how long can a parrot survive without food?

How Long Can A Parrot Go Without Food?

Parrots need to be fed a complete meal at least once a day to remain healthy. Smaller parrots will starve to death within 48 hours due to their high metabolism. Larger parrots have a slower metabolism, and can usually withstand the effects of starvation for a longer period.

Most parrot species are only able to survive for between 24 and 48 hours before succumbing to starvation. For smaller parrots, like budgies and lovebirds, going a single day without food can result in death. Larger parrots, like macaws and African greys, have slower metabolisms and greater fat reserves. So, their bodies can sustain them for around 3 days before serious health complications arise.

Of course, this depends on the parrot’s health, age, and whether it has access to water. A parrot will die of dehydration long before it starves to death. Always ensure that your parrot has access to clean water. Young and old parrots are more fragile, and feel the impact of starvation more acutely.

How Often Should Parrots Eat?

Parrots should eat at least once a day. Ideally, you should feed your parrot twice a day. You can also offer the parrot one large meal, with other foods available to forage on whenever it pleases.

Given the lifestyle of many owners, a morning feed and late-afternoon/dinner feed is perfect. This may change depending on the parrot. After all, the amount of food your pet needs will depend on its:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Species

For example, young, growing parrots need to eat more than mature parrots of the same species. Meals should also be placed in a separate category from treats.

  • Treats are infrequent portions of special food items
  • Meals are standard food that’s nutritious and filling

One vital thing to know is that parrots must always have access to plenty of fresh and clean drinking water. No animal can survive without water.

In emergencies, most parrots in decent health can survive a 24-hour period without water. Smaller parrots with a faster metabolism will succumb to dehydration earlier. That’s also true for elderly, unwell, or very young birds.

how often should parrots eat?

Do Parrots Need A Feeding Schedule?

It may seem convenient to just feed your parrot at random. However, across the board, parrots do best when they have a regular schedule, including mealtimes.

Wild parrots rise with the sun and begin foraging shortly after. Depending on what the food source is and its scarcity, foraging may comprise the better part of the day.

Captive parrots don’t need to forage. However, they need lots of enrichment to keep them active and entertained. Knowing how often a parrot should eat is an important aspect of providing it with a balanced diet. High cholesterol and obesity are common problems in captive parrots, as found by the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife.

This is mostly due to improper diet and a lack of exercise. If you don’t understand what a proper diet or feeding schedule is, you could mistakenly over-feed or under-feed their parrot.

What To Do If Your Parrot Is Not Eating

It can be concerning when your parrot refuses to eat or rejects the majority of its food. A lack of appetite is a sign of many health problems in parrots.

Even worse, a refusal to eat often accelerates other symptoms and weakens the body further. If a parrot is not eating, but is sleeping a lot, then it’s:

  • A sign of great illness
  • A sign that the parrot has reached the end of its life

It is vitally important to take your parrot to the vet if:

  • It ceases eating altogether
  • No other food or treats can tempt it

That’s especially true if other symptoms appear. These include:

Ensure the parrot is comfortable and has easy access to food and water until you can get it to the vet.

Is My Parrot A Picky Eater?

There are also less worrisome reasons why a parrot may stop eating food. This is sometimes caused by fussiness. Parrots are notoriously picky about their food. If your parrot doesn’t like a food, it will avoid eating it.

Parrots can also be hesitant to try new foods. It’s natural for them to be picky in the initial few days. To help this, try gradually introducing new foods so that the parrot can transition and its digestive system can adjust.

If your parrot is fussy about food or has no appetite, offer it various foods and treats. Convincing it to eat just a few morsels will help. It also allows you to determine if it is genuinely unwell or just being picky.

How Long Can Budgies Go Without Food?

Budgies are a small, common parrot. Sadly, because they are so popular and easy to breed, they are often cheap and bought by people who are unfamiliar with birds.

Most owners don’t understand that they have a very fast metabolism. A budgie will starve to death within 48 hours if it is given no food.

Budgies should be fed every day with a seed or pellet mix. They should also be provided with fresh fruits and vegetables every day or every other day.

How Long Can Cockatiels Go Without Eating?

Cockatiels are charming, apple-cheeked birds that possess a high metabolism, just like budgies. As such, cockatiels can generally survive 24-48 hours without food before their health gets impacted. Older, very young, or already unhealthy birds have a smaller window.

Cockatiels should be fed a pellet and seed mixture at least once a day, with fruits and vegetables offered every other day. Wild cockatiels go searching for food twice a day (morning and evening). That means you can break up a single feed into two smaller ones if you’d like.

How Long Can A Cockatoo Live Without Food?

