Most animals have one central drive: to eat and survive. That can make it puzzling when your budgie suddenly refuses to eat its food.
You may wonder if it’s going on a hunger strike or if something is wrong with its health. Unfortunately, budgies don’t always start eating because they’re hungry.
Budgies can starve themselves when sick, injured, stressed, afraid, or dislike their food. For example, a budgie may be incapable of eating due to a crop issue or overgrown beak.
Many illnesses and diseases (fungal, bacterial, and parasitic) list the loss of appetite as a symptom.
Budgies can die in 24 hours without food and water. So, you should take your budgie to the vet, separate it from cage mates, and introduce dietary changes.
Sometimes, offering favored foods and water dishes will make your budgie feel safe and comfortable enough to eat again.
How Long Does It Take For A Budgie To Starve?
Budgies are small parrots that burn through calories rapidly. That’s why they eat little and often.
The Journal of Nutrition found that budgies need 48-128 kJ a day to maintain body mass and produce enough daily energy. Budgies expend most energy when flying.
Budgies will starve to death within 24-48 hours due to their fast-paced metabolism and limited fat reserves. That’s why wild budgies spend most of their day foraging for fresh, nutritious food.
A budgie will experience lethargy, organ failure, and low immune health if it doesn’t eat. If a budgie doesn’t eat or drink, it may not survive for 24 hours.
Why Is My Budgie Not Eating?
Before you can get a budgie to start eating again, you need to understand why it has stopped eating. Only that way can you remove the cause of inappetence.
Explanations for the sudden loss of appetite in budgies include the following:
Budgies can be stubborn and hesitant about new foods, especially when their diet is modified overnight. Not introducing new foods correctly may result in a budgie refusing to eat.
This commonly occurs in budgies transitioning from a seed-only diet to a more balanced, formulated diet. Budgies love seed and millet.
To avoid problems, introduce new foods over several weeks.
Budgies may go on hunger strike if their cage or feeding dishes are messy. Failing to clean out poop or scrub down perches will be offputting to birds.
If their food dish contains stale or rotting food, they may refuse to eat what’s available.
Budgies instinctively know that they’re vulnerable to mold, so they’ll avoid eating moldy food. Aspergillus molds are a leading cause of respiratory disease in birds.
The budgie doesn’t want to starve itself, but it doesn’t feel safe eating what’s inside its cage.
Budgies are accomplished at hiding physical injuries, which makes it hard to provide medical assistance.
A budgie may avoid eating when injured for two main reasons:
- Pain adversely affects appetite
- Injury makes it difficult or impossible to eat
Pain has far-reaching impacts on the body, and it can discourage budgies from eating. In fact, specific injuries can make it impossible for a budgie to eat.
For example, a budgie with spinal issues or a broken wing will likely be physically unable to reach its food dish, regardless of whether it likes what you’re providing.
AFA Watchbird describes the loss of appetite as a clinical sign of a viral disease in parrots. The same applies to many illnesses that afflict budgies, be they bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic.
A loss of appetite indicates that the illness has progressed to where veterinary intervention is essential. A budgie may die within a day if action isn’t taken to treat the condition.
A refusal to eat due to illness may indicate that the problem is contained within the digestive system. Internal blockages, parasites, and inflammatory illnesses can cause severe digestive discomfort.
Also, a budgie may be unwilling to eat because it has reached the end of its life. In its twilight years, the first sign that a budgie is about to die is a refusal to eat its meals.
Budgies are highly-strung birds. A budgie that’s persistently stressed will be less inclined to eat.
Usually, a one-off event, such as bumping its cage, will see them calm down and eat before the day is out. Persistent stressors can have far-reaching consequences, such as predatory pets (cats) and loud noises.
Stress is common among new budgies as they adjust to your home environment. A budgie introduced to a new environment can take days to weeks to become comfortable in its home.
Budgies live in large flocks in the wild, but that doesn’t mean they always get along. Hostility can occur when budgies are housed together, especially if the cage is overcrowded with limited resources.
Territorial or dominant budgies pick on other budgies, even escalating to aggression. Aside from stressing the bullied budgie, the dominant budgie may stop them from eating by guarding food and water bowls.
You can resolve this by separating the budgies into different cages or providing a much larger cage with sufficient resources to meet the needs of all birds.
What To Do If Your Budgie Isn’t Eating
Confirm if the budgie is refusing all food by offering a variety of different meals, including:
- Seed mixes
If nothing can entice them to eat, observe how it’s behaving more broadly.
When doing so, look for other signs of illness or injury, such as:
- Excessive sleeping
- Labored breathing
- Tail bobbing
- Feather loss
After that, examine the budgie itself, noting the following:
- Is the budgie behaving normally?
- Is the budgie hiding and ignoring you?
- Are there other companion budgies preventing them from eating food?
Ensure your budgie is in a quiet, calm area of the house, free of foot traffic and other unwanted stressors. If you fear that your budgie is unwell, quarantine them from other birds until you get a medical diagnosis. Ensure the budgie is comfortable and always has easy access to fresh food and water.