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do parrots stop eating when they're full?

Do Parrots Know When To Stop Eating?

(Last Updated On: February 20, 2023)

Most parrots instinctively understand how much food and what type of nutrition they need to meet their energy needs. Despite this, parrots don’t experience a feeling of fullness and may eat too much.

When a parrot eats, the food moves into the crop (a pouch above the chest in front of the neck). Food is stored in the crop for up to 12 hours before passing into the digestive tract and reaching the stomach.

If a parrot digests food slowly, it may not realize it has eaten too much. Excessive fatty foods, like seeds and nuts, can lead to overconsumption relative to a parrot’s daily energy requirements.

Wild parrots eat twice daily – upon waking up in the morning and an hour before sleeping. Providing the same schedule in captivity will reduce the likelihood of overeating.

How Much Food Do Parrots Need?

How much food a parrot needs to flourish depends on its size and exercise levels.

Parrots should eat around 15% of their body weight every 24 hours in dry food, like pellets, which can be supplemented with fruits and vegetables.

Don’t overfeed parrots high-fat foods like nuts and seeds because they can lead to weight gain.

When Do Parrots Like to Eat?

After waking up, parrots forage for food in the morning, then rest before exercising and flying. Parrots eat again in the early evening, stocking up on food before roosting (sleeping) for the night.

This means that captive parrots also appreciate being fed twice a day. A parrot will want to be fed in the morning and when you return home.

The only concern is that providing too much food, especially in the morning, can encourage parrots to graze and eat excessively throughout the day.

do parrots stop eating when they're full?

What Time Do Parrots Stop Eating?

Parrots usually eat for the last time around an hour before roosting for the night. This means that if you cover the parrot’s cage at 7 pm, it should eat its second meal of the day at 6 pm.

This is because it takes a parrot 1 hour to fill its crop. Once this process is complete, the parrot can perch and sleep, steadily digesting its meal during the evening.

Do Parrots Stop Eating When They’re Full?

Parrots are clever birds, but this doesn’t mean they don’t make poor decisions. Most parrots will continue to eat beyond the point of fullness, especially if locked in a cage with food readily available.

This isn’t necessarily a conscious choice by the parrot. Because food remains in the crop for about 12 hours before digestion, the bird may not immediately realize it has eaten enough.

Why Do Parrots Eat More Than They Need?

If a parrot routinely eats more food than it needs to remain healthy, it is unlikely to be due to gluttony. There are various explanations for parrots eating to excess, including the following:


According to Iowa State University Veterinarian, the life of pet parrots can be dull in a cage.

If you fail to provide entertainment and stimulation, a parrot may eat to excess because it has nothing interesting to do with its time.

A parrot may also start to consider food as a toy. Parrots are messy eaters, so dropping and throwing food will likely happen once it has eaten everything it wants.

That’ll keep it busy temporarily, but it may eat what’s left unless it finds another way to pass the time.

Dietary Imbalance

If a parrot’s body lacks nutrients, it’ll track these down, potentially by overeating or consuming non-foodstuffs (called pica).

Feeding a parrot pellets makes this less likely, as they’ll provide everything needed to flourish. However, if a parrot exclusively eats seeds, it can become vitamin A deficient (hypovitaminosis-A).

Lack of Routine

Wild parrots are never sure where their next meal will come from, so they’re opportunistic eaters. Parrots may eat as much as possible while it’s safe in their natural habitat.

A captive parrot should realize that you’ll provide it with food twice daily. However, if you have an erratic and unpredictable feeding schedule, a parrot may eat excessively when the opportunity arises.

Hormonal Changes

You may find that a parrot starts eating more than usual at the onset of spring. This is the traditional breeding season for wild parrots, so when the days become warmer and longer, a range of hormonal changes arise in a parrot’s body.

These hormones can have a range of effects. Some parrots will lose interest in food, but it’s likelier that a female bird will start eating more to ensure she is strong enough to carry and lay eggs.

If a female parrot has started eating more than usual, check she’s not carrying eggs in her oviduct.

do parrots eat more than they need?

What Happens if a Parrot Eats Too Much?

The immediate aftermath of overeating in parrots is growing sluggish, lethargic, and disinterested in exercise. Gastric concerns, such as vomiting and diarrhea, may also arise.

If a parrot continues to overeat, it’ll gain weight and become obese. This will make flight increasingly difficult as the parrot will struggle to maintain its mass in the air, and even perching can become impossible as your parrot’s feet will find it hard to support its weight.

The internal organs of a parrot, most notably the heart and liver, will also suffer if the bird is overweight. A common health concern in parrots is fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis).

While Vet Times stated that diabetes is rare in parrots, it can arise alongside other long-term endocrinological concerns.

Can Parrots Overeat and Die?

A parrot won’t eat so much in a sitting that it’ll die immediately. Eventually, the body will reject any more food. If a parrot overeats as a matter of course and grows obese, this will shorten its life.

Overeating for a prolonged period can lead to atherosclerosis (a plaque build-up on the walls of the parrot’s arteries). As per Veterinary Quarterly, this can result in sudden mortality in parrots.

How Can I Stop My Parrot Overeating?

Overeating isn’t a common behavior in parrots, and it can be corrected with lifestyle and dietary adjustments. Follow these guidelines to keep a parrot at a healthy weight:

  • Varied diet. If the parrot has a wide selection of foods, it’s likelier to eat what it needs rather than filling up.
  • Stick to a reliable meal schedule, so the parrot can confidently expect to be fed at specific times. Ideally, feeding times should be around dawn and dusk.
  • Don’t fill a parrot’s cage with more food than it needs. Don’t risk leaving the parrot hungry, but equally, avoid providing more nourishment than is necessary.
  • Add toys and other forms of entertainment so that the bird doesn’t rely on food to fill its day.

Parrots are hardwired to eat more food than their bodies need because their next meal isn’t guaranteed. If a parrot is eating beyond the point of fullness and gaining weight, you must modify its eating habits.