Zebra Finches for Beginners

Be sure your zebra finch receives ample "green" in his diet.
Be sure your zebra finch receives ample "green" in his diet. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) are small pet birds that are big in popularity, finding their way to many homes all over the planet. These Australian finches are companionable creatures that tend to be rather silent, and talking isn't part of their repertoires. However, they often acknowledge the voices of familiar people.

Physical Appearance

These wee birdies usually grow to no more than 4.5 inches long. It's usually easy to distinguish the males from the females, as males are a combination of black, white, orange and gray, while females are 100 percent gray. The females also have more muted bills -- closer in orange when compared to the males' scarlet ones. Juvenile finches appear similar to female members of the species, although their beaks are black instead of orange. The sexes begin to differ physically when they are roughly 3 months in age.

Habitat and Living Environment

Zebra finches that live in Australia, Timor-Leste and Indonesia tend to spend time in arid environments such as grasslands and savannas. In captivity, things are different for zebra finches. The companionable creatures generally thrive when they live alongside one other member of their species. Although they are small, they require roomy cages that allow them to fly comfortably -- think a minimum of 16 feet in length, 12 feet in width and 16 feet in height. Make sure the cage has two perches or more. Swings are also beneficial for stimulating zebra finches' minds, although they're not usually as intrigued by toys as many other birds are.


Free-roaming zebra finches eat predominantly seeds. They sometimes feed on bugs, vegetables and fruits as well. In captivity, zebra finches also enjoy seeds, such as canary seeds. Look for seed mixes that are specifically formulated for finches. Commercial pellet formulas make a suitable and nutritious framework to a zebra finch's daily menu. Cuttlebone, mealworms and live bugs are also good additions to their diets. Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, lettuce, oranges, apples and carrots are all zebra finch-friendly produce choices. Talk to an avian veterinarian when going through your pet's dietary demands and meal options, and abstain from feeding any foods unless you're sure of their safety.

Life Expectancy

Zebra finches may not have the longevity that some pet birds have, but they can definitely pack a lot of vitality into their lives. They generally can stay alive and happy for a maximum of 15 years. Do all that you can to promote your bird's healthy lifespan by taking him in for avian veterinarian appointments at least once every year.


Although zebra finches that have been in close contact with humans tend to display gentle dispositions, they tend to connect more with fellow birds than with people.


Zebra finches aren't particularly noisy creatures, although the males tend to be louder than the females. Their vocalizations aren't generally shrill or grating, but rather low-key and serene. Typical zebra finch sounds include everything from murmuring and whirring to chirruping and hissing -- the latter usually reserved to situations of fear or annoyance. Their various sounds serve a lot of purposes, from sending wooing signals to alerting others of impending danger.

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