Growing up we had so many chickens and turkeys, one of the weird behavior I observed was that sometimes these birds ate their droopings. My parents always had a solution to this problem. Fast forward I decided to do some research and understand what caused that behavior and how to solve it.
Below is what I learnt after hours of literature research.
So, why do birds eat their poop? Most birds eat their poop when they are suffering from nutrient deficiency such as minerals or vitamins. Other reasons why birds eat their poop especially parrots [conures, cockatiels, macaws] is due to boredom, cleaning the cage, or stress. The best way to treat or prevent your parrot or bird from eating their own poop is to provide a well-balanced diet, give them attention and provide them with enough play toys. If the behavior does not end you should consult a veterinarian.
Feeding your bird or parrot [cockatiel, conures, or any other parrot] a well-balanced diet will prevent them from eating their own poop this behavior is known as coprophagia.
Why does my bird eat its poop?
Research by avian experts shows that nutrient deficiency is the most common health challenge faced by most caged or pet birds and more so vitamin A.
Different life stages or the condition the bird is in needs different levels of some nutrients. For instance, a bird that is laying eggs or injured will need more minerals such as calcium in its diet.
When these birds do not get enough nutrients they will result in eating their own poops to try and get the minerals that their body may not have absorbed correctly.
For instance, a cockatiel fed a high percentage of seeds in its diet will suffer from a lack of enough vitamin E. As a result, these cockatiels will pass undigested seeds in their poop.
To try and compensate for the lack of enough nutrients these cockatiels will end up eating their poops so as to eat the seeds passed in the poops.
All birds wild or pet birds such as parrots need a well balanced diet that has proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins plus clean, fresh and chlorine free water.
To ensure that these recommendations are met, avian experts recommend feeding parrots with commercially made high-quality pellets. These pellets should make up the highest percentage of your parrot’s daily diet.
Secondly, your parrot should have enough fruits and vegetables, some seeds and nuts. But the highest percentage should always be made of the pellets.
Pellets are made with the nutrient requirement of the birds in mind to avoid deficiencies.
Parrots that are prone to eating their own poops due to lack of enough nutrients are ones that are fed an all-seed or nuts diet.
This is because nuts and seeds are vitamin and mineral deficient and are mostly fat loaded.
Lack of engagement or boredom
Most pet or caged birds will start playing with their poops when they get bored or lack enough engagement. If they do not have enough toys to play with poop becomes their next best toy to play with.
In the wild most birds gets enough exercise and fun to keep them well engaged. Plus the fact that they will have to keep alert to escape predators gives them enough issues to keep them engaged.
However, for their captive cousins, this is normally not the case. Pet birds like parrots spend most of their time in the cage.
As a result, they will become bored especially when they do not get enough attention from their owners or they do not have enough toys to play with.
Birds that are prone to boredom are most birds that can talk easily, these birds will most of the time need someone or something to talk to.
A list of birds that get bored easily and need a lot of attention and engagement include Macaws, cockatoos, African Greys and the amazon parrots ll of which can easily talk like the African Grey.
If you are busy most of the day, or you work for the better part of the day you should consider getting a parrot or a bird that does not need a lot of attention such as pigeons, doves, canaries, finches, cockatiels, Bourke’s parakeets, Pionus, and lovebirds.
As stated earlier, these birds that need attention will try to look for something to keep them occupied.
If their cages do not have enough toys to play with they will end up picking their poops to play with and may end up eating their own poop in the process.
While this is not the main issue that would lead your parrot or bird into eating its own poop. It would also make your parrot eat its own poop.
This issue would be seen among parrots that have been fed an all-fruit diet especially with fruits that tend to have a lot of sugars like strawberries and all berries.
The lack of proper digestion of these fruits will lead to some of the fruit material being passed in to the poop.
When birds pick up these poops especially when bored they will tend to eat them because of the sugary taste.
