Can Cockatiels Get Overweight?

A cockatiel’s weight is crucial if you want your cockatiel to be healthy and live a long life. You need to be aware of many things that cause your cockatiel to get overweight. But, can cockatiels get overweight?

In this article, we will discuss some of the most common causes for overweight cockatiel and what you can do to help your cockatiel to reduce its weight.

Can Cockatiels Get Overweight? Cockatiels can get overweight due to improper feeding schedules and reduced daily activity. However, the signs of obesity can be difficult to notice because its fluffy feathers hide excess weight. Therefore, you must monitor your cockatiel’s weight all the time as obesity leads to health issues and a short lifespan.

This applies to many new cockatiel owners. Unfortunately, even experienced owners may be misinformed about dietary and exercise requirements, leading to cockatiel gaining weight.

Wild cockatiels require fatty foods to fuel their active lifestyle. But, pet cockatiels will still want to eat high-fat foods, despite not exercising as much.

However, if your cockatiel is prone to overeating, you will need to create a feeding schedule.

Causes Of Overweight Cockatiel

If your cockatiel is overweight, it can result in serious ailments that harm the lifestyle and lifespan of your cockatiel.

Obesity in cockatiels can be caused by:

1. Diet

One of the most common diets for a cockatiel is:

  • Seed-based diet
  • Pellets diets
  • Formulated diets

But, what are the pros and cons of each for your cockatiel’s health?

1. Seed-based diet

The seed-based diets aren’t ideal because the cockatiel will eat the fatty seeds and ignore the rest. In addition, it is virtually impossible to prevent obesity in cockatiels with seeds because you can’t force-feed a cockatiel the other seeds.

Additionally, seeds won’t provide the cockatiel with all the nutrients it needs to live a healthy life.

Even if seeds are a primary part of the cockatiel’s diet, it also needs fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

2. Pellets diet

Many pellets brand market themselves as providing a complete diet, but this is untrue. It’s difficult to stimulate the kind of diet that wild cockatiels have with processed food.

Pellets are high in proteinOpens in a new tab., but they are also high in fat. Therefore, they are meant to supplement a cockatiel’s diet, not become the only food they consume.

Also, many pellets contain artificial coloring, disrupting the cockatiel’s digestive system and leading to more issues with its metabolism. Combined with the high-fat content, they can lead to obesity in cockatiels.

3. Formulated diets

Formulated diets involve carefully planning a mix of nutritious foods for your cockatiel to eat, like:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Of course, it’s not 100% faithful to a wild cockatiel’s diet because there are still differing aspects between what’s out in nature vs. what you can provide. For example, wild cockatiels’ berries are less sweet and contain more fiber.

Still, a cockatiel won’t be as prone to weight gain on a formulated diet. So you have to understand the nutritional needs of the cockatiel and monitor its weight and health.

2. Climate

Climate may seem like an odd area of concern when your cockatiel is gaining weight, but it directly impacts your cockatiel’s metabolism and ability to burn fat.

Cockatiels have high body temperatures, so they need a fast metabolism to maintain that temperature, and this consumes a lot of energy, which burns fat.

Cockatiels in warmer climates don’t need to burn that much fat to stay warm.

After all, the environment maintains their body temperature at the appropriate level. In contrast, cockatiels from colder climates will burn more fat.

So if your cockatiel is in a warm-weather, it’s more likely to retain weight instead of burning through it.

3. Lifestyle

To fight obesity, birds need to burn more fat than they consume. Wild cockatiels manage this by living an active lifestyle. They forage for food, eat little during the day, and fly around for miles at a time.

In contrast, pet cockatiels are fed daily and usually can’t exercise away all the calories they consume.

A sedentary lifestyle is usually the cause of obesity in cockatiels, even if they eat healthily.

That’s true even if you give your cockatiel ample room to exercise.

It’s even more difficult if the cockatiel feels lonelyOpens in a new tab. or stressed because it may lack the energy in its cage. To make sure your cockatiel stays active, exercise with it. You can try working out together by dancing and playing different games.

Is My Cockatiel Overweight?

It can be challenging to tell if a cockatiel is fat as cockatiels have a different weight distribution from other animals. Likewise, their feather can hide extra weight.

You may attribute that to the cockatiel being fluffy or ruffled when it seems too large. Fortunately, there are ways to circumvent the issue:

1. Keel bone

You can leverage the keel bone technique to determine if a cockatiel is fat or obese. It’s less accurate than scales, but it’s a quick and easy way to check a cockatiel’s size and shape.

