I am posing some questions, not making statements of fact.
My avian vet says she sees twice as many cases of cancer in parakeets as in any other type of parrot. I'm assuming she's adjusted for her patient population; if she sees twice as many parakeets as any other parrot, the statement would not be interesting.
It's possible that parakeets only get brought in when they are really sick and, since they are the most popular pet bird, the vet gets a larger number of cancer cases. The vet is a smart lady, though, and may be speaking only about birds brought in conscientiously since they were acquired.
Does anyone know the cancer rate of parakeets vs. other parrots?
If, indeed, the cancer rate is higher, I am tempted to guess it might be due to breeding for characteristics other than health, e.g. color. I have no evidence that this is the case and I would be interested in other's thoughts.
This question is of interest to me since my pet, Shadow, died at about 6.5 years from cancer. I am spooked enough by this recent loss that the "replacement" parakeet I acquired has native colors. I realize this is probably no protection against genetic problems (at least, not in the population of pet parakeets, which is where USA parakeets come from), but I can hope.
Another interesting thing the vet said is that, if a parakeet can survive past around 8 years, it stands a greater chance of living to a ripe old age. The ages from 6-8 tend to be when a lot of cancers show up.
I can speculate all day and so can some of you. What I'm interested in is either statistics that address any of these issues or empirical knowledge from people who have raised many birds over a long period of time.
Related to this discussion. some of the interesting questions I can think of are:
- Does breeding for color result in less healthy birds?
- Do parakeets have more cases of cancer than other parrots?
- Do wild parakeets have lower rates of cancer than pet parakeets?
- Do parakeets in the age range 6-8 have more cases of cancer than at any other similar age range?
I rarely find scholarly articles on parakeets when I search the web, so that's usually not helpful.