How Long Do Canaries Live in Captivity?

By Cate Rushton

Wild canaries live only 5 or 6 years in the wild, but captive canaries can live 10 to 15 years. You can ensure that your canary enjoys a long life by providing a healthy diet, TLC and regular veterinary care. Keep him happy by making him part of the family, and protect him from other family pets who would love to get to know him with their teeth. A canary thrives in an engaging but stress-free environment and will reward you with years of sweet melodies when you provide him with such a home.

canary, (Serinus canaria domestica
Captive canaries live up to three times longer than those in the wild.
credit: John Anderson/iStock/Getty Images

Pets and Kids Kill Canaries

Your canary's life can quickly be cut short by other pets. When your dog spots your canary, even inside his cage, his hunting instinct may trigger. Your cat would like nothing more than to practice his pouncing skills on your little bird. Pet snakes and ferrets also love to lunch on canaries.

Tiny, fragile canaries die when they're dropped, crushed or stressed by unsupervised children. If your little one wants to visit the canary, hold the bird while she gently pets his head. Canaries are safe with older children. Teach your teenager how to handle the canary and you'll soon have a tame, confident, interactive bird.

Secure Housing Increases Life Span

A captive canary likes to interact with his humans. Keep yours in an area where the family hangs out, and he'll be happier and healthier. A solitary, isolated bird becomes depressed and lethargic.

Canaries live longer when they're active and engaged in their environment. Provide your canary a cage that's at least 16 inches long and 16 inches tall. Hang the cage from the ceiling or place it on a high shelf; your canary feels safer and more secure if he can look down on his surroundings. A bigger, aviary-style cage is even better, especially one large enough for him to fly around in. He prefers to move around his cage horizontally; a tall, narrow cage isn't the best fit for a canary.

Poor Housekeeping Makes Canaries Sick

To help your canary live a long life, clean his cage weekly and maintain it daily. Feces introduces bacteria into his food and water; household dust and toxins affect his respiratory system.

When you feed your canary, wash and rinse his food and water containers. Remove uneaten fruit or vegetables that attract pests. Check the cage daily for mites that hide in perches and toys.

Give your canary's cage a thorough scrubbing at least once per week. Remove his perches and scrub them to remove fecal matter and keep mites at bay. Wash your canary's toys with soapy water and rinse them well. Inspect and remove damaged ropes or toys to prevent injury. Wipe down the bars of the cage and replace the paper liner.

Fresh Food Keeps Canaries Healthy

Tiny canaries must get complete nutrition from the small amount of food they're able to digest. Seeds don't have a long shelf life, so purchase them from stores that cater to bird owners to ensure quality and freshness. Store seeds for several weeks in a cool, dry, pest-free location. Fresh seeds appear shiny and have no trace of mold or mustiness.

Commercial pellets provide vitamins and essential nutrients; check with your veterinarian or bird store owner for recommendations.

Supplement your canary's diet with fresh produce such as apple, pear, grapes, mango, banana, carrot, beet, radishes, lettuce, chickweed and parsley. Organic produce is best; even small amounts of pesticide can kill a canary.

Fresh water is critical to a captive canary's health. Provide fresh water every day; change it twice per day during warm weather so bacteria won't grow.