Cute from a distance, but a bit more intimidating up close, geese are an easily recognizable bird. Those of us who have come into close contact with a goose know that once they get angered and start to honk, the nipping will begin. While it may be easy to see these loud and messy birds as a pest, they’re actually quite a popular pet amongst many people.
So what is it about geese that make them so intriguing? If you’re curious to learn more about these migratory birds, then we’ve got you covered. Let’s discover all there is to know about the goose, including the goose lifespan and average life cycle. We’ll even answer the question, how long do geese live as a pet, and how you can extend the life of your pet goose!
The Rundown on Geese
Geese are waterfowl birds of the Anatidae family. This family is known for their group of gray, white, and black geese. Their closest cousins are ducks, while their distant relatives are swans.
They are the biggest waterfowls, together with swans. However, despite being classified as waterfowls, they actually spend most of their time on land.
Interestingly enough, many people have been known to keep geese as pets. While they may not come off as the type of animal you’d keep as a pet, they actually make excellent companions. Folks with front and backyards find that they help to maintain the lawn, remove weeds, and can even function as a guard dog. This is when their nipping comes in handy! They are also extremely obedient and will follow you around like a puppy.
How Long Does the Average Goose Live?
On average, geese can live up to 20 years in the wild, with Canadian geese being the longest living waterfowl species. However, the average goose lifespan among species ranges from 10 to 20 years.
The goose lifespan depends greatly on their environment and living situations. Geese may have a long life if the environment is right, however, if they come across a hunter or a predator then their lives may end prematurely.
In captivity, geese can live for much longer. If cared for properly, domesticated geese can live up to 25 years. There has even been an isolated case of a barnacle goose at least 30 years and four months old in captivity. Their proclivity for living a long life when taken care of is another huge factor in what makes them such a popular pet for the home.
So how exactly does a goose go from baby to adult? Let’s explore the goose life cycle and what you can expect if you choose to take one in as a pet.
The Average Goose Life Cycle
No matter the species of goose that you’re dealing with, their life cycle will primarily be the same. The goose life cycle is divided into five main stages:
Normally, geese begin to lay their eggs in the springtime. The laying season begins in mid-February and will continue into mid-May. Geese usually lay one egg every one to two days until they produce a clutch of five to nine eggs. Even though geese can lay up to 25 eggs per year, they have a hard time sitting on more than nine or ten eggs at a time. After a goose finishes laying eggs, she settles in for the incubation period, while her partner remains nearby and watches over the nest.
Chicks Inside Eggs
A baby goose is called a chick. When the mother goose has laid her eggs, the chicks begin to form inside of the egg. The gestation period for the eggs is about 28 to 30 days. Once this period is over, the eggs will begin to crack and the baby chicks will hatch.
A hatchling will be born with soft down. These are not yet the adult feathers that they will grow later on. Hatchlings are often fluffy, yellow, and adorable. They are able to can see, walk, feed, and drink on their own soon after hatching. Canadian newborn geese, for example, will leave the nest and learn how to swim within a few hours after hatching.
A gosling is a term used for a tiny newborn goose. They are typically still covered in soft, fluffy down feathers and are unable to fly. At this stage, the goslings will not step too far away from where they were bred. It is also important not to encroach upon adult geese and their babies as they are incredibly protective of them. They have been known to become violent and aggressive when they feel like the lives of their goslings are at stake.
A goose is considered an adult when the goslings have molted their original down feathers and instead grow their adult feathers. As they grow their adult feathers, this is also when they begin to learn how to fly. Interestingly, a female adult is called a goose while a male is called a gander. Once they reach sexual maturity at around 1-2 years old, they then mate for life and continue the egg-laying process.
How To Extend the Life of Your Pet Goose
If you want one as a pet and want to ensure that you take advantage of the longest goose lifespan, then read on to find out the best ways to extend the life of your pet goose:
- Water supply: Domesticated geese do not require a pond, but they do require a large tub of fresh, clean water every day to live a long life. Because geese like to mate on the water, heavier breeds (such as the African or Toulouse Goose) will need a deeper water supply. This is especially important if you would like to continue breeding more geese.
- Diet: Grass makes up the majority of a goose’s diet. A quarter-acre of grass will be more than enough to keep your geese healthy, provided you also give them other things to eat. Geese greatly enjoy seeds, nuts, and berries.
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