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How Long Can a Budgie Live?

Many people enjoy birds.  I always make sure that my feeder is full and love watching the birds in my backyard.  My best friend growing up had zebra finches that she bred and I have another friend who has risen out of a deep depression thanks to the company of a budgie.

Budgies are intelligent companions that not many people are allergic to, are easy to care for and train, and have simple grooming needs.  If cared for properly, budgies can have long lifespans and bring a great amount of joy to the owner.

A budgie (budgerigar) is a small parakeet that is found in the wild in the grasslands of Australia.  This is a tough place to call home and many fall prey to predators or the harsh conditions.  A wild bird will normally only live five to eight years, while a bird kept in captivity is likely to live more than 10 years.  In some cases, budgies can live up to 15 or even 20 years.  This depends on many factors such as breeding and genetics, diet, and care.

How do breeding and genetics affect lifespan? 

Unfortunately, many breeders are more focused on money and uniquely colored birds than health.  This means that breeders may not be carefully watching for problems in their stock of birds or keeping careful track of which birds are related to who. 

Sometimes, birds that are related to each other are intentionally bred to maintain coloring.  Keep in mind that it is a gamble purchasing a budgie from a pet store, as information about the breeder is not usually known.  A budgie from a pet store may live a long life or be plagued with health problems because of poor breeding.

An English budgie is different from a wild budgie, will not live as long, and is more likely to suffer from health problems.  English budgies are bigger than regular budgies and have fluffy head. 

Some people really love these birds, but they look the way they do because of selective breeding, which is problematic to their general health.  English budgies are usually expected to have a lifespan of only five years.  This is a short while, but these birds can still lead a full life with love and care from an owner.  

How does diet affect lifespan?

A budgie living in the wild will eat whatever they can find.  This includes dried seeds, freshly sprouted seeds, fruit, vegetables, and leafy food.  Keeping this in mind, a diet of only seeds will not give the budgie very much variation and also lead to obesity. 

This is an even higher risk if kept in a small cage without the ability to exercise much.  Obesity and lack of exercise are major factors in a shorter lifespan.

All owners should ensure their budgie has access to a varied diet.  Possible items to feed a budgie for optimal health include fresh vegetables, including leafy greens, freshly sprouted seeds, occasional fresh fruit, and small amounts of cooked pasta or rice. 

A mineral block and cuttlebone are also must-haves in addition to a constant supply of clean water.  Seeds, such as millet, should be included but not make up a majority of the diet.  Pellets can be good, but many adult budgies do not care for them.  

How does care of a budgie affect lifespan?

There are many other aspects to a budgie’s care that can affect lifespan.  A large cage with plenty of opportunities for exercise and stimulation can help to keep a budgie fit and healthy. 

Providing clean air without smoke, perfumes, or other irritants is also helpful.  Make sure that the budgie is not feeling stressed or lonely.  Providing a safe environment is also important.  Make sure that all toys given to the budgie are safe and provide stimulation for the budgie. 

Budgies also enjoy flying free whenever possible.  Just be sure that the environment is safe if the budgie is allowed to fly free.  Regular checkups at the veterinarian can also lead to a longer and happier life.  Veterinarians will be able to pick up on any health problems and give advice for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  

Cleanliness is also key.  If a living environment is not kept clean, viruses and bacteria can run rampant and cause health problems for the bird.  It is best to clean the cage whenever it looks dirty. 

Just be sure to not use toxic chemicals, especially if the bird will stay in the cage while cleaning.  Vinegar is a great choice for cleaning out a cage, as this will not harm a budgie.

It is also important that a budgie has opportunities to clean themselves.  Putting a bowl or dish of water out for your budgie will give them the chance to bathe.  Do this a couple of times a week so that the budgie can remove dirt and debris from their feathers.  Budgies also love this activity, so it is a good chance to bring them joy.  

Allowing a budgie ample time for sleep is also important for their health.  A budgie needs about 10-12 hours of sleep per day.  Darkness and quiet are needed for good sleep.  If there is not an area in the house that this environment can be maintained, consider using a cover for the cage. 

Just be sure to keep a low level of noise if going this route.  Also, know that budgies can sometimes become frightened in the night.  If you hear the bird flying around the cage and squawking in the night, go to them to try to help them calm down. 

Talk to them calmly, turn on the lights, and help them to realize that everything is fine and safe.

What are some common health problems of budgies?

Common health problems can lead to a shorter lifespan.  Budgies are prone to tumors, which grow very fast because of rapid metabolism.  This is often the case because of careless breeding. 

The types of tumors seen most often include ovarian and testicular tumors, adrenal tumors, fatty tumors, and kidney tumors. 

Other common health problems include psittacosis, polyoma virus and cnemodocoptes mites.  Psittacosis is also known as parrot fever and is usually transmitted by infected food or water, or by inhaling infected particles.  This is transmittable to humans and causes flu like symptoms.  Polyoma virus is also known as Budgerigar fledgling disease.  If chicks become infected it could be fatal.  Most mature budgies will survive.  If cnemodocoptes mites build up, they can cause a scaly face and feet.  These mites can cause a variety of problems for budgies and affect their health.  

How to tell the age of a budgie

If you are curious how much longer your budgie may live, it is important to know how old they are in the first place.  There are some ways to tell how old a budgie is, but it gets harder once the budgie is an adult.  Paperwork from the breeder, information from a prior owner, or if the breeder ringed the bird will give details about age, but not all birds will come with this information.

In young budgies, look for stripes on the head.  If there are still stripes on the head, the bird has not yet molted and is younger than four months old.  Another place to look is the iris of the eyes.  Young budgies under eight months of age have black eyes, while those over eight months have a light gray or brown iris.

Unfortunately, once a bird is over eight months old, it becomes very difficult to pinpoint age.  Some varieties may also not have head stripes, making it difficult even when young.  The best thing to do is not stress over the age and take the best care of the budgie as possible so that you may enjoy their presence for a long while.