If your friendly avian companion is looking a little on the plump side, overeating could be the cause. Because obesity in a parakeet can lead to major health problems, it’s up to you to take control of your bird’s eating habits to make sure he doesn’t gorge himself.
Parakeet Feeding Behavior
In the wild, your parakeet would normally forage for food during the early morning hours and right before dusk. Because you provide all the food he needs, he’s much more likely to overeat than he would be if he had to seek out his own food. If you feed your little friend the same seed mix or pellets every day, he might also get bored and overeat just because nothing is there to occupy his mind. Your parakeet also may be more prone to overeating if you feed him a seed-based diet Seeds are higher in fat and lower in protein than pellets, so even a small amount is high in calories. Some birds pick out the fattiest seeds, such as sunflower seeds, and will overeat these while eschewing the healthier components of the mixture.
Recognizing Parakeet Obesity
When you look at your parakeet from the front, you should be able to see his keel, the bone that runs along the midline of his chest and body. If you can’t spot it, your bird may be a bit too chubby for his own good. If you look along the side of his jaw, where the feathers thin out, you should be able to see his jugular vein under the skin. If this vein isn’t visible, that’s another sign that your avian friend has been overeating.
Pudgy parakeets may be cute, but overeating can lower your parakeet’s life expectancy. Parakeets are also prone to developing fatty liver disease or fatty tumors in the liver if they eat too much. If your bird is overeating specific components of a seed-based diet, he could actually be both overweight and malnourished. Too much of one type of seed can leave him deficient in essential vitamins and minerals while also providing too much fat for his body to metabolize.
Feeding your bird a wide range of foods on a regular schedule that matches his natural hunger cues can help keep your bird in shape and prevent overeating. This usually means offering a pellet-based diet or seed mix twice a day, at around sunset and sunrise, then removing the food after your bird has finished eating. Parakeets need fresh fruit and vegetables in addition to their regular diet, and offering fun foods that your little friend can pull on and play with helps satisfy his need to work for his food. Orange slices, corn on the cob and pieces of broccoli are both healthy and entertaining for your parakeet. You can also help increase your bird’s activity level by providing him with a larger cage to fly around in, since an active bird needs more calories.
Bridget Coila specializes in health, nutrition, pregnancy, pet and parenting topics. Her articles have appeared in Oxygen, American Fitness and on various websites. Coila has a Bachelor of Science in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and more than 10 years of medical research experience.