Cockatiels are popular pet birds found almost all over the world, second in popularity only to the budgie. They come in a variety of colors and are relatively easy to tame, making them great pets for beginners. Part of their care involves feeding them the right type of food. Tame parrots are notorious for wanting to eat whatever they see their human companions eat; after all, they consider themselves part of a flock that eats together. Consequently, many pet owners find themselves wondering if certain food items are safe for their cockatiels to eat.
Peanut butter is a popular food item that may be of interest to some pet owners when it comes to their cockatiel’s diet. After all, a parrot would likely eat peanuts, so why not peanut butter? Though organic peanut butter isn’t toxic for cockatiels, it should only be offered on occasion and in very small quantities, as it isn’t healthy for them. Processed peanut butter isn’t considered safe for cockatiels. Read on as we discuss peanut butter in more detail.
Peanut Butter & Cockatiels
Peanut butter is a spread that’s made from ground peanuts. Therefore, natural peanut butter is safe for cockatiels. Typically, this peanut butter needs to be thoroughly stirred and mixed before it can be offered to pets (or make its way onto a slice of bread for you), as the oils often separate from the base of the butter. Re-stirring these oils takes time, is sometimes inconsistent, and may also result in a mess.
To circumvent the separation of oil from the ground peanuts, many manufacturers add emulsifiers and stabilizers to their recipe. The role of these components is to prevent the oils from separating in the jar, allowing the product to maintain the same consistency without stirring. In addition, many manufacturers also add salt, sweeteners, or other additives into the mix, such as a lining of jam. This is where things get a little tricky for your cockatiels.
All forms of processed peanut butter are not recommended for cockatiels, as they might contain additives, emulsifiers, and other compounds that are detrimental to their health. This leaves pure, organic peanut butter as the only viable option for your pet. However, pure peanut butter can also carry some risks.
Though it is true that cockatiels may eat peanuts, the amount of peanuts crushed to make the butter is immense, and peanut butter is extremely high in calories and fats. This makes it a very poor choice for your cockatiel’s diet. Although safe, pure peanut butter has to be offered in very small quantities to ensure you don’t end up with an overweight bird. It’s also somewhat sticky and may cause excessive thirst, so you might observe your cockatiel drinking more water when offered even the tiniest amount of peanut butter.
Healthier Nut Alternatives For Cockatiels
If you’re looking to incorporate some nuts into your cockatiel’s diet, the good news is that there are many options that are available and safe for them when offered in moderation. Cockatiels may lack the strength to open some nuts, so any nuts offered to them should be cracked and offered without the shell.
Much like peanut butter, caution should be taken when offering your cockatiel peanuts. Though their shell is soft and something most cockatiels can easily break open, you should not offer your cockatiel peanut shells as part of their diet, as they often harbor various species of mold and fungi.
Portioning Nuts For Your Cockatiels
Cockatiels, like most parrots, do best on a pellet diet as the “base” of their daily food intake. This means that pellets should form the majority of their diet. This should be followed by safe-to-eat vegetables. Nuts, seeds, and other sources of protein, such as eggs, are next on the priority list. Finally, their diet should be completed with some servings of fruits. Therefore, nuts should only comprise about 5-10% of their diet, mainly because of their relatively high calorie content.
Pure, organic peanut butter is considered safe for cockatiels to consume as an occasional treat. However, it isn’t recommended, as it isn’t necessarily healthy. Processed forms of peanut butter are not recommended at all for cockatiels.
However, many other nuts out there are safe for your cockatiel and can be added into their diet safely when portion control is implemented. Nuts offered to your feathered friend should be de-shelled prior to being given for their consumption.