Do you want to know why your cockatiel is eating its own poop? Definitely, if it is your first time to see this type of behavior, you might get alarmed because of the harmful bacteria that your cockatiel might ingest.
But you do not have to worry as we are here to discuss how to prevent this behavior from happening.
Your cockatiel is eating its poop for a number of reasons. The number one reason is that cockatiels are known for eating their own poop when they lack certain nutrients from their food. They tend to find the missing nutrients in their droppings. Another reason is that they lack engagement and they result in foraging the floor in their cage.
There are still other reasons, but those two are the main reasons as to why this behavior happens. Good thing, there are easy and quick fixes to this problem which we are also going to discuss in this article.
Lastly, we will also discuss if there are any bad effects on your cockatiel when it eats its own poop.
1. Why Your Cockatiel is Eating its Own Poop: Nutrient Deficiency
Cockatiels are known for being one of the parrots that can detect if they lack certain nutrients in their diet. Another unique thing to note is that they have the ability to know where they can get these lacking nutrients. Sadly, these nutrients can be found in their poop.
So do they need to change their food? Not necessarily. What happens when there is nutrient deficiency is that the cockatiel’s body was unable to absorb the necessary vitamins and minerals which can stem from various reasons.
This can be due to the cockatiel’s activity, its wellness, exposure to light, stress levels, etc. One really cannot ensure that all nutrients that are present in the food are properly absorbed.
On the other hand, a cockatiel’s poop contains amino acids, choline, Vitamin C and Vitamin B. Therefore, when you see your cockatiel eating its own poop, you can immediately get a clue on what nutrient it is lacking in.
2. Your Cockatiel is Eating its Own Poop: Lack of Engagement
You cannot just leave your cockatiel on its own with nothing to do. Once your parrot gets bored, of course, it will look for certain things in its cage which it can play with, or in this case, eat.
This is also in relation to what they normally do in the wild. When cockatiels hang around in their nest for a long time and they are too tired to leave for food, they tend to just forage in their nest and eat whatever they find.
This not only in relation to eating their own poop, but they will also eat whatever they think is acceptable. For example, they will eat hair, mites, dust, etc. Surely, overconsumption of these things can lead to problems with pooping and much worse, health problems.
Now that the two main reasons are out of the way, let us discuss the other reasons as to why your cockatiel is eating its own poop.
3. Their Poop is Sweet
If you are currently adding something to the food of your cockatiel, their poop might end up tasting sweet. More than that, this is also the effect if you are adding sugar to their water in order to prevent hypoglycemia. Once they poop and they smell it, it can trigger them to eat their poop.
4. Your Cockatiel is Stressed
This is in relation to nutrient deficiency. When your cockatiel is stressed, it tends to have an effect on the chemical makeup of their body which will result in not properly absorbing water-soluble nutrients like Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and Choline. This also happens when it is transferred to a new cage or is exposed to a new environment.
5. Their Poop Has a Pungent Odor
This might surprise you, but the cockatiel is one of those parrots who like to live in a clean environment. Therefore, if there is poop that you failed to remove and has been there for a long time, they will result in eating it or flicking it out of its cage.
On the other hand, if it is a fresh poop and it smells really bad, they will rather just eat it instead of leaving it lying around.
What Happens When Your Cockatiel Eats its Own Poop
You do not have to worry as the effect of this behavior is not life-threatening. The scientific term for this poop eating phenomenon is Coprophagy and surprisingly, it is common to a lot of species.
However, it is good to note that cockatiels do not do this a lot. In fact, they do not eat their own poop without reason. Therefore, once you see this behavior, it is a huge sign that something is wrong with them, or at least in their environment or cage.
Eating a significant amount of poop is not bad in general. But there may be health risks especially if they eat poop that has internal bacteria or parasites in them. This is the case when you are deworming your cockatiel.
When a cockatiel ingested medicine for them to expel contaminated poop, it is expected that their poop will contain harmful organisms or worse, worms. If they eat this, they might get poisoned and it is also likely that they suffer from other health problems.
The same goes if they do not eat it, but the contaminated poop came into contact with certain parts of their body. For example, their eye, zygodactyly, feathers, etc. The poop might also cause irritation to those areas.
What to Do When Your Cockatiel Eats its Own Poop
Once the damage is done, you really cannot do much about it. Keep in mind that this certain behavior does not call for fasting or immediate deworming. The most important thing to do is to observe your cockatiel.
When you observe its behavior after eating its own poop, you will have a clue as to why they did it in the first place. Therefore, it is easier to remedy this problem. If your cockatiel has a nutrient deficiency, then you can give it food that has those lacking nutrients.
Some people use Brewers Yeast because it is rich in water-soluble nutrients. But it is best to consult your veterinarian before adding anything to your parrot’s food.
On the other hand, if your cockatiel is just bored and lacks engagement, you can add toys in its cage. Further, you can also schedule a time where your cockatiel can listen to music or at least hear something in the background.
How to Prevent Your Cockatiel from Eating its Own Poop
Cleanliness of the cage is the key here. You should not let the droppings stay in the cage until they are practically dry and sticking on the surface.
As we have mentioned earlier, one of the reasons as to why your cockatiel is eating its own poop is because of its personal upkeep of its environment.
You should remove the droppings on the cage floor daily. Just to be sure that it is clean and smelling good, you can also wipe it down with a cleaner that is safe for your cockatiel. Just try to clean it in a way that there will be no buildup of droppings.
Can my cockatiel die from eating its droppings? Generally, no. But in some cases when they constantly eat contaminated poop, they can develop health problems that might prove to be life-threatening.
Why is my cockatiel picking up its poop and flinging it away? This is a sign from your cockatiel that its cage is dirty. When they are stressed about their environment, they will either eat their droppings or pick at them and fling it out of the cage.