How Long Do Parrots Live?

Lauren Jones, VMD
By Lauren Jones, VMD on Jul. 19, 2023
Macaw close up

Bringing a new pet into the house is always a fun adventure that takes thoughtfulness, knowledge, and preparation. An important part of being a pet parent is understanding the expected lifespan of a pet. Some pets, such as tortoises and parrots, may live for over 50 years. Because they are a lifelong commitment, lawyers often urge pet parents to provide documented plans for their pet parrots in their wills.

Average Parrot Lifespan and Aging

Parrots are an incredibly diverse group of birds known by their scientific name: psittacines. There are over 350 different types of psittacine birds, some of the more common including:

In general, the smaller the bird, the shorter its lifespan. The smaller psittacines, like budgies, parakeets, and cockatiels, generally only live 8–15 years, while the larger birds, like macaws and grey parrots, can live 25–50 years. The oldest known parrot was a cockatoo, at least 82 years old at its death. While not officially documented, many pet parrots believe some species have lived 75–100 years. Reaching these advanced ages may be possible provided the parrot receives superb husbandry, good genes, and a bit of good luck.

Typically parrots don’t live as long—even half of the time—in the wild as in captivity. This shortened lifespan is primarily due to predators, competition, and no access to veterinary care.

Every psittacine species will mature and develop at different rates. Generally, parrots lay 2–8 eggs that will incubate for 2–4 weeks before hatching. The chicks hatch with little or no downy feathers, with their eyes closed. They are highly vulnerable at this stage, requiring significant care from the parrot parents. Smaller psittacines are sexually mature as early as six months, while larger species can take up to six years.

In general, the smaller the bird, the shorter its lifespan.

What Makes Some Parrots Live Longer Than Others?

Psittscine species are primarily tree-dwelling species originally from tropical and subtropical regions. While each species has slightly variable nutrition and overall health requirements, they all have the general needs of a balanced diet, exercise and habitat requirements, and mental stimulation.

Parrots have a high metabolism but do not expend as many calories as their wild counterparts, who must forage for food and fly often. Therefore, obesity and nutrient deficiency diseases are common diseases in parrots and are usually secondary to poor nutrition and insufficient exercise. Parrots fed a seed and table food-based diet often select the fattier and high-calorie foods over healthy options. This type of diet also lacks vitamins and calcium crucial for healthy parrots. Work with your veterinarian to determine the best diet (often formulated or extruded pellets) to provide a balanced diet.

Healthy Parrot Characteristics

A healthy parrot is bright and alert. The parrot’s body is clean, with smooth, shiny feathers, free of lumps or scaling. They should not have any eye or nose discharge.

In addition to nutrition and health conditions, mental health is another major factor contributing to a parrot’s overall health. Lack of proper stimulation can lead to abnormal behaviors such as feather plucking, loss of appetite, and increased vocalization. Consult a veterinary professional familiar with parrots if you notice any concerning behaviors.

How to Improve Your Parrot's Lifespan

While species, size, and genes all play a role in the longevity of a pet parrot, malnutrition and poor husbandry are the leading causes of a shortened lifespan. Improving care, attending to the behavior and health issues specific to parrots, and providing a balanced diet is the best way to improve a parrot's lifespan. Always follow a veterinarian's recommendations to improve a parrot’s lifespan, which often include:

  • Never feeding seed-based diets

  • Offering a balanced formulated pellet or extruded diet (should make up 80% of the diet)

  • Scheduling regular veterinary appointments, including blood work

  • Providing cages as large as possible, allowing parrots to stretch their wings fully

  • When free-roaming the house, be aware of all potential hazards, including:

    • Windows

    • Open doors

    • Other pets

    • Stovetops

    • Dangerous foods

    • Toxic fumes from cooking or smoking

  • Provide numerous toys, perches, and chews in the cage for mental stimulation

  • Provide interaction, training, and enrichment as often as possible to help bond with the parrot as well as decrease abnormal behaviors, most notably feather plucking.

  • Provide 10–12 hours of sleep in a dark room each night

Featured Image:


Eatwell BVSc(Hons), DZooMed(Reptilian), DECZM(Herp), MRCVS, Kevin. British Small Animal Congress 2011: Pet Birds. 2011.

Mcleod DVM, Lianne. The Spruce Pets. How Long do Pet Parrots and Other Birds Live?. 2023.

Guinness World Records. Oldest Parrot Ever.

Johnson DVM, Dan. Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference 2006: Psittacine Quick Fact and Common Disorders. 2006.

Leck DVM, Dipl ABVP (Canine and Feline Practice), Susan. A Quick Reference Guid to Unique Pet Species: Pionus Parrots Pet Care. 2011.

Pollock DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice), Christal. Lafeber Vet. Parrot Anatomy Basics. 2023.


Lauren Jones, VMD


Lauren Jones, VMD


Dr. Lauren Jones graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2010, after receiving her bachelor's degree...

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health