You may grow concerned if you find bugs in or near your budgie’s cage. Even if you clean the cage regularly, it may still be exposed to certain insects.
Aside from bugs being a source of irritation, you may find your budgie eating insects.
Wild budgies are omnivores that sometimes eat insects for protein and energy. Budgies may be domesticated, but they still retain many of their wild instincts, such as opportunistic feeding.
However, budgies should only eat insects sourced from reputable pet stores, including online retailers that sell insects specially bred for pet consumption.
Never feed a budgie insects you’ve captured outdoors, as they may carry parasites or be treated with deadly pesticides, leading to secondary poisoning.
What Insects Can Budgies Eat?
Pet stores and insect breeders develop bugs in safe, regulated environments.
Budgies can’t eat all types of insects, as some are toxic or have sharp appendages, which can cause damage to the crop, esophagus, or stomach.
Here are insects that budgies encounter in the wild:
There are many species of crickets, and some are even farmed for human consumption. People in Southern Asia, including Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, consume crickets as a snack.
Crickets are insects that many birds, including budgies, eat in the wild. Budgies rarely seek them out but find them accidentally in places where they forage for food.
For example, crickets can be found among trees and bushes and are a common pest among cereal crops. Once spotted, budgies will eat them as an opportunistic meal to add protein to their diet.
There are more than 10,000 species of ants. Like crickets, ants are also used as food in many cultures, including Thailand, India, and Mexico.
Ants can be eaten in all sorts of ways, too. They can be roasted, turned into paste, or included in a salad. Some cultures don’t just eat the ant but also egg and larvae in their dishes.
However, ants aren’t the safest form of protein for your budgie. Ants are small creatures with a wealth of natural defenses to protect themselves. The main one is venom called formic acid.
Some ants can squirt formic acid at their predators, which can irritate the eyes and other sensitive body parts. More importantly, formic acid makes ants taste bad.
Likewise, ants possess mandibles and stingers. The red fire ant, in particular, has a powerful stinger that can dose other animals with venom.
There are about 1 million fly species, and only about 4 are considered pests.
What separates flies from other insects, like bees and butterflies, is that they have no more than a single pair of wings. However, flies are important pollinators, second only to bees. Besides being pollinators, flies are also important in research, including genetics, forensics, and microbiology.
Some fly species are also common feeder insects, including black soldier flies and the common house fly larvae. Flies have few natural defenses that could irritate a budgie.
Never provide self-caught flies to your budgie. According to Scientific Reports, house flies carry many diseases. Using modern techniques, researchers determined blowflies and houseflies carried at least 33 bacterial species.
Flies can be unwieldy to feed; even when dead, they contain relatively low protein levels.
As a species, grasshoppers are among the oldest living groups of chewing herbivorous insects. They have been dated back to the early Triassic period, about 250 million years ago.
In the modern-day, grasshoppers are used as food in various countries, including Mexico, China, and Uganda. They’re also a common alternative for healthy and sustainable food sources.
For their size, grasshoppers are rich in protein and provide a thick, crunchy body for your budgie to enjoy.
Dead grasshoppers, as long as they haven’t been allowed to rot, also make good snacks. Budgies enjoy tearing off the various body parts and enjoying the fiber they provide.
Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies and moths. The name caterpillar comes from the combination of a Middle English word that translates to ‘cat’ and a Latin word that translates to ‘hairy.’
Caterpillars are an opportunistic snack for wild budgies, although they’re often a staple diet for other birds. You can safely provide your budgie with caterpillars if you ensure the species is safe.
Wild caterpillars employ different self-defense methods, making them dangerous for any pet to eat.
Many species are poisonous, some taking toxins from their host plants. Other species have spines and thorns. Some species can even detach these spines and thorns, lodging them into their predators’ skin or mucous membrane.
Some birds have adapted to these defenses. For example, the cuckoo removes the spines by rubbing caterpillars against a rough surface. Usually, birds know which caterpillars to avoid.
Store-bought varieties are non-toxic species designed to be consumed by reptiles and birds.
Beetles comprise about 40% of insects and 25% of animal life forms. There are an estimated 1 to 2 million beetle species worldwide.
Beetles are one of the most widely eaten insects, with about 344 species used for human consumption. Many species are used in folk medicine, and beetles are even a pet feed.
Most budgies, both wild and captive, enjoy feeding on beetles. They come in a range of sizes, most perfectly suited for being swallowed whole by a budgie.
The most common way for your budgie to find a beetle is in its seed. Bird seeds can become infested with common beetles, such as saw-toothed grain beetles, rust-red flour beetles, and grain weevils.
Wild birds regularly eat butterflies. Some species are poisonous, as they absorb the toxins from the plants they eat, such as the monarch butterfly and the pipevine swallowtail.
However, most species aren’t dangerous. Their self-defense strategies mostly employ mimicry to appear like toxic species. Other defense strategies include camouflage and an erratic flying pattern.
However, butterflies still aren’t great feeder insects. Larger varieties can be eaten, but most budgies will steer clear and observe the strange creature fluttering around their cage.
There are about 160,000 species of moths. Like butterflies, moths are also important pollinators.
Aside from pollination, moths are also important as feeder insects. Wild budgies eat moths, especially because they’re smaller than a butterfly. However, encounters are rare because moths aren’t regularly found in a budgie’s foraging route.
Nonetheless, moths are a healthy snack. They contain protein and limited vitamins while posing no risk of toxicity to your budgie. If you find them dried in a pet store, that’s even better.
Insects are a healthy food group for budgies. Your budgie will enjoy the snack if you choose the right variety and ensure they’re prepared accordingly.