The signs of obesity in parrots can be difficult to see as fluffy feathers hide excess weight. Consequently, weight gain often goes unnoticed by most owners.
Parrots can become overweight! Wild parrots require fatty foods to fuel their active lifestyle, but pet parrots still want to eat the same high-fat foods, despite not flying or exercising much. Feel the keel bone across the chest; if it’s hidden under two layers of flesh, the parrot is fat.
Weight should be monitored as obesity leads to health issues that shorten a parrot’s lifespan. A planned diet and physical activity can reduce the risk of premature death.
If your parrot is prone to overeating, it must follow a strict feeding schedule.
Can Parrots Eat Too Much?
Wild parrots rely on a fatty and calorie-heavy diet to support their active lifestyle.
If a parrot is kept in a cage and given little exercise, it’ll inevitably start to get fat. It’ll want to eat the same amount of food (perhaps more), but it’ll start gaining weight it can’t burn off.
Will Parrots Overeat?
Parrots are some of the most active birds in the world. So, they must be constantly entertained and stimulated to remain happy and contented. In the wild, parrots will:
Of course, this requires a lot of energy, so parrots have a high metabolic rate and quickly burn through their fatty reserves. So, they’re naturally drawn to foods that are high in fat.
Between their active lifestyle and not always finding food to eat, wild parrots can keep their weight in check and avoid weight-related illnesses.
Wild parrots can’t always successfully forage for food. So, whenever they find food, they’ll eat as much as possible, storing those calories as fatty reserves.
Pet parrots are still inclined to have this attitude toward food. Of course, they don’t know they have a consistent food source due to being in your care. Consequently, they overeat to survive.
Is It Bad To Have An Overweight Parrot?
If your parrot gains a little weight, this isn’t harmful. A small reserve of extra fat can be beneficial.
Since parrots have such delicate immune systems, an illness can overtax their bodies. If they lose too much weight during a recovery period, this can lead to more severe illnesses.
What Causes Obesity in Parrots?
Obesity can negatively impact your parrot’s life and result in serious ailments that negatively affect the lifestyle and reduce the lifespan of your parrot.
Obesity in parrots is caused by the following:
The most common diets for parrots are:
- Seed-based diets
- Formulated diets
Each diet plan has specific pros and cons.
Seed-based diets aren’t ideal because parrots will eat the fatty seeds and ignore the rest.
Additionally, seeds won’t provide a parrot with all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Even if seeds are a primary part of a parrot’s diet, it still needs to consume fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Many pellet brands market themselves as providing a complete diet, but they shouldn’t be the only thing that parrots eat. Pellets are high in protein, but the fat content is high.
Although some parrots grow bored of eating pellets or moderate their consumption, others will eat pellets to excess. So, avoid leaving an unlimited supply of pellets in your parrot’s cage.
Formulated diets involve carefully planning a mix of nutritious foods for your parrot to eat.
It’s not 100% faithful to a wild parrot’s diet because there are still differing aspects between what’s out in nature versus what you can provide. For example, wild berries are less sweet and contain more fiber.
Still, a parrot won’t be as prone to weight gain on a formulated diet.
Climate directly impacts your parrot’s metabolism and ability to burn fat.
Parrots have high body temperatures, so they need a fast metabolism to maintain their temperature, and this requires a lot of energy, which burns fat.
Parrots in warmer climates don’t need to burn much fat to stay warm. After all, the environment keeps their body temperature consistent. In contrast, parrots from colder climates will burn more fat.
So, if your parrot is a warm-weather species, it’s more likely to retain weight instead of burning it off.
If your normally thin parrot starts getting fat after you move from a cold-weather area to a sunny locale, this could be the explanation.
All living creatures need to burn the calories that they consume. Wild parrots live an active lifestyle, flying for miles to explore new areas and forage for food.
In contrast, pet parrots are fed daily and usually can’t burn off the calories they consume. A sedentary lifestyle is usually the cause of obesity in parrots, even if they eat healthily.
Parrot Species Most Likely To Be Obese
Parrots have a metabolism that’s optimized for the local climate. So, if your parrot has a slower metabolism due to a hot native climate, it’s more likely to overeat and gain weight.
Hot climates discourage parrots from moving much, resulting in a sedentary lifestyle.
Parrot species most prone to obesity are:
- Amazon parrots
- African grey parrots
These parrots can remain healthy if encouraged to exercise and fed in moderation.
How To Tell if Your Parrot Is Fat
It can be difficult to tell if a parrot is fat as parrots have a different weight distribution from other animals.
Also, their feathers can hide extra weight. When a parrot seems too large, you may attribute that to the parrot being fluffy or ruffled.
The most immediate way to tell if a parrot is fat is by touching its chest.
Parrots have a bone that runs vertically across the middle of their chest called the keel bone. To the sides of the keel bone are the breast muscles.
Can you feel the keel bone protruding out more than the breast muscles?
If so, the parrot is underweight. A healthy parrot will have a nicely rounded chest, and the keel bone will transition into the breast muscles.
