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Home > Birds > Can Cockatiels Eat Peanuts? Vet-Approved Nutrition Facts

Can Cockatiels Eat Peanuts? Vet-Approved Nutrition Facts

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Dr. Luqman Javed

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Peanuts are perfectly suitable snacks for your cockatiel. A peanut is a great source of protein and provides many other nutrients. Most importantly, these nuts 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 many peanuts to your cockatiel. They don’t provide everything that these birds need and are too high in fat for them.

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


Cockatiels and Peanuts

Peanuts are not specially formulated pelleted bird food nor are they considered fruits or veggies. Therefore, they shouldn’t take up a significant portion of your cockatiel’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 peanuts to your cockatiel as treats 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.

Image by: 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 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. It isn’t easy to judge how much salt is too much for your bird. So, it is often better to avoid salt altogether. Most pellet diets have appropriate levels of sodium for your cockatiel.

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.

Feeding your cockatiels the wrong mixture of seeds can be dangerous to their health, so we recommend checking with an expert resource like The Ultimate Guide to Cockatiels, available on Amazon.

The Ultimate Guide to Cockatiels

This excellent book will help you balance your cockatiels’ food sources by understanding the value of different seed types, dietary supplements, fruits and vegetables, and cuttlebone. You’ll also find tips on everything from housing to health care!

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 shells. 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 old peanuts to your cockatiel. Any 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 expired, we recommend trashing 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.

peanut shells
Image by: Dasagani Ramesh, Pixabay

Can Cockatiels Eat Roasted Peanuts?

Yes, cockatiels can eat roasted peanuts. In fact, peanuts are healthier if they have been soaked and roasted. Raw peanuts contain certain compounds known as phytates and oxalates. While these won’t cause any problems 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 peanuts to your bird 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 above 150°F (65°C). 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 number 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 plain peanuts to your bird. If you’re using salted peanuts, you should feed them even fewer (or preferably none at all).

peanuts on white ceramic bow
Image Credit: Piqsels


A Balanced Diet For a Cockatiel

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!

For pet cockatiels, 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 high in fat and low in nutrients, which is the opposite of what your bird needs! Many cockatiels will also 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 other minerals, such as iodine or calcium.

There are many different combinations of bird seeds on the market. The overlying problem is that seeds are 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 75–80% 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. However, it’s best to avoid fortified pellets. In addition, please note that no pellet formulation is considered fully nutritionally adequate for a cockatiel. While pellets should form the bulk of their diet, cockatiels need other food items offered to them on a daily basis. These include safe-to-eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

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 by: Snoopy0107, Shutterstock

Add Fruits and Veggies

On top of the pelleted diet, your bird should eat quite a bit of fruits 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.

Not all veggies and fruits are suitable for your cockatiel, though, 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.



Peanuts are not toxic for cockatiels, and they can be fed a minimal number of these legumes. However, peanuts are high in fat and not necessarily suitable in large 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. For those with multiple birds, though, it may be worth it.

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Featured Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

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