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Parrotlets Food and Nutrition

two parrotlets on a tree

Parrotlets don’t need a lot of food, but they need healthy food. Unfortunately, many pet owners feed their birds seed, thinking that this is the most natural (and hence the best) diet. While wild parrotlets certainly survive on this when they’re in the wild, they’re also not stuck into cages. They expend more energy. They need more calories.

But domesticated birds can’t move around as much, and so high fat in seeds can be a fast-track to obesity and early death. That’s why it’s better to feed your pet parrotlets a pellet diet, with seed limited to just 10% of their total diet. Pellets are formulated to contain most of the vitamins and minerals that they need. They also take longer to spoil and can be left in the dish for three days. (Just be sure to remove empty hulls at the end of the day.)

You should also provide vegetables and fruits. Not only do they provide a variety of flavors, but they’re rich in phytonutrients. Phytonutrients boost the immune system and aren’t found in pellets or seeds.

You can serve fresh or cooked vegetables or fruits (though some vitamins are lost during cooking, because the molecules break down when heated). Try peas, lima beans, and corn on the cob, carrots, green beans, cabbage and lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower. Favorite fruits include apples (remove the seeds), peaches, bananas, mangos, cherries (remove the seeds), and grapes. Limit tangerines and oranges to just twice a week, since the high acidic content will wreak havoc on your parrotlets’ digestive system. And stay away from avocado, which can kill birds!

You can also add cooked pasta and cooked brown rice though don’t leave them in the dish for long since they can spoil very easily in warm temperatures.

Vegetables have to be eaten within one day, or thrown away. If they’re anything less than fresh, they can make your birds sick. Serve them separately from pellets or seeds.

You will also need to hang a cuttlebone in the cage, and offer treats like millet spray only during training sessions so these don’t interfere with your parrotlets’ appetites.

Drinking water should always be clean. Change this at least once a day, even more if your parrotlets have a habit of dropping their food into their water dish. To discourage this behavior, some parrot enthusiasts suggest using a water bottle instead (buy the kind sold for hamsters or pet mice).