You just noticed that your cockatiel started chewing her cage bars and wonder why. Could she need more iron in her diet? Is she turning into a jailbird trying to chew her way out? Don’t worry. Gnawing is a natural behavior that serves several not-too-mysterious purposes for your feathered companion.
One of the reasons a cockatiel might chew on her cage goes back to something programmed deep in her genes. Chewing is a natural behavior for cockatiels in the wild. When they reach sexual maturity, cockatiels break, shred and chew various materials to mark nesting territory and build nests. Even though your cute companion is in captivity, her wild ways are ingrained in her DNA. They don’t take a vacation. So seeing her chew on her cage bars can mean she’s become sexually mature and feels it’s time to nest.
Since your pet cockatiel can’t get to the salon, she may be chewing on her cage bars to groom her beak. During her life, your pet’s beak will continue to grow and flake, and the bars of her cage provide strong resistance to help shave off flakes and keep her beak neat and trim. Too much chewing on cage bars can damage your feathered friend’s beak, though, so try to give her things inside her cage to trim it, like natural perches and cuttlebones.
Sometimes when your feathered friend is chewing on her cage bars it’s because she’s trying to get your attention or because she’s bored. Try to keep her occupied in healthy ways, such as taking her out of her cage more to play, interacting with her more, teaching her some tricks and providing her with different toys. These activities will keep her busy instead of bored and lessen her chewing on the cage bars.
Watch your cockatiel to see if her chewing on the cage bars may be to retrieve remnants of a delicious treat, such as a honey seed stick or a piece of fruit. If so, once she’s eaten them, she’ll move on. From time to time, though, cockatiels chew on their cage bars to make up for a mineral deficiency in their diets. Female cockatiels, especially, need more calcium during the spring when they will lay eggs. Make sure to provide your female cockatiel with a calcium-rich cuttlebone to ensure she gets the minerals she needs without snacking on the metal in the cage bars.
Jennafer Martin has more than 14 years of experience in writing, editing and brand management for literary, business-to-business and consumer publications. She is a writer for Zoe Soul Spa and "Pets in the City" magazine.