Zebra Finch

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Is the Zebra Finch right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Chestnut-eared Finch

Scientific name: Taeniopygia guttata

The basics:
The sturdy, agreeable Zebra Finch is the number one or number two most popular pet finch in the world. They are easy to feed, eager to breed, and can be found in an amazing variety of color mutations, starting from the day the first dark-eyed white Zebra Finch was bred in its Australian homeland in 1921. They can found in a crested version as well. They are active and fun to watch, and if you decide to raise more valuable finches later, you may even be able to use your Zebra Finch pairs as foster parents.

The familiar Zebra Finch that we all know and love is a wide-ranging, very successful Australian grassland interior subspecies, T. g. castanotis. The nominate subspecies, T. g. guttata, also known as the Timor Zebra Finch, is a smaller subspecies that may be found in some Indonesian islands, as well as coastal Australia. This subspecies does not possess the “zebra stripes” at all. However, don't get excited if your pet lacks the stripes. It's probably just one of the many, many color mutations of T.g. castanotis that happen to have the stripes bred out.

Because their natural environment is very dry, huge flocks of Zebra Finches follow the rain. They are stimulated to breed by the sight of other pairs around them and by the temporary abundance of water. Therefore, if you have only one pair, and you want to breed them, you should strongly consider playing rainforest tapes for them each day to get them in the mood.

The normal wild Zebra Finch isn't a particularly well-named bird, but if you squint at the male's lower collar, you will notice the zebra stripes. His bright orange cheek patch, paired with his lipstick red bill, is far more prominent. The female is plainer, lacking both stripes and cheek patch, and her coral bill is not quite as bright as his. The pet market offers countless color mutations and a choice of crested or uncrested birds.

12 grams (0.4 oz.)

Average size:
10 - 11 centimeters (4 in.)

5 - 15 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Zebra Finch is a bold, happy bird that doesn't know its own size. If you have a display aviary, you can often add the Zebra Finches, and they will play happily with much larger birds, as long as those larger birds would not harm them. They will poke into everyone's nest, so if you are a serious breeder, you may want to confine them to their own flight cage. Just make sure it's large enough for them to fly, to play, and to investigate all the little nooks and crannies, because they are always on the go. Their song is never going to win any prizes, as it has been variously described as a little honk or a chirp, but it isn't terribly loud, and it's entertaining to watch the little male sing to his female.

It is a very rare Zebra Finch indeed that would want to fly to or be handled by a human. For the most part, they are curious about us and enjoy watching us from their territory, but they do not want our hands or fingers poking into their cage.

Zebra Finches exercise by flying rather than hopping or climbing, and they are happiest flying in their own territory, although a few rare birds have learned to fly to their owners. Many so-called finch cages are only suitable to serve as hospital or temporary homes for birds awaiting sale. The permanent home of a pair of Zebra Finches should be 36” in length, 24” in width, and 18” in height, with ½”bar spacing. A larger flight would not be excessive. A variety of perches, swings, and even toys will keep them busy and allow them to provide you with endless action and entertainment. They love bathing, so have a bath available, or you may find them trying to splash in the drinking water.

It's possible to house Zebra Finches in colonies or aviaries, and if you decide to provide a very large flight, you may wish to add more pairs. As a rule of thumb, always remember that finches can't count above six. Therefore, if you want to prevent a pecking order from developing in a flock, you can have one pair of birds in the flight, or you can have three pairs or more in the flock, but if you have between 3 and 5 birds, then the finches at the bottom of the pecking order could be harassed, injured, or even killed. Zebra Finches are very curious and will look into other birds' nests, causing more sensitive birds to give up their breeding attempt, so you should not house them with rare species.

A hardy grain-eating bird from the Australian interior, the Zebra Finch is remarkably easy to feed, although you should never expect this bird to subsist on dry seed alone. However, the backbone of the diet will be a small seed mix, so obtain the best quality you can afford. They love many varieties of millet, including the spray millet. The seed should be fresh enough to sprout, and you should test it by sprouting it regularly. You should also supply a small chopped salad containing such items as chopped romaine, grated carrot, the fresh sprouts, chopped apple or grapes, and other dark greens such as chickweed or dandelion. This species does not demand live insects, one of the reasons they're considered an “easy” finch, but they should certainly be offered eggfood throughout courtship and breeding. All finches should have access to grit, as well as clean cuttlebone or another source of calcium.

Written by Elaine Radford


Nice easy pets, awesome parents, good beginner bird, chirpy birds, hilarious zebra finch, devoted mates


constant chatter, wake me, breedsometimes wont stop, cant handle


timed light cycle, fresh corn, variable songs, cuttle bone, egg supplements

Zebra Finch Training Tip

Zebra Finch

From rachelhill916 Sep 27 2015 7:28PM


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