bark. And they also go to farmers’ fields to eat the produce.
- Adequate sunlight
African Grey parrots should get natural sunlight and not just artificial lighting. Make sure your bird gets at least 2-4 hours of exposure each day.
Every day, your African Grey parrot should get at least two hours of flight time, cerebral stimulation, and playtime. If you don’t provide your bird with enough toys and perches to play with, you’ll have to walk it about the neighborhood at least once a day.
African grey parrots are extremely social birds that require frequent interaction with their human flock. Your relationship with them will increase their longevity. If you don’t have the time and resources to care for your parrot, rehome it to someone who can.
Certain conditions may be more common in captive birds than in the wild. Because it is difficult to tell what is going on behind all that feathering, obesity is a silent killer of domestic birds.
To avoid your pet becoming overweight, you should let it out of its cage frequently during the day. Seizures are one of the many severe consequences of hypocalcemia, which affects many African Greys.
It is more common in confined birds than in wild birds because it affects only birds who have been given a diet consisting mostly of seeds.
Your bird’s risk of having hypocalcemia can be lowered by providing it with a balanced meal, a cuttlebone, and a calcium block.
- Environment and Conditions
Because of their hyper-sensitive respiratory systems, African Greys can’t stand the smell of many common household items. Several common home items are highly poisonous to birds, although you probably never give them a second thought.
Consider the material known as Teflon. To prevent food from sticking to cooking equipment and appliances, this chemical is applied as a coating.
Frying pans, self-cleaning ovens, pizza pans, coffee machines, irons, curling irons, portable warmers, and hair dryers all have Teflon coatings.
When heated to a specific temperature, these things emit poisonous particles and acidic fumes that are harmful if breathed in. The fumes are odorless and tasteless, yet they may kill captive parrots suddenly.
Because of their sensitivity, African Grey Parrots can get anxious when their living conditions or social interactions change. Those who are under constant stress have a compromised immune system and are more likely to get sick.
African Grey Parrots, like other creatures, have a life expectancy that varies with age, environment, and genetics. They may be more at risk of developing health problems that shorten their life expectancy as they age.
How you can extend the lifespan of an African Grey Parrot
There are several ways you can extend the lifespan of African Grey Parrots:
- Provide a nutritious diet
A balanced and varied diet is essential for the health and longevity of African Grey Parrots. Feed them a mix of high-quality pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy treats. Avoid feeding them foods that are high in sugar, salt, or fat.
- Provide regular exercise
African Grey Parrots are active and intelligent birds that require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. Provide them with plenty of toys and opportunities to play and explore their environment.
- Provide a clean and safe environment
Regularly clean their cage and provide them with a safe and stimulating environment. Avoid exposing them to toxins, chemicals, or other environmental hazards that can affect their health.
- Provide regular veterinary care
Take your African Grey Parrot to a qualified avian veterinarian for regular check-ups and vaccinations. Early detection and treatment of health issues can help extend their lifespan.
- Provide socialization
African Grey Parrots are social animals and require regular interaction with their owners or other birds to maintain their mental health and well-being. Provide them with plenty of opportunities to interact with you and other birds.
- Minimize stress
Minimize stress by providing them with a predictable routine, avoiding sudden changes in their environment, and providing them with plenty of mental stimulation.
- Keep them mentally stimulated
African Grey Parrots are intelligent and curious birds that require mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Provide them with plenty of toys, puzzles, and other activities to keep their minds engaged.
Follow these guidelines to ensure a long, healthy, and happy life for your African Grey Parrot.
Different African Grey Parrot Age Stages
African Greys are born without sight or hearing, as well as without feathers. Their parents regurgitate the meal for them.
As a baby parrot opens its eyes and imprints on its parents, it is called a nestling (or a human if there are no other parrots in the vicinity).
Around this time, African Greys got the ability to fly, although they still relied largely on their parts for sustenance. During this age, their first full pair of feathers emerged.
While they are young, Greys will begin to self-feed and try out a variety of foods. They learn to take care of themselves by foraging on their own and acquiring the necessary abilities.
They’ve matured to the point that they don’t need their parents’ aid anymore. The majority of parrot breeders begin selling their birds at this age.
After several successful mating cycles, their actual personalities emerge.
How to Determine an African Grey Parrot’s Age
When you initially got an African Grey, you probably weren’t prepared. You probably don’t know the true age of it. In such a case, how do you learn?
The sad fact is that determining one’s age without resorting to DNA testing is impossible. It’s hardly the most expensive or hassle-free choice, though.
You can tell how old your African grey parrot is by looking at specific places in its eyes.
Observing your grey parrot with keen eyesight is the only reliable way to determine its age.
Under the age of six months: dark gray or black eyes
One year old: The eyes become lighter gray in color.
2-year-old: eyes become darker straw in color.
Age from 3 to 5: the iris turns yellow, and your gray reaches maturity.
With the best care and environment, an African Grey can live for 40–60 years in a home. Their average lifespan in the wild is 22.7 years.
They are wonderful pets, but you have to be prepared to devote yourself to this species for the rest of its life since it may outlive you. Do not adopt on the spur of the moment. Take some time to think it through so you can make a well-informed choice.
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.