This is one which I have not heard very often – why is my cockatiel eating so much? Well, the answer could be anything from hormones to improper diet, and I check them out below.
It is not uncommon to see pet cockatiels be more docile and lethargic than wild cockatiels. Some of it is due to their hand-bred nature, and some are due to their diet!
Wild birds generally forage and eat what is available, feeding on any type of food item. This keeps them both healthy and active.
However, for pet birds, it is very easy for them to get used to an always-available, all-seed diet.
While you should ensure that your feathered friends get fresh food and a clean water dish at every feeding time, you should also exercise restraint in feeding them treats.
Reasons Why Your Cockatiel Is Overeating
We will now look at some of the larger and long-term problems as to why cockatiels sometimes overeat.
But your cockatiel might also just eat a lot because it is boring. To prevent this, do not keep a food bowl in their cage at all times but only introduce it during feeding sessions.
Sometimes eating a lot might simply signify that breeding season is near – or that your cockatiel is about to lay eggs.
Breeding season triggers a change in hormones.
Most cockatiels will eat more during this time to produce the necessary hormones and prepare for the egg-laying period ahead.
Female cockatiels, especially, will consume more minerals and calcium to form an egg.
They will also eat more at once to create food storage to sit on eggs for a long time.
Sometimes, an imbalanced diet, such as one that offers more seeds, can result in the cockatiel having nutritional deficiencies.
To offset this, your cockatiel might forage for more food and consume it in hopes of meeting its requirements.
Hence, you might end up with an obese and malnourished cockatiel on your hand.
To begin with a balanced diet, you can try adding vitamin supplements and minerals into their water.
However, as a long-term solution, you will have to improve their diet, introduce them to vegetable pellets and reduce seeds from their diet.
It is very easy for cockatiels to get used to seed-only diets. In fact, many will only eat sunflower seeds and millet and ignore other seeds.
This kind of imbalanced diet can lead to a deficiency of common nutrients, causing your bird to eat more and more to make up for the loss.
However, necessary nutrients are not found in seeds, and overeating will only result in your bird becoming obese.
A cockatiel growing on a seed-only diet will suffer from heart diseases and vitamin deficiencies.
It is difficult to wean them out of this and bring them onto a pellet-based diet – but it has to be done. You can consult an avian health veterinarian to discuss the best plan.
How Much Do Cockatiels Eat a Day?
A healthy cockatiel will feed on pellets (made from vegetable and fruit matter) and seeds such as millet, rice paddy, sunflower, etc.
Cockatiels are predisposed towards high-fat seeds. Hence, you need to feed them a balanced diet early on to prevent obesity.
Pellets (and raw greens) should consist of around 75% of their diet, with seeds forming the rest 25%.
In all, a single cockatiel should not consume more than 30 to 40 grams of food in a day.
If your cockatiel is obese or diabetic, you should avoid feeding them fruits as well since these have high sugar.
Instead, focus on green vegetables like kale, asparagus, cucumber, and lentils.
Can Cockatiels Eat Too Much?
Cockatiels can end up eating too much, which can result in a variety of long-term problems.
- Diabetes mellitus is a common disease in cockatiels, usually triggered by a high-sugar diet. It can be treated to a large extent with the right mediation. Generally, they will show signs of obesity and an extended abdomen.
- Obese birds will be at a higher risk for heart disease.
- Continuous food presence in the crop can trigger yeast infections.
- Shortness of breath due to heavier body weight can eventually result in respiratory diseases.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you overfeed a cockatiel?
Yes, it is possible to overfeed a cockatiel. While you cannot do this by force, you can create an overall lethargic lifestyle by not giving them a good diet and exercise.
If they do not have enough things to do, they might resort to overeating to fill their time.
Do cockatiels know when to stop eating?
Most cockatiels will stop eating after they are full. However, this is assuming that your bird is healthy and has other activities to keep them busy.
As long as they get enough activity and the right set of food, birds will keep themselves in check.
How many times a day should a cockatiel eat?
It’s best to feed your cockatiel twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
However, make sure to give them small items to forage throughout – such as food-based foraging toys. Make sure they have mineral blocks at all times.
Should cockatiels have food all the time?
While this is generally an easy way to get things done – and a common practice – I would advise against it.
Most well-known rehabilitation centers will ensure that rescue birds get food at specific times of the day. This helps build a consistent routine and track their daily diet.
Cockatiels are inquisitive birds and will soon learn any routine – be it a specific feeding time or specific food items.
It’s upto the owners to educate themselves and provide them with the right diet and environment.
Thank you for reading!