An all-seed diet is unhealthy, but it can be difficult to transition a budgie to pellets.
Budgies can be fussy eaters, and pellets aren’t the most colorful or texture-heavy food. It’s especially difficult if your budgie loves eating seeds and eats nothing else.
To get a budgie to eat pellets, add some pellets to a seed mix to establish familiarization with the new food. Then, add water to the pellet-seed mix so that the seeds adhere to the pellets and your budgie eats both together.
Perform the transition slowly, so your budgie doesn’t go on a hunger strike.
Budgies are picky eaters that are more likely to refuse to eat than try new foods. You don’t want your budgie growing malnourished or ill while you make this transition.
Should Budgies Eat Pellets or Seeds?
Seeds are a healthy addition to a budgie’s diet as they’re high in minerals, have enough fat to boost energy, and encourage a budgie to shell them, which serves as enrichment.
Unfortunately, owners often take this too far and provide a seed-only diet. According to Vet Times, an all-seed diet is poorly balanced and unhealthy. Even if you choose healthier seed mixes, budgies will often pick out the seeds they want and leave the rest, limiting the nutrients they receive.
Pellets are carefully formulated diets that contain the right balance of nutrients for specific budgie species. Of course, they’re not a complete diet, and budgies still need variety to stay healthy. That means they should be paired with fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and seeds.
Eventually, your goal should be to serve a diet for your budgie that consists of 70-80% pellets.
Why Won’t My Budgies Eat Pellets?
Often, budgies won’t eat pellets because they don’t recognize them as food. Other times, they won’t eat pellets because they’re mixed in with seeds.
Seeds have a fattier taste than pellets, which is pleasing to budgies. When given the choice, they’ll choose the tastiest option, leading to budgies picking out the seeds and leaving the pellets behind.
According to the College of Zoological Medicine, the leading cause of poor nutrition in budgies is a lack of awareness of a budgie’s dietary needs and the availability of varied, nutrient-rich foods.
How to Convert Your Budgies to Pellets
If your budgie refuses pellets, there are ways to change its mind:
1/ Transition Slowly
Replacing its food wholesale will often result in a budgie going on a hunger strike, which is damaging to its health. Instead, add a small number of pellets to the seed bowl and mix them with the rest.
A picky budgie may still sift through the meal to pick out the seeds. As it does so, it’ll become familiar with the smell and texture of the pellets.
Eventually, it may be curious enough to have a taste. For more adventurous budgies, the interest in foraging through different textures may be enough to convince your budgie to sample the new food.
If your budgie takes to the pellets within the first week, you can swap out more of the seeds with a greater portion of pellets. Over time, keep increasing the number of pellets and decreasing the number of seeds.
2/ Add Water
While some budgies are curious, others are stubborn. In this event, you can take extra measures to trick the budgie into at least tasting the pellets.
Add about a teaspoon of pellets to the seed bowl and pour a small amount of warm water into them. Allow the water to sit for a while as the pellets become soft and break apart.
After a few minutes, add the regular serving of seeds for your budgie. The pellets will stick to the seeds and become hard for your budgie to pick out.
At this point, even if the budgie doesn’t particularly enjoy its meal, it’ll at least get a taste of the pellets. With persistence, your budgie will eventually realize that pellets are also food.
Gradually keep increasing the number of pellets you soak in water over time until your budgie appears to start liking them. At this point, you can increase the pellets to 70-80%.
Then, start decreasing the amount of water so that the pellets your budgie is eating are back to their original texture.
3/ Other Foods
The budgie may be picky and hesitant to try anything new.
Pellets aren’t the most colorful or interesting meal available, so the budgie may have the most difficult time transitioning to them first. To rectify this, try converting your budgie to other new and interesting foods beforehand.
Try feeding your budgie vegetables to replace half of its regular serving of seeds. You can also try fruits, nuts, or grains. Once it’s warmed up to the idea of trying new things, pellets will seem like a fun new option as well.
4/ Different Kinds of Pellets
It’s reasonable to assume your budgie’s refusing pellets because it doesn’t like the taste or texture.
In this event, start by experimenting with different shapes, sizes, and brands of pellets. Always begin the process with pellets free from artificial flavors or coloring.
Here are tricks you can use to make the new food seem more appealing:
- Crushed pellets. You can sprinkle them over the seed mix, so the budgie is forced to eat some.
- Hand feeding pellets. If you regularly offer your budgie treats, it’ll begin to view the pellets as a rare reward.
- Praise. This will teach it that eating pellets is preferred behavior. Do this even if the budgie doesn’t eat them.
- Pretend to eat the pellet. Over time, the budgie will realize that it is food and wish to try it for itself.
- Cover the seed bowl with pellets. This ensures they have to interact with the pellets to get to the seeds at the bottom.
6/ Avoid Starving
Make sure you don’t starve your budgie into eating pellets. This will not work, as the budgie may refuse all food and get sick rather than eat the pellets. Worse than the strategy not working, the budgie could get sick or die.
Switching your budgie from seeds to pellets is a gradual process of weaning, and the transition can take from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the individual bird.
Monitor your budgie’s weight as well as its number of droppings during the transition period. This will ensure that you’re not affecting their health negatively. Only start the food transition if your budgie is healthy.
Recommended Pellets for Budgies
Not all pellets are made for budgies, so it’s wise to find the types marketed for parakeets. These will be formulated for small birds in general, with nutrients packed in to round out your budgie’s dietary needs.
Recommended pellets for budgies are the ZuPreem Natural pellets. Most of these options come with natural vitamins. Another choice of ZuPreem’s pellets is a fruit blend, known as ZuPreem Fruitblend Small Keet Food. These may be ideal for budgies that prefer colorful, fruit-flavored meals.
Budgie Refuses to Eat Pellets
If no matter what you do, your budgie is refusing to eat pellets, this only means that you have to be more patient and persistent in your efforts. Budgies are selective eaters and need to be trained to sample new foods.
Sure, your budgie’s refusal can mean that you need a different type or brand of pellet. In most cases, budgies refuse to eat pellets because they don’t recognize them as food.