Geese are large waterfowl from the Anatidae family, and there are around 17 species split between two genera; the white geese from Anser and the black geese from Branta. Geese are common throughout much of the world and are typically large, voluminous and noisy birds that make their presence known! Here, we’re going to answer the question; how long do geese live?
Geese usually live for around 10 to 20 years but can live longer. The oldest wild Canada goose was banded in Ontario in 1969 and died in 2001, making her at least 33 years and 3 months old. Geese in captivity have a similar lifespan to geese in the wild, but the world-record oldest goose captive lived for 49 years and 8 months!
Most waterfowl live long lives, and geese are no different - these are seriously tough birds that choose to live in some of the furthest reaches of the high Arctic. Most species of geese also have slow, patient lifecycles and often don’t breed until they’re 3 or 4 years old. Once geese reach adulthood, they have few natural predators.
But, there’s certainly more to it than that. Read on to learn more about the lifespan of these durable and successful birds!
The Canada Goose has one of the longest lifespans amongst geese
Geese are long-lived, and most species live for an average of 10 to 20 years in the wild.
Waterfowl from the Anatidae family tend to live long lives, and geese are no different. The oldest wild geese have been recorded living until they’re around 30 years or longer!
Wild geese tend to live for at least ten years, but the oldest individuals of many species reach the age of 20 or higher.
The oldest living Barnacle Goose is thought to be over 30 years old!
Most pet or captive geese live for 10 to 20 years, but many live longer.
The oldest goose died on 16 December 1976 and was named George by owner Florence Hull of Thornton, Lancashire, UK. George hatched in April 1927 and died aged 49 years and 8 months. He currently holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest ever goose.
There are many anecdotal reports of wild and domestic geese living for over 25 years, providing they’re well-fed and looked after. The typical white domestic goose usually lives for at least 12 years, but many domestic breeds like the Chinese and Embden goose can live for over 20 years.
Many keepers don’t realise how long-lived geese (or other birds) really are - they’re a serious long-term commitment!
Pet geese are a long term commitment, with the average lifespan lasting over 12 years
The majority of geese die when they are really young. Baby geese - goslings - only have around a 50% chance of surviving until fledging. This is higher than some waterfowl, but still, most geese die before they reach their first birthday.
Predation by wolves, eagles, owls, hawks, bears, mink, ferrets, raccoons and foxes are some of the leading killers of geese in the wild. Geese also suffer from a range of bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, such as avian flu and can starve to death during particularly harsh winters.
Once they grow into adults, geese have around a 70% year-on-year survival rate.
In captivity, geese can suffer from a highly infectious disease called Parvovirus, which kills between 70% and 100% of all geese infected. Leptospirosis is another common issue, as is fowl cholera.
A family of Egyptian Geese
Geese have long and relatively slow lifecycles. Incubation times range from 26 days to 34 days, and the chicks won’t fledge for at least 8 to 12 weeks. Goslings stay close to their parents for much of the remaining breeding season, summer and some of the winter.
Once the juvenile geese leave the family unit, they typically join other juveniles in a flock. Geese take 3 to 4 years to reach sexual maturity, and most won’t breed until they’re at least 2 or 3. Only 10% of Canada geese breed as yearlings, and their broods mostly fail.
Most geese are monogamous and mate for life.
Brant geese live for around 15 to 20 years
Geese face a large range of predators over land, sea and air. Goslings are particularly vulnerable to predation, and as many as 50% die in their first few months. Goose parents are fiercely protective, though, and they’re known to fight to the death to protect their offspring.
While adult geese are not usually as aggressive as swans or other waterfowl, it’s not uncommon for male geese to kill goslings from different broods.
Reptiles and amphibians
The Bar-headed goose can live for around 15 to 20 years
The record for the oldest goose is held by the late George, a domestic goose that was born in April 1927 and kept by owner Florence Hull of Thornton, Lancashire, in the UK. George died on 16 December 1976, making him 49 and 8 months old.
There are various anecdotal reports of geese living for longer, but to be honest, 49 seems old enough! However, since wild geese have been recorded living until their low 30s, 49 does seem conceivable for a captive goose.
Geese prefer to eat every day, regardless of whether they’re in captivity or the wild. In the wild, geese spend much of their feeding and eat around 1kg of grass every day!
Pet geese need to be fed every day. Their dietary needs vary, but they typically require a waterfowl feed mixed with natural foods like leafy green vegetables.
The Pink-footed goose can live for over 20 years
Geese have thick, dense coats and dense layers of body fat that insulate them from the cold. Moreover, like most other waterfowl, geese also retain much of their down undercoat into adulthood and have oily feathers that keep them waterproof.
Many species of geese like the Canada goose, Barnacle goose, Cackling goose and Snow goose, Red-breasted goose and Brant (or Brent) goose live in the high reaches of the Arctic and the sub-Arctic tundra. Geese are highly specialised to their cold environments and survive torrid conditions and temperatures that plummet to some -30C.
Some species of geese do migrate in the winter, but they still withstand extreme temperatures.
A Snow Goose during a snow storm
The Canada goose is an extremely hardy and adaptable species, and they’re amongst the longest-lived species of goose.
Canada geese live for around 10 to 24 years, but many individuals have been recorded living longer.
In fact, Canada geese are amongst the longest-lived of any waterfowl, outliving most other species of swans and ducks.
Most domestic geese live for around 12 to 20 years.
Many types of domestic geese have been bred from wild geese. Some of the most popular breeds are African, Buff, Chinese, Embden, Pilgrim, Pomeranian, Roman and Sebastopol.
The lifespans of domestic geese range from around 18 to 24 years for the Embden and Chinese geese and approximately 12 years, for the African goose.
A flock of Embden Geese
The oldest goose was 49, and even that seems like a stretch. Geese can’t live until they’re 100.
Canada geese are tough and long-lived and have an average lifespan of 10 to 24 years. The oldest Canada goose was banded in Ontario in 1969 and died in 2001, making it at least 33 years and 3 months old.
White domestic geese can live for over 20 years. 12 to 15 years is more common.
The domesticated Chinese goose is long-lived and can live for over 20 years. However, a lifespan of 12 to 20 years is more typical.
A Greylag Goose in flight
The domesticated African goose, derived from the Swan goose, typically lives for around 12 to 16 years.
Embden, a German domesticated breed of goose, can live for 25 years or so. However, 16 to 20 years is a more typical lifespan.
The domesticated Toulouse goose can live for around 15 to 22 years.
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