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Can Cockatiels Eat Tomatoes? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

As bird owners, we know that our birds enjoy a healthy serving of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. If you have a cockatiel, this is particularly true! Cockatiels love various types of produce, so it’s hard to imagine that any of them might be bad for your bird. Often, we think that any fruit or vegetable should be safe enough for anyone, human or animal, to eat. When it comes to tomatoes, though, conflicting information exists on whether they are safe for cockatiels. Let’s break down the reasons that some people say that this fruit is safe for birds, while others have a different opinion.

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Why Are Tomatoes Considered Unsafe for Cockatiels?

Image Credit: LoggaWiggler, Pixabay

Tomatoes aren’t toxic to cockatiels, so if they eat this fruit, they won’t be poisoned. The reason that some people refrain from giving tomatoes to their birds is that tomatoes are highly acidic. The citric acid in tomatoes can bind to iron in the bird’s body, causing iron storage disease. This disease causes difficulty breathing, a swollen abdomen, and paralysis in birds. Too many tomatoes in a cockatiel’s diet can also lead to stomach ulcers. So, while feeding an occasional bit of tomato may not immediately harm your bird, you don’t want to give them too much of this fruit.

If you choose to offer any of it to your cockatiel, give them small bits mixed in with other things. They also shouldn’t be fed tomatoes that often. Some people have given tomatoes to their birds without any problems, so they say that it’s perfectly safe to do. But since there is even the slightest reason not to give tomatoes to your cockatiel, limiting this fruit or avoiding it altogether in your bird’s diet would be best.

Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes may be more acidic than red, ripe tomatoes. For this reason, we suggest only giving your bird a bite or two of green tomatoes if you want to give them any at all.

Leaves and Stems of Tomato Plants

Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family. The fruits of these plants may be safe for birds to eat. However, the leaves and stems are not. Your cockatiel should not be allowed to eat these parts of a tomato plant. They contain solanine, which can cause illness in your bird.

Are Any Tomatoes Okay for My Bird?

white faced cockatiel
Image Credit: Zdenka Kincel, Shutterstock

If you don’t want your cockatiel to miss out on eating tomatoes, a safe way to serve them is in dried form. Drying tomatoes removes most of their acid, so it makes them safer for your bird to eat. However, it also makes them chewy. Dried tomatoes are tough and much harder than fresh tomatoes. Cutting dried tomatoes into small pieces will help your bird chew and consume them more easily.

What Fruits and Vegetables Can Cockatiels Safely Eat?

Cockatiels Eat broccoli_Trine Nordeng_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Trine Nordeng, Shutterstock

Fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens should make up 20–25% of your cockatiel’s daily diet. Fruits and vegetables that are safe to be mixed and matched in your bird’s food include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Coconut
  • Dates
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Melon
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Asparagus
  • Cooked beans
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes (cooked)

In addition to these foods, a pellet diet that provides complete nutrition for your cockatiel should be the bulk of their diet. With all these tasty options for your bird, should you choose not to give them tomatoes, they will not be missing out.

Fruits and Vegetables That Cockatiels Should Not Eat

white faced cockatiel in cage
Image Credit: daphne.t, Shutterstock

Avoiding tomatoes in your cockatiel’s diet is up to you. Remember to only serve them a little bit if you let them indulge in this fruit. But you should completely avoid these fruits and vegetables because they are not safe for your bird:

  • Eggplant
  • Cabbage
  • Raw Potato
  • Rhubarb (including the leaves)
  • Avocado

Also, always avoid chocolate, alcohol, tea, coffee, caffeine, milk, cream, or any parts of houseplants. If you aren’t sure what to give your bird, always consult your veterinarian before making any assumptions that the food is safe for them.

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Conclusion

While tomatoes themselves may not be toxic to your cockatiel, the stem and leaves of the tomato plant are. Due to their high acid content, tomatoes should be offered to your bird rarely and in small quantities. Dried tomatoes are the safest to give your cockatiel, but they should be chopped up in tiny pieces because birds could have difficulty chewing them. Providing various fruits and vegetables each day for your cockatiel will keep them from getting bored. If you choose not to feed them tomatoes, they will still have plenty of other options.


Featured Image Credit: Christine Bird, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.