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, caution is required, because while ripe tomatoes are safe for cockatiels to eat, the stem and leaves of the tomato plant are considered toxic for them.
Why Are Tomatoes Considered Unsafe for Cockatiels?
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 because the stem and leaves of the tomato plant are considered toxic for all parrots, including cockatiels. We’ll explain this in some more detail shortly. Therefore, caution should be taken when feeding your cockatiel tomatoes, and they should not be allowed to nibble on the stems or leaves (which are often attached to the fruit even after it makes its way to the market).
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, and it’s best to rotate different fruits in their diet on a daily basis. Fruits, while healthy, shouldn’t form the majority of your cockatiel’s diet. They should only comprise 5–10% of their daily intake (however, their inclusion in your cockatiel’s diet is a must).
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 tomatine, which can cause illness in your bird. Tomatine is also present in raw tomatoes, therefore, you should only feed your cockatiel ripe tomatoes.
Feeding Your Cockatiel Tomato
Ripe tomatoes that are thoroughly washed, with their stems and leaves removed, are the best tomatoes to offer your cockatiel. Ripe cherry tomatoes are also safe. All other variations of tomatoes that are ripe are also safe. Your cockatiel shouldn’t be fed unripe or overly ripe tomatoes. Tomatoes spoil very quickly once they’re cut open. Uneaten tomatoes should be discarded after 2–4 hours, and the dish they were placed in should be thoroughly washed and dried before being used again.
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.
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!
What Fruits and Vegetables Can Cockatiels Safely Eat?
Fruits, vegetables, seeds, legumes, pulses, nuts, grains, 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:
In addition to these foods, a pellet diet 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
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:
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.
While tomatoes themselves may not be toxic to your cockatiel, the stem and leaves of the tomato plant are. 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.
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Featured Image Credit: Christine Bird, Shutterstock