Cockatoos are an interesting family of parrots known for flamboyant personalities, loud vocals, and expressive crests. As a larger parrot, cockatoos in prime health can usually go up to 48 hours without food. They may go slightly longer, but that’s no guarantee.

Beyond this window of time, the parrot’s body will begin eating away at its fat reserves. Once those are depleted, the body desperately turns to the other tissues available, meaning muscles and organs. The body will continue to strip these tissues until the body itself begins failing.

Starvation is a grim picture, and one that will claim the life of a parrot within a frighteningly short time. Even with treatment and supportive therapies, there’s no guarantee a starving parrot will survive.

A cockatoo needs to be fed pellets daily. This should be matched with:

How Long Can Lovebirds Last Without Food?

Lovebirds have peach cheeks and strong bonds with their owners. As small parrots, they can rarely go longer than 48 hours without food before suffering health issues.

Lovebirds should be fed at least once a day. There are seed and pellet blends designed specifically for lovebirds, and a portion of this should be served every day.

However, keep in mind that the pellet/seed mix should compose roughly ¾ of the parrot’s diet. Alongside this meal, or at another time of the day, you should also provide:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Dark, leafy greens
parrot not eating and sleeping a lot

How Long Can A Parrotlet Go Without Food?

Parrotlets are small, spunky birds that require a mixture of pellets, seeds, vegetables, and fruits for a complete diet. Pellets and seeds should be provided daily. Vegetables and fruits should be offered in a small amount every day, or a larger amount every other day.

Like the other small birds, parrotlets have a fast metabolism and will begin suffering from starvation between the 24-48 hour mark. Beyond this point, the parrot can rapidly succumb to health complications.

As with smaller birds, it’s wise to provide the parrot with opportunities to forage throughout the day. You can also split its feedings into two sessions. Pellet and seed mixtures can remain in the food dish for the better part of the day. Meanwhile, uneaten fruits and vegetables should be removed after a few hours.

How Long Can A Macaw Go Without Food?

Macaws are one of the largest species of parrots. As more complex animals with specialized care requirements, macaws are all too often neglected by accident. Many people underestimate the level of care needed, including the specifics of their diet and feeding times.

Macaws need to be fed a daily mixture of pellets, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Healthy macaws can survive between 48-72 hours without food before taking a sharp decline in health. Of course, even as large parrots, macaws cannot survive for more than a few days without food.

Unshelled nuts are a great treat for macaws. A great form of enrichment for intelligent parrots it to hide these treats inside of puzzle toys.

How Long Can An African Grey Live Without Food?

African grey parrots are some of the most intelligent birds in the world. As a large parrot, they also have a slower metabolism. Healthy African greys can go without food for up to 4 days if pushed. Birds that have been starved for this long, however, will have an uncertain and complicated recovery.

African greys should be fed a pellet mixture every day, with fruits and vegetables once a day too. Pellet and seed mixtures can be left in the food dish for the entire day. You can also hide treats in puzzle toys. Uneaten fruits and vegetables should be removed after a few hours.

African greys need a lot of social time with the family. To improve their feeding routine, allow the parrot to eat breakfast or dinner with you. Provide it with a perch and feeding dish in the dining room while you’re eating. It will feel included and more willing to eat.

How Long Can A Conure Go Without Food?

Conures are brightly colored, medium-sized parrots with exuberant personalities. They also have a large appetite. As such, they rarely last more than 48 hours without food before their health begins to starkly decline.

Daily feedings of a pellet mixture are a necessity for conures. They must also be supplemented with fruits, seeds, vegetables, and nuts every day.

Keep in mind that parrots will dig through the food to locate their favorite morsels, which are usually the seeds and nuts. Separating pellet feeds from fruit, vegetable, and seed feeds is a good way to encourage the parrot to eat a complete and balanced diet.

How Long Can A Parrot Survive Without Food?

Parrots should be fed daily and on a regular schedule. They rarely last longer than 48 hours without food, with smaller parrots often succumbing to starvation before that.

SpeciesMaximum Length of Time Without Food
Budgie24 hours
Cockatiel24-48 hours
Cockatoo48 hours
Lovebird48 hours
Parrotlet24-48 hours
Macaw48-72 hours
African Grey72-96 hours
Conure48 hours

Improper feeding and a lack of knowledge is a common reason for health issues in parrots. Animal Welfare notes that our evolving understanding of these amazing creatures has allowed us to improve the care of pet parrots.

Of course, emergencies happen that are beyond your control. There are times when your parrot may be left alone for a period of time. In these cases, make sure your parrot has access to extra food or that someone can stop by to take care of it.

This will ensure even bad situations don’t leave your parrot malnourished. As long as it’s given enough food, clean water, and the right kinds of food, your parrot will remain healthy.