Parrots don’t experience feelings of fullness and can be greedy. Birds eat too much because they don’t know when the next meal will come their way, and they eat more food when lacking things to do.
Food moves from the esophagus 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 moving into the digestive tract and reaching the stomach.
If a parrot digests food slowly, it may not realize it has eaten too much. Fatty foods, like seeds and nuts, can lead to overconsumption relative to a bird’s metabolic requirements.
Wild parrots eat twice daily – upon waking up in the morning and an hour before sleeping (dawn and dusk). Providing the same schedule in captivity reduces the likelihood of parrots overeating.
How Much Food Do Parrots Need?
How much food a parrot needs to flourish depends on its size and activity level.
Parrots should consume about 15% of their body weight every 24 hours. They should mostly consume pellets, but supplementation with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and insects is essential.
Don’t feed parrots too many fatty foods, like nuts and seeds, because they can lead to weight gain.
When Do Parrots Like to Eat?
Parrots forage for food in the morning (at sunrise) and again in the early evening (at sunset), stocking up on food before sleeping.
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 from work.
The only concern is that providing too much food, especially in the morning, can encourage parrots to eat excessively (graze) throughout the day.
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, gradually digesting its meal during the evening.
Do Parrots Stop Eating When They’re Full?
Parrots are clever birds, but they still make poor decisions. Most parrots 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’s 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 don’t provide stimulation, a parrot may eat to excess because it has nothing to do with its time.
A parrot may also consider food a toy. Parrots are messy eaters, so dropping and throwing food may occur once it has eaten everything it wants.
It’ll keep it busy temporarily, but it may eat what’s left unless it finds another way to pass the time.
If a parrot’s body lacks nutrients, it’ll overeat or even consume 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.
You may find that a parrot starts eating more than usual at the onset of spring. This is the breeding season, so hormonal changes arise in a parrot’s body when the days become warmer and longer.
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. Females don’t need a mate, producing unfertilized eggs without a male.
What Happens if a Parrot Eats Too Much?
The immediate aftermath of overeating in parrots is growing sluggish and disinterested in activity. Gastric concerns, like vomiting and diarrhea, may also arise.
If a parrot continues to overeat, it’ll gain weight and become obese. This will make flight difficult. Even perching will become harder because the parrot’s feet struggle to support its weight.
The internal organs of a parrot, like the heart and liver, will also be strained if a bird’s overweight. A common health concern in parrots is fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis).
Diabetes can also arise alongside other long-term endocrinological concerns.
Can Parrots Overeat and Die?
A parrot won’t eat so much in one sitting that it’ll die immediately. Eventually, the body will reject more food. If a parrot overeats regularly and grows obese, this will considerably shorten its lifespan.
How Can I Stop My Parrot Overeating?
Overeating can be corrected with lifestyle and dietary modifications.
Follow these guidelines to keep a parrot at a healthy weight:
- Varied diet. If the parrot has a wide selection of nutritious foods, it’s likelier to eat what it needs.
- Provide a reliable meal schedule so that a parrot can confidently expect to be fed at specific times. Ideally, feeding times should be around dawn and dusk, with occasional snacks during the day.
- Don’t fill a parrot’s cage with more food than it needs. Don’t risk leaving a parrot hungry, but equally, avoid providing more nourishment than is needed for a bird’s metabolic needs.
- Don’t feed a parrot junk food. They’re low in nutrients and contain a lot of calories.
- Add toys and other enrichment so a bird doesn’t rely on food to occupy its time.
Parrots are hardwired to eat more food than their bodies need because their next meal isn’t guaranteed. If a parrot eats beyond the point of fullness and gains weight, its eating habits must be modified.