There are many different pellets on the market for various bird species, so it is important to pick the right type for your bird. You may wonder, “can parakeets eat parrot food?”
In this article, we will discuss this question in detail so you can make an informed decision about the best diet for your parakeet to help them thrive.
Understanding your parakeet’s nutritional requirements is paramount as a parakeet owner. The diet your parakeet is on will fuel their natural behaviors and promote good physical health and general well-being.
Vets recommend making parakeet pellets the majority of your parakeet’s diet and supplementing it with fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Pellets will ensure they are getting all the vitamins and nutrients needed, and the rest will supplement them and encourage natural feeding behaviors.
Are Parakeets Parrots?
When we think of parrots, we often think of enormous birds with massive beaks and giant wingspans, such as cockatoos or macaws. But the parrot family is vast and contains many different species around the world.
While your cute little parakeet may not resemble these classic large parrots, they are still, in fact, classified as parrots!
Parrots are defined as the order Psittaciformes, which has birds with characteristically curved beaks, an upright stance, and zygodactyl feet (two toes facing forward and two toes facing backward).
See where parakeets sit in their classification table below:
|Classification of Parakeets|
So, if parakeets are parrots, then general parrot food should be fine, right? Well, not quite. Let’s go over how complete parrot diets (pellet food) are formulated and who should be eating what food.
Parrot Complete Diets
How Parrot Pellets Are Formulated
All animals thrive on a diet that most closely resembles their wild behaviors. Birds in their natural environment have evolved over thousands of years to utilize the food sources around them to function at their peak.
Many parrots kept in captivity, whether in zoos, sanctuaries or in the home as pets, cannot be offered their exact wild diet.
Wondering what parakeets eat in the wild? Read our post on that here!
Wild diets will vary depending on their habitat and seasonal changes. The nutrition they get from these diets will be varied. So to replicate their natural diet, parrot pellets were invented.
Parrot pellets are best described as “formulated nutrition” as they also come in other forms such as powders and crumbles.
Benefits Of Parrot Pellets
Formulated nutrition has many benefits for your parakeet.
While pellets don’t tend to resemble food your parakeet would find in the wild, these complete diets are comparable to your cat’s or dog’s food. They are designed to provide total nutrition and all the vitamins and minerals your parakeet would get in the wild.
Providing your parakeet with a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and seeds is definitely beneficial and should make up a portion of your portion of your parakeet’s diet. But these foods have their limitations. Unless you can source wild seeds, leaves, and buds from the natural habitat of parakeets (which is unrealistic), then this basic diet will not cover all nutrient requirements.
Pellets will cover the gaps in the diet and ensure your parakeet’s body has all the resources it needs to function efficiently. A balanced diet will promote a healthy weight, higher immune system and support a range of normal behaviors.
Pellets are also beneficial for the pickier parakeets. Many parakeets tend to pick out their favorite foods from their diets, leaving the others to go stale in their bowls. This selective eating can cause nutritional deficiencies if they refuse to eat food that offers vital nutrients.
A pellet diet can offer all nutritional needs in one food, so you can be assured that if they eat their pellets, they are not missing anything from their diet.
What Pellets Can Parakeets Eat?
While the general nutritional requirements of many parrots are the same, each species comes from a different habitat and will have a different diet. Many pellet foods come specially formulated from specific types of parrots.
In general, the best pellet to feed your parakeet is one designed for parakeets.
These diets will target the specific requirements of a parakeet and replicate their natural diet composition as best as possible. Parakeet pellets will provide the best support for a healthy bird. These pellets’ size, shape, and taste will also be most palatable and safe for your parakeet.
Read more on your parakeet’s diet here.
General pellets marketed as “parrot food” may be okay to feed your parakeet, granted it covers all their requirements. Often these parrot foods are formulated for larger parrots, so they may be unsuitable in size for a small parakeet.
Parrot food often contains large pellets, as larger parrots prefer to hold food in their claws to eat. Your parakeet does not eat this way as it naturally will scavenge small food on the ground.
For example, a parrot-like a cockatoo inhabits the same wild habitat as a parakeet. The cockatoo will eat larger fruit and nuts and drop small pieces as it eats, which a parakeet may pick up while foraging.
So the food eaten is often from the same sources, but it is a different form and size. This is why general parrot food is usually unsuitable for a parakeet.
Feeding your parakeet parrot food of other similar species is okay. For example, a cockatiel shares a very similar diet to a parakeet. They have the same habitat and same foraging behaviors. Their beak is similar, so they can eat pellets of the same type and size.
In saying this, a cockatiel is slightly larger, so their food is higher in calories. Cockatiel seed mixes will have a higher proportion of fatty seeds, such as sunflower seeds, to support these calorific requirements. It may be more challenging to manage a parakeet’s weight on a food designed for cockatiels.
Final Thoughts: Can Parakeets Eat Parrot Food?
While in some cases, if the nutritional requirements are similar, it is okay to feed your parakeet parrot food formulated for other species. If you do, you need to ensure that the pellets are the correct size and shape for your parakeet to eat them safely.
You should try to feed your parakeet a bird food explicitly made for parakeets as this will ensure your parakeets get all the nutrients they need to support physical health and natural behaviors. This food will also be a suitable size and shape for parakeets to easily consume them.
Passionate bird-lover and zookeeper specializing in birds and reptiles. Sophie has a wealth of knowledge with bird husbandry.