I have had a few questions of late regarding cockatiels eating their own droppings. So I have decided to write a blog post to help cockatiel owners understand why cockatiels eat their own poop and what to do.
Some of our cockatiels eat droppings. It also seems that it is mostly the females, we have not noticed any boys doing it. Practice good daily cleaning habits and offer plenty of fresh material to browse on and you can limit the chances of your cockatiels wanting to eat their droppings.
Why do cockatiels eat their own droppings?
The answer to this can be a few reasons.
The most obvious is that they are just searching for food and end up eating poop instead. Or they are lacking some minerals or vitamins and the droppings still contain some. Cockatiels are one of the only parrot kingdom birds that are known for eating their droppings when they are lacking nutrients.
Another reason may be that they are bored and this is an activity for them. This is often the case for captive cockatiels as they are kept in the same place and therefore forage on the ground beneath their habitat. In the wild, birds will be open to much more space and hence not be subject to only foraging from the floor beneath them.
The most worrying answer is that the cockatiel is deficient in something and trying to replace it by eating it’s own poop.
What is my cockatiel missing because she eats her droppings?
Cockatiel droppings contain B vitamins, vitamin C, Choline and amino acids. A lack in any of these could be the reason why your cockatiel is seeking out faeces to eat. The reason being is the body is not absorbing those minerals & vitamins and therefore it is wanting to replenish them.
Some people recommend Brewers yeast as an aid for cockatiels that eat droppings. We have not used it and can not give any personal feedback, but from all accounts that I have read it seems that it has helped. It may sound strange to be offering birds yeast and you might think that it will cause a yeast infection. However the yeast in the brewers yeast is not ‘live’ so should be safe, again we have not used it ourselves.
I guess the next question is then the most important.
Is my cockatiel going to die from eating it’s own droppings?
The scientific term for eating it’s own faeces is ‘coprophagy’, and is not uncommon in other species like rabbits. But in birds it is not normal behaviour. The short answer to whether your cockatiel is going to die directly from eating faeces, would have to be no. However research has shown that they can pick up bacteria from eating droppings which can lead to further complications. Certain parasites and internal bacteria can cause death in cockatiels.
What should I do if my cockatiel is eating droppings?
The best answer here is to get an evaluation by an avian vet. Ensure that blood and faeces are examined. As well as a general examination of your bird.
Even though your cockatiel is eating faeces and looking fine, this might be a sign that internally something is wrong and it could be suffering a dietary deficiency.
A cockatiel is prone to various parasites and unfortunately they are sometimes hard to diagnose. It could be these parasites that are making the cockatiel deficient in certain minerals & vitamins. Even though you are providing supplements in various forms, they are not being absorbed into the body of the cockatiel due to the presence of some parasite. Seek professional avian advice from a qualified avian vet.
What should i do to prevent my cockatiel from eating droppings?
The first thing you need to do is keep the cage super clean. That means changing the cage floor covering daily. If no covering and open bars are there, then these need to be scrubbed/wiped clean daily. Try not to allow any build up of droppings to occur. Keep a close eye on the general behaviour of your cockatiel and if in any doubt visit an avian vet.
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