An all-fruit diet will also lead to minerals deficiencies since fruits have a poor mineral profile. As explained earlier, a parrot will try to eat its poop to get the mineral deficiency.
Stress can lead to the deficiency of some minerals such as potassium which is excreted faster when a bird is stressed.
When birds are stressed their kidneys excrete potassium at a high rate due to increased levels of plasma proteins.
High rate of excretion will also lead to loss of water soluble vitamins such as the group B vitamins.
Despite being required in trace amounts, these vitamins are very important for the health of the birds.
Cleaning the nest or cage
Birds like humans like a clean environment, this means that if you do not clean the cage of your bird. They will end up trying to do it for themselves like they do in the wild.
In the process of cleaning their cage, some parrots may be tempted to eat some of the poops especially if they have been fed a high fruit diet and the poops are a bit sugary.
Therefore, buying or adopting a bird please make sure you can take care of them and give them the attention they need.
If you are a very busy person get a person to help with taking care of the bird’s cage.
Is it bad for birds to eat their own poop?
It is bad an unhealthy for your bird or parrot to eat its own poop. You should strive to indentify the reason for the bird to eat the poop and find solutions immediately.
The poop eating behavior can cause very serious health problems especially if you are keeping two different birds in the sage cage.
Bacteria or harmfull micro-organisms from one bird’s gut may have different effects in the body of another bird.
If the cause of the poop-eating behavior is not corrected it can also lead to serious problems. For instance, if it was caused by a lack of nutrients and the issue is not corrected immediately it could lead to more serious health problems.
Finally, if the birds or parrots eat their own poop. It means that they will not eat a lot of food since they might be half full of poops in their stomach.
This means that they will not be able to eat enough food and get enough nutrients. In the long run, these birds will end up suffering from more nutrient deficiencies and may end dying.
How to prevent birds from eating their poops
The first and most important step when preventing birds from eating their own poops is to identify the problem causing them to eat their poop. Correct the problem immediately, either by offering a balanced diet, keeping your birds engaged, or cleaning the cage.
The first step is to start your bird on well balanced diet, if you have been feeding your bird an all seed or fruit diet, convert them to a pellet diet.
Pellets are made with all the nutrient requirements of a bird in mind. In fact, these pellets have a well nutrient balanced load such that they are supposed to make up the most percentage of your parrot’s diet.
Depending on the type of your parrot pet you can always get the right pellets for the parrot in the market such as from Amazon.
The most effective way to stop your parrot from eating its poop after offering a well balanced diet, is to clean the poops or have a cage that have a metal floor grate made of stainless steel to make it hard for the bird to access the poops.
Why do cockatiels, parakeets, conures, lovebirds eat their poop? The main reason parakeets, cockatiels, conures, or lovebirds eat their own poop is due to nutrient deficiencies, stress, lack of engagement or to clean their cage.
Is it OK for parakeets to eat their poop? No, it os not okay for parakeets to eat their own poop since they might end up suffering from infections. When a parakeet eats its own poop it will end up filling its belly with poop rather than pellets and will end up suffering from nutrient deficiency in the long run.
Why does my parrot eat dried poop? Like all other birds parrots will only eat their dried poop when they are suffering from a nutrient deficiency.
Why do birds eat their nestlings or babies poops? The main reason that the birds eat their nestlings poops is that nestlings do not digest their food properly, hence their poop still has nutrients that the birds take advantage of.
Always make sure that your bird or parrot consumes commercially high-quality pellets like the ones recommended from the beginning of this article to prevent your birds from eating its poop in search of nutrients. If even after observing the recommendation we have outlined above your bird or parrot doe not stop eating its poop. Consider seeking the advice of a bird veterinarian.
Are you wondering whether crows can help control the population of snakes in your yard or generally whether they eat snakes? We dug deeper into this topic, below we share our research. Do crows...
Are you wondering whether crows can eat small live animals such as rabbits? We did some digging to answer that very question. Do crows eat rabbits? Crows can hunt, kill and eat young, injured...