The zebra finch may just be the most popular finch for pet owners, not only because of its easy availability and affordable price tag but also because of its long history of being domesticated and it’s gorgeous color patterns.
Some of the best looking finches by far, zebra finches are a lot of fun to own as well. Highly social, highly active, and doing really well in pairs and small flocks it’s not hard to fall head over heels in love with everything that these beautiful birds bring to the table.
At the same, finches in general have a bit of a notorious reputation for not being quite as hardy or as long-lived as some of the other birds you might like to keep as a pet.
In the wild zebra finches lifespan is 5 years. However, in captivity, the average Zebra finch age is about seven years old. Some zebra finches can live as old as 12, with the oldest (on record) age of a zebra finch in captivity reaching nearly 14.5 years of age.
Below we dig a little deeper into the longevity you can expect from your zebra finches, how their lifecycle stacks up against other finches, and what you can do to help them lead happier and healthier lives as well.
Let’s get right to it!
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How Long Do Zebra Finches Live in Captivity?
Originally found in the wild of central Australia (and later exported throughout Southeast Asia), today it’s not hard to find wild zebra finches in far-flung locales like Puerto Rico and Portugal, too.
Zebra finches living in the wild can get as old as five years of age and very rarely any older than that, usually because they are so easily spotted by their natural predators due to their unique coloration.
In captivity, however, it’s not at all outrageous for zebra finches to live twice as long with an average age of about seven years old. Some zebra finches can live as old as 12, with the oldest (on record) age of a zebra finch in captivity reaching nearly 14.5 years of age.
A bunch of different factors come together to influence how old your zebra finch is going to get, though.
The amount of space they have to themselves compared to the rest of the flock, the food that they eat on a regular basis the exercise that they get daily, and a number of other factors (including genetic issues) contribute significantly to how long a life your finch will live.
As a general rule, though, expect your zebra finches to make it to at least their fifth birthday – and often a lot longer than that!
Do Zebra Finches Live Longer or Shorter Lives Than Other Finches?
Zebra finches don’t necessarily lead longer or shorter lives than other types of finches, but are sort of in the “middle of the pack” as far as average lifespan is concerned.
House finches, for example, have an average lifespan of about 12 years. Asian Rosie finches, on the other hand, usually aren’t going to live any longer than five years.
Bengal finches live anywhere between four and eight years on average, with Cassin’s finches making it to seven years old (average) in captivity. Gouldian finches are generally going to make it to six years of age in captivity (so will Laysan finches) with Nihoa finches making it to the ripe old age of 11 years more often than not.
Purple finches have maybe the widest spread of “average lifespans” in the finch world, with some living for only two years on average and others living as long as 11 years.
How Can I Help My Finches Lead Long, Healthy Lives?
One of the most important things you need to do to keep your zebra finches happy and healthy is to protect them from a scaly face issue that can be caused by mites.
This medical condition can compromise their entire respiratory system a whole lot faster than you believe possible, which is why it has to be addressed ASAP. Zebra finches in specific are particularly prone to air-sac mite infections that cause the scaly face problems.
If you ever notice that your finches have difficulty breathing is a good idea to pencil in an emergency vet appointment straightaway. They’ll need medical intervention in a hurry to survive.
You also want to make sure that the diet and nutrition for your zebra finches are really dialed in.
Finches are a foraging species, always on the hunt for seeds, weeds, berries, pinecones, and other bits of food to pick up from the forest floor. It’s not a bad idea to feed them on the floor of your cage (but not under their purchase) so they can mimic the natural behavior that they tended towards.
You want to make sure that you’re providing them with a high quality diet that offers all the nutrition they need (usually powered by healthy grains and vegetables), mixing in a teaspoon or two of finch seed every single day.
Pellet food sources, millet sprays, and even some scrambled eggs every now and again can help to provide a boost to the daily nutrition your finch gets. Be smart about how you add these “extras”, though. You don’t want to go overboard – something easier to do than most assume, especially considering how small these finches are!
Final Thoughts: Zebra Finch lifespan
Keep all these details in mind and you’ll have no trouble getting your finches to at least five years old (and likely at least double that). Best of luck going forward with your new zebra finch flock!