An overweight parrot will have breast muscles that protrude past the keel bone, making it appear as if the parrot has a divide in the middle of its chest.
You can also tell when a parrot’s fat by how it acts and behaves. Inevitably, a fat parrot will:
- Tire out more easily
- Breathe heavily
Parrots are energetic and like to move, but excess weight may make the parrot lethargic. Parrots use their breast muscles to fly, and moving is more difficult when those muscles are covered in fat.
If you’re concerned that your parrot is getting fat, you can perform weekly weigh-ins as a part of its diet and exercise routine. Keep a record of its weight each week.
Average Weight of Parrots
Every parrot species has a healthy weight range. After putting your parrot on a scale, check the table below for comparison:
|Parrot Species||Average Chick Weight||Average Adult Weight|
|Hyacinth macaw||25 grams||1200 to 1450 grams|
|Scarlet macaw||21 grams||900 to 1100 grams|
|Caninde macaw||18 grams||750 grams|
|Cuban Amazon||10 grams||240 grams|
|Yellow-crowned Amazon||12 grams||380 to 480 grams|
|Blue-fronted Amazon||10 grams||400 to 430 grams|
|Goffin’s cockatoo||10 grams||221 to 386 grams|
|Moluccan cockatoo||20 grams||850 grams|
|Palm cockatoo||18 grams||900 grams|
|Umbrella cockatoo||18 grams||600 to 700 grams|
|Greater Patagonian conure||12 grams||315 to 390 grams|
|Mitred conure||11 grams||200 grams|
|Black-headed caiques||8 grams||145 to 170 grams|
|White-bellied caiques||7 grams||165 grams|
|Dusky lories||7 grams||155 grams|
|Plum-headed parakeets||5 grams||90 grams|
Parrots are considered obese if they weigh 15% or more than their ideal weight.
Obesity-Related Health Issues In Parrots
Once a parrot is obese, health problems can occur. Some weight-related illnesses cause discomfort and lead to a shorter life, while others require vet-approved dietary adjustments.
The most common weight-related health problems in parrots include:
Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) occurs when excessive fat cells accumulate in the liver, overwhelming the number of healthy cells. This disease is most common in Amazon parrots.
It’s caused by diets that contain too much fat, such as seed and pellet-based diets.
The liver can repair itself. So, following diagnosis and treatment, up to 75% of birds make a recovery.
Lipomas are balls of concentrated fat that hang from a parrot’s body. The area around the growth is completely featherless. Once they develop, lipomas require surgical removal.
Pododermatitis is known as bumblefoot. The fatter the parrot, the more weight it has to carry on its legs, and the strain on the feet leads to pododermatitis.
The signs of bumblefoot are red, scabby, ulcerated, and swollen feet. The general discomfort will lead to a parrot becoming less active than normal, exacerbating its weight problem.
The condition should be treated by a vet because, if it’s left untreated, it can spread to muscle and bone tissue. A vet may treat this condition with antibiotics, such as erythromycin or penicillin.
Atherosclerosis targets the arteries. When fat lines the walls of the arteries, they become less elastic and narrow, which could end up rupturing.
Parrots with atherosclerosis often bite at their feet due to the discomfort it brings to their legs. Arteries deliver blood from the heart to the tissues in the body. Narrower arteries could cause lameness in the legs of parrots because of the lack of blood traveling to those parts.
According to Veterinary Quarterly, atherosclerosis is among the most common signs is sudden death.
Cholesterol crystals form under the skin and make the tip of the wings swell, sometimes until they bleed. In severe cases, the tips of the wings need to be amputated.
How To Make a Parrot Lose Weight
Here’s how to get a parrot to lose weight:
1/ Dietary Changes
Formulated diets contain the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Any dietary modifications shouldn’t occur overnight, as parrots cope poorly with sudden changes. Add new food by mixing it with the regular food until your parrot adjusts.
2/ Feeding Schedule
Some parrots, especially those hand-reared, can be very needy, so they’ll demand food more often.
Ensure that other household members aren’t giving the parrot food outside of normal feeding hours and there are no duplicated feeding schedules.
3/ Exercise Time
Along with a quality diet and strict feeding schedule, a healthy level of exercise is essential.
Here are some ways to help your parrot lose weight:
Parrots like to dance, so putting on some music and teaching them to groove will keep them lean.
Playing with Other Birds
Schedule play dates with other owners, so your parrot can get active with them. Parrots are very social animals, so your bird may be more motivated to exercise with another parrot.
If it’s summer or you live in a hot climate, making the room cooler will encourage the parrot’s metabolism to work harder and burn fat. Any temperature changes should be within a comfortable range.
Parrots have a destructive side, especially larger species. They burn a lot of calories when biting and clawing into things. Ensure they have something to destroy nearby, such as cardboard.
If your parrot isn’t paying attention to its toys, get new ones as it might be bored of playing with the same things. Parrots can even play with old baby toys.