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Can Cockatiels Eat Peanuts? What You Need to Know!

Kristin Hitchcock

Peanuts are perfectly suitable snacks for your cockatiel. A peanut is a great source of protein and provides many other nutrients. Most importantly, they are not toxic or high in anything that cockatiels shouldn’t eat, making them entirely safe for your feathered friend.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should feed tons of peanuts to your cockatiel. They don’t provide everything that these birds need and are a little too high on the fat side.

Therefore, we recommend them as snacks or supplements only. You shouldn’t offer cockatiels peanuts as part of their regular diet.

divider-birdsCockatiels and Diet

To understand just how many peanuts you should feed your cockatiel, it is vital to understand their overall diet.

Cockatiels eat a variety of different foods in the wild, ranging from seeds and berries. They may even raid a farmer’s crops from time to time!

In captivity, mirroring this massive variety of foods can be difficult.

Many commercial foods for cockatiels are seed mixes. Most of these contain about four to 10 different seeds and nuts. However, these are not usually the grass seeds that they would eat naturally in the wild. They are often higher in fat and lower in nutrients, which is the opposite of what your bird needs!

However, many cockatiels will choose only one or two seeds that they like and pick them out, leaving the rest behind. This behavior limits their diet even further. Usually, the high-fat choices are their favorite, such as millet and sunflower.

Over time, this leads to excessively high amounts of fat and low amounts of calcium and vitamin A.

There are many different combinations of seeds on the market. The overlying problem is that they are all seeds and not the best options for your bird.

Instead, it is best to choose a pellet diet for the majority of your cockatiel’s consumption. These pellets are specifically formulated for your bird. You can choose different formulations for different life stages or needs. Some are specifically formulated for breeding birds and contain more calcium (for stronger eggs).

Preferably, pellets should make up at least 80% of your bird’s diet. Pellets come in many different flavors, shapes, and sizes. Therefore, it may take a bit of trial and error to find something that your bird enjoys.

Converting a bird to a pelleted diet is difficult, especially when they are older. However, your bird’s health is worth the extra effort.

Cockatiels Eat Rice from a mans hand
Image Credit: Snoopy0107, Shutterstock

Add Fruits and Veggies

On top of the pelleted diet, your bird should also eat quite a bit of fruit and veggies. These are essential for your bird’s overall health because they provide added vitamins and other nutrients. Plus, they help provide entertainment on top of the usual pelleted diet.

Usually, darker veggies and fruits with a lower water content are recommended. You don’t want to select veggies that are made of mostly water. Your bird should be consuming high-quality nutrients, not water.

Not all veggies and fruits are suitable for your cockatiel, so be sure to do the proper research before feeding anything to your bird. Avocados are particularly toxic and should be avoided.

Typically, fruits and veggies should make up about 20% of their diet. Choose fresh food where possible, as these are typically the most nutritious for your bird.

What About Peanuts?

Peanuts do not fit into any of these categories. They are not a specially formulated pelleted food nor are they considered a fruit or veggie. Therefore, they shouldn’t take up a significant portion of your bird’s diet.

Birds can consume a small number of peanuts and other protein-rich foods, like lean meats and eggs. However, most of their calories should come from pellets.

Feed your cockatiel peanuts as a treat only. Don’t make them a regular part of their diet. They don’t contain the nutrition that these birds need to thrive. Plus, their high-fat content can cause health problems over the long term, especially in birds already consuming a high-fat seed diet.

peanuts
Image Credit: Piqsels

What Peanuts Can a Cockatiel Eat?

You should only provide unsalted peanuts to your cockatiel. While these birds can handle some salt consumption, most nuts are far too salted to meet their needs. They don’t need it in their diet, especially not excessively.

We humans can handle a little bit of salt, including the amount added to salted peanuts. However, we are much larger than the average cockatiel. Therefore, you should avoid adding salt to their diet.

Salt is an electrolyte. If you feed your bird too much salt, it can cause an electrolyte imbalance. Your cockatiel will likely drink more to compensate for this problem. However, they will have a hard time drinking enough to compensate for their high salt intake. The bird can only consume so much water, after all! Kidney failure and even death can occur if the electrolyte imbalance lasts for too long.

It isn’t easy to judge how much salt is too much. So, it is often better to avoid salt altogether. Therefore, we recommend avoiding salted peanuts.

Beyond this, you want to ensure that your bird is eating plain peanuts. Choose peanuts that are free of any other ingredients. Sugared and flavored peanuts are not appropriate options for your avian friend.

While these substances may not blatantly harm your bird, it is better to play it safe. Sugar and other added ingredients won’t benefit your cockatiel.

Cockatiel eating peanut butter
Image Credit: MabelAmber, Pixabay

Can Cockatiels Eat Peanut Shells?

No, peanut shells are potentially toxic to cockatiels and should be avoided. You should only feed them peanuts without the shell.

Peanut shells contain aflatoxin, which can be highly toxic to cockatiels. Liver damage almost always occurs from its consumption.

On top of this, you shouldn’t feed your cockatiel older peanuts either. The mold on peanuts is also toxic for birds because it contains this same toxin. If the peanuts have been in a damp area or are old, we recommend avoiding them.

This toxin is dangerous enough that you don’t want to risk it. Most birds that eat peanut shells will end up with liver damage, which can kill them quickly. We recommend keeping shells and old peanuts out of the reach of your bird. Don’t shell peanuts in the same room that your bird is wandering around, for example.

Can Cockatiels Eat Roasted Peanuts?

Yes, cockatiels can eat roasted peanuts. The peanuts are healthier if they have been soaked and roasted.

Raw peanuts contain phytates and oxalates. While these won’t cause any problem for your bird in small amounts, they can lead to deficiencies and similar problems. These chemicals are one reason that you don’t want to give your bird peanuts that often.

However, roasting peanuts destroys most of these chemicals, making them much safer for your bird.

Just be sure you don’t add salt while you’re roasting! You want the peanuts to remain plain. Therefore, omit any salt that the roasting recipe calls for. These recipes are often designed for people, not birds. Therefore, they may call for additives that are not safe for cockatiels.

We recommend soaking your peanuts for 4–6 hours. Then, dry them at a temperature below 150 degrees Fahrenheit. This method will destroy many potentially harmful ingredients and keep the peanuts safe for your feathered friend.

How Many Peanuts are Safe for Cockatiels?

You should only feed your bird a minimal amount of peanuts. Remember, birds are much smaller than we are, so they don’t need many at all.

An appropriate amount is likely somewhere between one to two peanuts a week. We don’t recommend any more than this because it can add too much fat to your bird’s diet.

Of course, this is assuming that you’re feeding your bird plain peanuts. If you’re using salted peanuts, you should feed even less (or preferably none at all).

We recommend crushing the peanuts to make them easier for your bird to eat. They typically aren’t capable of eating whole peanuts, and this can also be a choking hazard.

peanuts on white ceramic bow
Image Credit: Piqsels

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Conclusion

Peanuts are not toxic for cockatiels, and they can be fed a minimal amount of peanuts. However, they are high in fat and not necessarily suitable in larger amounts. They contain many vitamins and minerals, but they don’t contain all the nutrients that your bird needs.

We recommend feeding your bird no more than one or two peanuts a week. Choose unsalted peanuts with no additives. Salt can be hazardous for cockatiels in high amounts, and their small body weight makes the amount added to peanuts far too much.

You can roast your own peanuts for your bird, which can make them even healthier. However, this is not necessary.

Many people will understandably find roasting a peanut or two a week for their bird a bit of overkill. However, for those with multiple birds, it may be worth it.


Featured Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

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Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!