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Home > Birds > Can Budgies Eat Oranges? Our Vet Explains

Can Budgies Eat Oranges? Our Vet Explains

Can Budgies Eat_oranges

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Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

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Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Does your budgie watch you every time you eat a sweet and juicy orange or try to snatch it away? If your answer is yes, you might find yourself wondering if it’s safe to give your budgie oranges as a treat.

Are oranges safe for your budgie to eat? Oranges are safe for budgies to eat and can be incorporated into their diet. However, oranges should not be confused with the Trifoliate orange, also known as the Japanese bitter orange, hardy orange, or Chinese bitter orange. Trifoliate oranges are not safe for budgies to eat.

Read on as we distinguish between the two and explore how to incorporate fruits into your budgie’s diet.


A Budgie’s Diet

Like many birds, the diet of a budgie in the wild is much different than that of a pet budgie. Wild budgies are foragers that consistently travel in a home range, flying for long distances every day and eating a highly varied diet that is mostly seed-dominated. They round off this diet with the occasional shrub, some vegetation and fruit, and possibly a few insects. However, they’re mostly seed eaters with a very high metabolism.

As pets, their lives are much different. The lack of need to consistently fly away from predators gives our pet budgies a much more relaxed lifestyle. With this lifestyle comes the inherent issue that the seeds their wild counterparts consume are no longer considered safe for them when they’re kept as pets.

There are two main reasons for this, which are laid out below:
  • First, it’s almost impossible to source all the different kinds of seeds wild budgies eat for a pet budgie’s diet; wild budgies eat at least 60 different types of seeds.
  • Second, because the quality of the soil seeds are grown on can vary, a budgie kept on a seed-only diet might suffer health issues down the line.

Fortunately, advancements in research have circumvented this conundrum. Commercial pellets have been found to be a reasonable starting point for almost all parrots that are kept as pets. Their nutrition is easier to control than that of seeds, they’re less fattening, and they’re more nutritionally balanced. However, there’s a catch. The unique nutritional needs of parrots render pellets ineffective as a meal when served on their own. Though they’re able to form a good bulk of your budgie’s diet, it is important to incorporate other vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses, and fruits into their diet.

<< parrot food pyramid can go here >>

Where do oranges fall in all this? As fruits, they’re on top of the pyramid, in the least amount required by your budgie. However, they’re still necessary, and shouldn’t be ignored. Remember that your budgie needs all these foods.

Green budgie
Image By: webandi, Pixabay


Benefits of Oranges for Budgies

Oranges are safe for your budgie to eat, when served peeled and fresh. Budgies can safely consume the rind and seeds, though most people don’t like serving the seeds to their budgies. This is because anecdotal evidence suggests that many parrots (including budgies) quickly develop an affinity for the seed and may choose to eat just that, ignoring the fruit itself.

Other nutritional information of an orange (1 fruit, approximately 130 grams) is as follows:

  • Water: 114 g
  • Energy: 61.6 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 15.5 g
  • Sugars: 12.2 g
  • Protein: 1.23 g
  • Fat: 0.157 g

Oranges should be served in moderation as about 5% of your budgie’s fruit portion for the day where you opt to incorporate them into their diet. Though safe, you shouldn’t leave oranges in their budgie’s cage for too long. They tend to sludge easily, and the dishes in which they are served must be thoroughly cleaned.

Otherwise, the sludge may perpetuate harmful bacterial growth which could cause health issues for your budgie. Therefore, it’s best to remove uneaten morsels within a few hours, ideally in less than 6 hours, at the most, with removal and cleanup recommendations at 3 hours in particularly hot, humid climates.

Budgies Eat Orange
Image By: Kolotygin Igor, Shutterstock

Downsides of Oranges for Budgies

Like with any food you offer your pets, moderation is important. While oranges offer your budgie several health benefits, they can also cause issues if you feed too many to your budgie. The biggest problem you may see with overfeeding your budgie orange is a  “blood sugar spike”. The high levels of sugar and inability to work that energy off can leave your bird gaining more weight and can also cause their insulin levels to become imbalanced.

In addition, the high water content of oranges can result in a diarrhea episode if you feed your budgie too many oranges at once.

Finally, because an orange is mostly water, it may cause your budgie to quickly “fill up” but leave them feeling nutritionally deprived too. This can result in unwanted behaviors in pet budgies (such as feather plucking or overeating).

The Trifoliate Orange

Though the sweet oranges are safe for budgies, caution should be observed with the Trifoliate orange. This orange is also known as the Japanese bitter orange, Chinese bitter orange, or the hardy orange. Whether or not this particular fruit belongs in the citrus genus is still an unresolved debate. As the name suggests, this particular orange tastes bitter. It’s most commonly found in Asian countries (like those sometimes included in the name), but it is also grown in many other parts of the world, such as Europe. This fruit has a particularly thick peel and a bulb-like appearance on its end.

Unlike the sweet orange, the bitter orange is NOT safe for all parrots to consume (including budgies), and all parts of this fruit are toxic for them. Therefore, you should not offer this to your budgie.

The exact toxic agent present in the fruit hasn’t been identified yet, but it is thought to be the compound poncirin, which is also what gives this fruit its trademark bitter flavor.

trifoliate orange
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock


Other Fruits That Are Safe for Budgies

In addition to oranges, other fruits that are safe for your budgie include:

budgies eating apple
Image By: webandi, Pixabay



Sweet oranges are a safe fruit that can be incorporated into your budgie’s diet. However, the Trifoliate orange, also known as the hardy orange, Japanese bitter orange, or Chinese bitter orange, is toxic for budgies. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you can’t properly identify an orange, it’s best to err on the side of caution and offer your budgie another safe alternative as their fruit of the day. As always, you should consult with your veterinarian if you’re not sure about what foods you should offer your budgie.

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