Here is how to use the keel bone technique:

  1. Touch the chest of the cockatiel with your fingers to explore for the keel.
  2. The keel is a bone that juts out from the middle of the chest. It should feel long, thin, and flat, running from the center of the chest and down to the belly. On either side of the breastbone are the muscles that form the chest.
  3. Compare how to keel protrudes or sinks in when compared to the muscles on either side. Cockatiels with healthy weight have a keel that is even with the muscles.
  4. If a cockatiel is overweight, it can be hard to find the keel bone so that the area will feel rounded.

2. Lethargy

You can also tell if a cockatiel is overweight by how it acts. The cockatiel will:

  • Breathe heavily
  • Tire out more easily

Cockatiels are energetic and like to move, and the excess weight may make the cockatiel lethargic. Cockatiels use their breast muscle to fly, and when those muscles are surrounded by fat, It can be difficult to move around.

3. Weight scale

A digital food scale is the most common type used to weight cockatiels. However, their readings aren’t as precise despite being more readily available.

A specially-designed scale will give you more accurate readings. In addition, they have a perch, which your cockatiel can stand on. With this, cockatiel will move less, providing a more accurate reading.

High-quality scales are also more accurately calibrated and offer higher accuracy.

PoopOpens in a new tab. can change the weight of a cockatiel, but not by that much. According to the Auk, poop can account for 0.5% of a small cockatiel’s weight.

How Often Should You Weight Your Cockatiel?

Cockatiels should be weight at least once per week to allow you to track any patterns or changes. A healthy cockatiel living in captivity should weigh between 80 and 125g.

A cockatiel’s weight naturally fluctuates throughout the day, becoming heavier in the evenings. After all, cockatiels will be eating and drinking up to this point, adding extra ounces.

Always weigh a cockatiel at a consistent time to create an accurate baseline.

Keeping a record will be helpful when visiting a vet. Note down your cockatiel’s weight, the date, and any symptoms. Keep your documents in one place to check for any patterns and deviations.

If you have a young cockatiel, don’t be concerned about sudden weight fluctuations as baby cockatiels experience growth spurts.

It’s normal for a thin baby cockatiel to grow suddenly to the weight it should be. Likewise, baby cockatiels that look obese may shed excess quickly as they grow older.

How To Help Your Cockatiel Lose Weight

Reducing a cockatiel’s weight involves helping it to develop better habits.

Here is how to help your cockatiel lose weight:

1. Dietary changes

An all-seed diet used to be the accepted way to feed cockatiels. Nowadays, it’s been revealed that cockatiels need a more varied, nutritious diet, including:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Formulated pellets
  • Grains
  • Nuts

Malnutrition results from eating seed and millet, which are abundant in fat and lacking in important nutrients. As a result, it’s common for cockatiels to become addicted to millet and sunflower seeds.

If your cockatiel is used to a seed diet, you will need to transition them to healthier meals slowly. You can do this by slowly mixing fruits, vegetables, and pellets into its meals and lessening the number of seeds.

Avoid giving your cockatiel food meant for humans. More often than not, human foods are too sugary, salty, and high in carbohydrates for cockatiels. Also, certain human foods are toxic to them.

2. Additional exercise

Exercise is essential for keeping cockatiels strong, fit, and healthy. A cockatiel that engages in more physical activity will live a longer, more fulfilling life.

To keep your cockatiel well-exercised, move its food and water bowl from the center of the cage, as this forces a cockatiel to walk or fly to eat and drink.

Cockatiels are often kept in cages that are too small. Instead, consider providing a cage that’s at least 24 x 18 x 24 inches. This will offer more space for flying and exploring.

Cockatiels get bored, so provide lots of toys and switch them up regularly. If money is tight, you can give DIY cockatiel toys using bits of rope, toilet paper rolls, and pieces of wood.

When you interact with your cockatiel, be creative. Make sure your play sessions include hopping, flying, and climbing. In addition, you can dance with your cockatiel or play fetch.

3. Take your cockatiel to the vet

Your vet should see your cockatiel to either identify or rule out any underlying health issues that could be causing its weight gain.

Once the disease is ruled out, your vet can provide you with guidelines Opens in a new tab.for how much your cockatiel should weigh and a healthy meal plan to reduce its weight.

Cockatiel Enthusiast

My name is Bojan. I have been around Cockatiels for the past 7 years. I love writing about Cockatiels and helping people understand how these beautiful birds live, what they like, and how to provide them the best possible care.

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