Lately, my pacific (Celestial) parrotlet has been VERY picky about what he eats. When he came to us, he ate very well… His seed bowl was always cleared, and he would actually partake of the fruit and veggies we served him.
These days, he eats all the sunflower seeds in his bowl (they’ve always been a favourite), but passes over the other seeds. I tried taking out the sunflower seeds awhile ago, but he just ignored everything else – and I ended up putting them back in. As to veggies and the like, he simply chews them into very small bits. I have no idea if he eats any or not, but I don’t think so.
A bird can’t just exist on seed – it will harm its system and cause a slew of health problems – so I’m figuring it’s time for a vet visit. To be honest, I’m not sure if Ptak’s eating habits are simply a strange, juvenile phase; he is very bipolar, as most parrotlets are. I noticed recently that he seems to be eating the newspaper at the bottom of his cage. He likes to rip it up, paper being a favourite toy, but there aren’t any shreds around the cage – just a huge chunk missing from the corner. Unfortunately, his current cage has no grill at the bottom, and so he is free to go down there and shuffle around. He does have other new toys that he uses, he forages, and spends lots of quality time out with his humans exploring, chewing, flying, and playing games. So I’m baffled.
Anyway, I Googled the problem out of curiosity, and a rather alarming result came back. I wanted to see who else in the Internet world was experiencing the same thing – somewhere out there in cyberspace, another person was asking if their bird’s newspaper-eating habit was safe.
The replies were the thing that concerned me.
First, let me be clear that I know the newspaper I use is a safe liner (it is nontoxic by law) but that is also UNSAFE for birds to ingest. Doing so can impact a bird’s system, as they cannot digest it.
One reply to the person’s query, rated highly, says something along the lines of, ‘Paper is made of wood. Have you never heard of a woodpecker? Birds eat that stuff, it’s okay.’
Ignoring the fact that woodpeckers mostly use drumming as a form of communication, and do not, in fact, eat the wood (but rather insects, sap, nuts, etc.), no, it is NOT safe for your caged bird to eat its newspaper liner, no matter what. Parrots, finches, and other companion birds cannot digest the paper. Doing so may kill them.
Someone else suggested putting sand down there, which is still not a good idea. The dust from sand can affect a bird’s sensitive respiratory system. Nontoxic newspaper is always the safest liner, or you could try plain kitchen roll. There are other liners out there, though – such as sandpaper – which can be even more damaging to your bird’s system if accidentally ingested… and it can also tear up their feet if they stand on it.
Back to my Google investigation – another reply said that the birds need gravel – meaning grit.
Most companion birds do not need grit. A lot of websites say canaries and parrots need it to help them digest. However, these birds shell their seeds – you will notice seed hulls in the bottom of the bowls or cage, often lending the illusion that the seed bowl is full. They do NOT need grit to help their digestion, and again, feeding it to them may impact and rupture their intestines.
I already know that the safest way to prevent your bird from eating or chewing its liner (you really don’t want them poking around down there in general) is to buy a cage with a grill. Unfortunately for me, this isn’t an option at the moment. When I have money, yes. Until then, I’m hoping to find a way to deter a certain parrotlet from foraging around down there. I’m already ordering some new toys to make sure he’s not bored. His keel bone is feeling rather prominent (and just so you know, he isn’t impacted – all is normal in that department), so it’s off to the vet he goes. Sigh.
Poor little guy.