If you are an aspiring bird owner, one of the most important things you need to learn is what they can and cannot eat. Yes, there is the classic diet of seeds, but can there be more? In this article, I will talk specifically about parakeets. Now also on sale, our recommendation: Prestige Premium.
Parakeets are not restricted to just seeds! After all, parakeets are tropical birds, and their diet reflects this.
Just as humans need a diet of different foods to keep us healthy and give us essential vitamins, parakeets can and should follow a varied diet.
There is an abundance of foods they can eat, as they contain great sources of vitamins.
Of course, there are so many more fruits that are acceptable and unacceptable for a parakeet to eat than my short answer can provide and explain.
Fruits and their benefits for parakeets
Fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Apricots: apricots and mangoes are both full of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A.
- Strawberries: The seeds in strawberries are safe for birds to eat, so you don't have to worry about removing them.
Added preservatives and colourings found in dried or packed fruit can be bad for your bird, so you and your friend would be better off avoiding them altogether.
Vegetables for Parakeets
Parakeets are granivores, which means that their main diet consists of seeds or grains. But a typical store-bought seed diet does not contain all these necessary vitamins, so vegetables are a very important part of their diet.
Fresh vegetables provide parakeets with essential vitamins, such as vitamins A, B, C and calcium, like broccoli. Spinach and alfalfa sprouts are rich in vitamins A, E and K.
Other great vegetables to feed your parakeet include:
- Leafy vegetables, such as kale, romaine lettuce, sprouted seeds and dandelion leaves. These vegetables are packed with vitamins K and C, fibre, calcium and iron. Make sure you rinse them well first!
- Cooked beans: they are a great source of protein and the high fibre content keeps your parakeet's digestive system running smoothly. BE CAREFUL that the beans are cooked; raw beans are toxic to birds.
As with fruit, make sure you give your bird fresh vegetables gives!
It is recommended that a parakeet eats about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of fresh fruit and vegetables every day.
Nuts for parakeets
Nuts are full of nutrients that your parakeet is unlikely to get anywhere else. Moreover, they love nuts!
- Pecan nuts
Before you feed your bird nuts, make sure they have been chopped; their throat is incredibly small and all these nuts are as big as their head, so there is no way they can swallow them whole.
Also make sure that no shells are included as your parakeet would not even bother with them.
Other foods suitable for parakeets
Parakeets can enjoy many foods that humans can eat, even some you may never have thought of:
- PelletsPellets are another staple of parakeets' diets. Buy high-quality bird pellets from a pet shop or from your vet; grocery shop varieties have artificial colourings, flavours and preservatives that are not very healthy for a bird.
- ProteinAlthough protein can be obtained from the seed mixes for a parakeet, other sources of protein that are good for birds include: hard-boiled eggs, tuna packed in water and other cooked meats such as chicken - make sure the meat is well cooked before feeding it to your feathered friend. Corn, either raw or cooked, is another good source of protein. If you want to supplement protein to your bird in these ways, bear in mind that fresh protein should be limited (about a fingertip) every fortnight for parakeets.
Giving them small amounts of protein along with their seed diet makes up for this.
- Baby food: Crazy, right?! Feeding baby food to animals? Well, some parakeet owners may choose to include baby food in their birds' diet (as long as it is made from all natural ingredients and contains vegetables). Handy if you don't have fresh vegetables on hand.
- BreadWholemeal bread can be broken into small pieces and fed to your bird. Try to stick to simple wholemeal bread, as sweet bread can contain ingredients that are harmful to parakeets. Some nice variations on bread can be dried rolls or rusks (twice-baked bread).
- Cuttlebone: cuttlebones are those flat, oval-shaped discs you see in the bird section of the pet shop. Like its name, it is the internal skeleton of a cephalopod, the squid. Not only can it keep your bird's beak and claws trimmed, it is also a good source of calcium and other minerals that are otherwise hard to come by; just hang it in their cage and let them gnaw away.
Snacks and snacks for parakeets
Like any person or animal, parakeets like to get a treat now and then. There are many different ways to treat your parakeet:
- Peanut butter: Another great source of protein and a super tasty treat for parakeets. Spread some on a stalk of celery and feed it to your feathered friend.
- PastaWhether raw or cooked, birds love pasta! They are full of carbohydrates, which increase a bird's energy level. Try mixing pasta with your parakeet's favourite vegetables. For birds that like crunch, you can give them some raw macaroni noodles filled with nut butter. Make sure that any cooked pasta that is fed is cool.
- HoneyHoney is a very sweet treat that budgies will love. Please note that honey is high in calories, so save it for special occasions.
- MilletMillets are small grasses. They have been a staple of birds and animals for centuries. I would recommend bunch millet (it looks like corn cobs or a stick with fake strawberries all over it) or white proso millet, which are favourites with most birds. Millet can cause a bit of a mess if cut on the inside of the cage; one way to solve this is to hang it from the ceiling of the cage.
It is important to ensure that your parakeet eats food regularly; they may want to replace seed with treats, which are not good for them.
