Budgies have some undesirable behaviors, such as eating their own poop. While coprophagia isn’t harmful, this behavior can signify problems that aren’t immediately apparent.
Budgies eat poop when they lack nutrients, so they’ll consume their own feces to glean extra nutrients by digesting the material a second time.
Your budgie may be bored, so it’s eating and chewing anything it can find to entertain itself, including its new and old droppings.
Poop is safe for budgies to eat, but it’ll become contaminated by bacteria if left unattended. This can be harmful to budgies to ingest, leading to infections and diseases.
Ensure that your budgie is fed nutritious foods and given toys to keep it occupied.
Is It Normal For Budgies To Eat Their Poop?
The technical term for poop eating is coprophagia. In some animal species, coprophagia is normal, expected, and necessary. For example, rabbits eat their caecotrophs (caecals).
While this is OK for some domesticated animal species, it isn’t normal for pet budgies. If a budgie is eating its own poop, you’ll need to check for other health symptoms.
In the wild, it’s normal to find budgies eating droppings. Coprophagia is a way for wild budgies to reach their dietary needs, as it’s essential for survival in locations where little food is available.
So, why is it bad for pet budgies and not for wild budgies? Pet budgies should have all their dietary needs met through the nutritious diet provided by their owners.
Unlike other pets, they don’t have an ingrained need for poop eating, so it’s a last resort. Budgies of all kinds only do this when they can’t get their nutrients from a superior source.
Coprophagia is most common among budgies fed a seed-only diet because they’re more limited in their sources of vitamins and minerals. Meanwhile, obligate coprophagic animals (like guinea pigs, rabbits, and chinchillas) use coprophagia to meet their vitamin B needs.
Why Is My Budgie Eating Poop?
Budgies eat their own poop for the following reasons:
Lack of Nutrients
If your budgie is eating its poop, it’s likely doing so because it’s not getting enough nutrients.
Since coprophagia translates to an unhealthy diet, this is a serious problem for pet budgies. They rely on their owners for all their meals and can grow ill or die without nutrient-dense intervention.
Coprophagia is most commonly caused by seed-based diets, leading to the consumption of poop in desperation. According to The Journal of Nutrition, budgies should only be fed a small number of seeds due to their high fat content and lack of nutritional value.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when feeding your budgie:
- 60% to 80% of a budgie’s food should be pellets, which are formulated and balanced.
- 20% to 25% of food should consist of fruits, vegetables, and dark leafy greens. Pick fruits and vegetables that are low in water and sugar yet high in nutrients and minerals.
- 1-2 teaspoons of varied seeds and nuts per meal, not just sunflower seeds. Sprouted seeds are always better than non-sprouted seeds.
A bored budgie will create its own entertainment by chewing and eating anything, including perches, cage bars, skin, feathers, and poop.
When boredom is allowed to continue, a budgie may show aggression, listlessness, and self-destructive behaviors. While boredom may seem ignorable, that’s not the case.
Budgies are intelligent parrots, capable of forming complex bonds, solving puzzles, and speaking. They can’t tolerate a lack of enrichment or mental stimulation.
Eating poop isn’t a solution but an unhealthy coping mechanism. If your budgie continues to eat its poop despite a good diet, increase its playtime.
Sources of enrichment include the following:
- Playing together with toys
- Learning tricks
- Teaching a budgie new words
- Petting sessions
If you’re pressed for time, try these sources of passive enrichment:
- Speak to your budgie (like saying “hi”) whenever you pass by.
- Doing an activity near your budgie or where your budgie can see you.
- Providing toys, hammocks, perches, and swings that it can play with inside its cage.
- Letting your budgie watch TV or listen to music on the radio.
Is Budgie Poop Harmful?
By default, budgie poop doesn’t contain anything that can harm a budgie. You won’t find any wild budgies getting sick from eating their poop.
However, when left out in the open, poop can become infected with bacteria, making a budgie sick. The dirtier the cage, the higher the risk of illness and disease.
Even if your budgie consumes new and fresh droppings without bacteria present, it indicates a mental or physical health problem. Your budgie is either going stir crazy or lacks dietary nutrients.
Is It OK For Budgies To Eat Their Poop?
A budgie’s poop isn’t initially harmful, but it can become more dangerous with time. It’s a behavior that, when left unresolved, won’t go away on its own.
Poop starts off clean and hygienic. However, bacteria can grow and multiply when left inside a cage to accumulate. Certain strains of bacteria can cause illness in budgies, some more serious than others.
Common bacterial strains that affect budgerigars include:
- Chlamydia psittaci
- E. coli
These bacteria can cause the following illnesses and diseases:
- Intestinal and respiratory diseases
Behavior Won’t Go Away
It’s not good to allow a budgie to eat its poop because it’s a sign of a more troubling issue.
In the wild, coprophagia is only done by budgies in an emergency. Wild budgies rely on the fact that they’ll find other food sources later on. Coprophagia is a temporary action that will tide them over until they find their next meal.
Pet budgies can’t fly off and find a more nutritious food source. Rather, it’ll be provided with the same amount of nutrients in its next meal, which is inadequate.
The same can be said for boredom. Eventually, a pet budgie will get bored of poop eating and resort to more drastic measures. Boredom can cause severe disorders, like feather plucking.
Coprophagia isn’t a medical emergency or a symptom of a disease. However, when left unaddressed, coprophagia can, directly and indirectly, lead to other medical issues.
Budgies that are bored will eventually become stressed, which can cause illness and feather plucking. A lack of nutrients makes budgies more likely to become ill.