Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

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We’ve been talking a lot about life span here on ScienceBlogs, and on Retrospectacle. So, thought for this week’s Grey Matters I’d talk a bit about the life span of African Grey parrots. In a nutshell, they live a long time–about 60-80 years. Although, there have been a few accounts of captive Greys living past 100 years of age! This fact is often a huge surprise to people looking into buying a Grey parrot, and should be weighed very heavily before making the jump to buy. Seriously, your getting a life partner more than a pet. Will you still want your bird when you are 70? (I know I will!) Greys in the wild usually don’t live quite as long, due to environmental pressures, predation, etc.

Other birds and even other species of parrots don’t live near as long as African Greys. Why might this be? According to a study published in the journal Aging in 1999, the rate of mitochondial oxygen radical generation is lower in long-lived birds than in short-lived birds and mammals. We’ve all heard about the destructive capability of so-called “free-radicals” as reported in the news, and it seems that African Greys may have less free radical production than short-lived birds, and less oxidative damage. Whether this is directly responsible for their life span is unknown, but its an interesting hypothesis.

Comments

  1. #1 razib
    November 3, 2006

    oldest goldfish. yes, decades….

  2. #2 J Daley
    November 4, 2006

    How long do Greys live in the wild, on average?

    …bet it’s still longer than us in the wild. :)

  3. #3 ericnh
    November 4, 2006

    I’ve had my eclectus for 2 years now and I certainly hope he lives another 40+ years with me. If only my dogs lived as long…

  4. #4 Shelley
    November 4, 2006

    How long do Greys live in the wild, on average?
    Probably about 50 yrs or so.

    I’ve had my eclectus for 2 years now and I certainly hope he lives another 40+ years with me.
    Eclectus are also long-lived birds, although there is some recent debate as to whether they are true parrots of more related to the Lorie family. Beautiful birds, either way!

  5. #5 Doug
    November 11, 2006

    I know a lot depends on how a Grey is taken care of in lifespan. But there are some websites that say greys only live 15-40 years is this true? If a grey were given optimal care would they live beyond 50?

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