A child who eats too many sweets can become hyper and later crash with stomach problems, and the calories can cause weight gain.
Some of these delicacies, such as honey and millet, are all sweets and calories with low nutritional value. Overfeeding them can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
Most poisonous foods for parakeets
- ChocolateJust as you have been told that chocolate is dangerous for dogsIt is the same for parakeets. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which can cause hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors, possible seizures and even death in pets if ingested in a toxic dose. The darker and more bitter chocolate is, the more toxic it is for your pet.
- Onion / garlic: Onions and garlic contain an ingredient called thiosulphate, which is toxic to animals. Ingestion of these foods can cause a condition called haemolytic anaemia, in which red blood cells in a pet's body burst, causing gastroenteritis or inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
- ComfreyComfrey is a plant that can be identified by its small, purple or magenta-coloured, bell-shaped flowers. Studies of human medicine prove that this plant can cause liver damage.
- AvocadoThe avocado plant contains persin, a fungicidal toxin that is highly toxic to birds, especially smaller birds. If swallowed, persin can cause heart damage, breathing difficulties, weakness and even death.
- Fruit kernels and apple seedsThe fruit of an apple is safe for pet birds, but the seeds contain cyanide and should always be removed before feeding the apple to a bird. Cyanide is also found in cherry pips, plum pips, apricot pips and peach pips, so you should never let your bird chew on them.
- Foods rich in fat, sodium and sugarAlthough table food containing these high concentrations is not toxic, they can cause serious health problems for birds. Too much salt can disrupt a bird's electrolyte and fluid balance, leading to excessive thirst, dehydration, kidney failure and death. For example, if you are going to roast carrots or potatoes in the oven, give your bird one that is not seasoned.
- Sugar-free sweetsThese sweets contain xylitol, which is associated with severe hypoglycaemia and liver damage.
- Certain plants: Potatoes, peppers and aubergines are foods that are safe for birds to eat, but the plants themselves are poisonous. The leaves of the rhubarb plant contain oxalate crystals, which can cause kidney problems.
Non-toxic, but not recommended, food that parakeets should avoid
The following foods are technically not poisonous for birds, but they should still be avoided or fed in very small quantities:
- PeanutsAvoid mouldy peanuts or peanut products as they can be contaminated by a fungus that produces toxins.
- Dairy: birds lack an enzyme responsible for the fragmentation of lactose. Although dairy is not technically toxic, the inclusion of much dairy in the diet of birds may cause diarrhoea. Some cheeses and yoghurts contain little or no lactose, such as low-fat cottage cheese, but these foods should still be fed occasionally and in small quantities.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms that can be eaten by humans are also considered safe for pets. But do not feed false morels (or Gyromitra) mushrooms to your bird, let alone eat them yourself; cooking can make these mushrooms less poisonous, but it does not completely eliminate their danger of death.
- GritParakeets may consume large quantities of grit when they are unwell, risking intestinal blockages.
- Crackers: Yes, some crackers contain grain, which is 90% of a parakeet's diet, but they offer no nutritional value to humans or birds. There are plenty of other things that are better to feed your bird.
- TomatoesTomatoes have a high acid content, so they are not recommended for your parakeet. There are acceptances, such as dried tomatoes and spaghetti sauce, as the acid is removed when making these foods.
Tips for feeding your pet parakeet
Each budgie has a different food preference, so try and experiment with different foods to see what they like, what they don't like and what their favourite food is.
Remember to keep the food you give your bird in bite-sized meals. Parakeets are very small, incredibly light creatures - their average weight ranges from 25 to 35 grams!
If you give them a whole head of broccoli or even a slice of apple, they will have a hard time taking it apart and eating it.
Save them the trouble and chop their food so they can eat it easily.
One way to find out what kind of food your bird likes is to give it a bowl filled with different kinds of fruit.
At the end of the day, remove any uneaten fruit so that it does not spoil in the cage. If they eat certain bits and ignore others, give them what they like.
Your budgie may get bored if he gets the same meal every day, so mix things up in a fruit kebab or hang them in their cage to make eating more exciting.
Make sure that if you give your bird cooked food, you wait until it has cooled down before giving it; human food is served hot, and although we can tolerate a certain amount of heat, parakeets can suffer serious burns.
To prevent your birds from snacking on something they probably shouldn't: keep them away from your plate.
If you like to eat together with your bird, you can get them used to eating from their own plate so that they are not tempted to take something from you.
Are there foods that are normally healthy that become bad for birds under certain circumstances?
Birds suffering from candidiasis should not consume sugar during their treatment, as the yeast feeds on it. Fructose is the same as sugar, so fruit is not allowed.
Birds with avian gastric yeast may not be able to eat fruit, depending on the treatment they receive.
It is important to discuss the right bird diet with your vet to make sure you don't accidentally feed them the wrong one.
How often do parakeets eat? Parakeets eat about a pound of birdseed every month.
This is about 3 teaspoons a day. However, this may vary depending on their age and overall health.
If you think your parakeet is eating too much or too little, consult a vet.