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Goose Lifespan: How Long Do They Live? (Pets & Wild)

goose on the lake

Although there are stories of geese living to be forty years and older, the typical lifespan of this large waterfowl, which varies according to the exact species of goose in question, can vary between 15 and 25 years. Factors including nutrition, environment, and living conditions all play a part in determining how long a goose is likely to live.

Read on for more information on the typical lifespan and contributing factors that determine how long a goose will live.

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What’s the Average Lifespan of a Goose?

There is some debate over the exact number of goose species in the world, with most of that debate concentrated on what constitutes a sub-species and what is a true species. There are also many species of duck and other waterfowl that have “goose” in the name but are not part of the Anatidae Branta, Anser, or Chen species. Generally, however, the life expectancy of a goose is between 12 and 25 years, although there are reports of some living to be 40 years or more.

African goose swimming in the water
Image Credit: JosepMonter, Pixabay

Why Do Some Geese Live Longer Than Others?

1. Species

There are potentially more than 20 different species, and the average lifespan of a goose does depend on its exact species.

For example, Canadian Geese are said to have an average lifespan of just 12 years while a Toulouse will live approximately 21 years.

2. Wild Or Domestic

There is some evidence to suggest that geese were first domesticated in Egypt 4,000 years ago. They were certainly domesticated by the 1200 BC and domestic geese were popularly bred by the time of the Romans in 1st Century BCE.

Wild geese have a lot more to contend with than domestic geese. They have more natural predators, they have to find their own food source, and they face the constant threat of habitation loss as a result of human growth. As such, while wild geese are said to have a lifespan of 10-20 years, with the average being around 15 years. Domestic geese have an average of 15-25 years and are likely to live 20 years.

3. Nutrition

Good nutrition is important to the survival of all animals, including geese. Most wild geese are vegetarian and live on aquatic plants and seeds in fields. Some may very occasionally eat fish, but it is rare and does not offer any improvement to their lifespan.

Captive, or domesticated geese, are also fed grass but this is usually supplemented with straw and some pellets. They also need to be provided with sand and poultry grit to ensure that they digest food properly.

close up goose
Image Credit: Zoltan Major, Shutterstock

4. Environment and Conditions

Domestic geese do not need much to ensure that they are happy and can live a long life. Two adult geese will need approximately ¼ of an acre of grass, which is the equivalent of a decent lawn. Unlike wild geese, they do not need a large body of water in which to live and bathe. Two geese can happily and successfully share a bath of freshwater. They also need a house, typically measuring at least 6ft x 4ft for two geese, with some warmth as well as shade from the sun. A decent protective enclosure around the garden and house will help prevent foxes and neighboring dogs from getting in, further increasing the lifespan of your geese.

A failure to meet these basic needs will shorten the lifespan of the bird.

5. Sex

Females are more likely to perish during the mating season than males because they remain on the nest and are more prone to attack by predators. As such, this is likely to shorten their average lifespan compared to males, but exact figures are unknown. Also, male geese take more responsibility for the nesting and rearing of the young than in other waterfowl, so the difference is likely to be less pronounced.

6. Healthcare

Domestic geese are considered hardy animals. They are generally healthier than chickens and other farmed birds because most of them remain free from disease, but illnesses can happen. Having your geese regularly checked by a veterinary professional will reduce the risk of life-threatening illnesses and will ensure a longer lifespan.

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The 5 Life Stages of a Goose

Egg – Most geese lay five or six eggs. These can take a month to hatch. Although the female spends the most time on the egg, males do play quite a big part in the incubation and nesting.

Hatchling – After about a month, the egg will hatch. Although the chicks quickly gain independence, they are not able to fly straight away.

Gosling – It takes several weeks before a gosling can fly, and even when it can get out of the nest, it will not be ready to leave its parents.

Sexual Maturity – Most geese are unable to lay eggs at all under the age of 9 months and most do not do so until they reach about two years of age. However, at 12 months, they will usually leave the nest and head out to find their own nesting site and potential partner.

Adulthood – Once the goose has left the nest, found a mate and suitable nesting site, it is considered an adult and is ready to have goslings of its own. Although it can happen sooner, this will usually happen at about two years of age.

goose and duckling
Image Credit: Pixabay

How To Tell Your Goose’s Age

Although it is impossible to precisely age a goose, some signs can indicate an approximate age. Goslings are covered in down for the first two weeks of their life and have prickly little feathers between this and four weeks. The less the down and the more feathers, the closer the goose is to being an adult. Adult geese over the age of 12 months will usually have developed their darker markings compared to the light hues of the juvenile, too.

Related Read: How Long Do Ducks Live? (Average Lifespan Data & Facts)

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Conclusion

Domestic geese usually live longer than wild geese, with the latter living to an average of 15 years and the domestic goose living to 20 years. Factors, such as the exact species, as well as their environment and living conditions, can affect the likely age that a goose will reach. Other factors that affect the age that a domestic goose will live to include healthcare and nutrition.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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