Whenever we are talking about birds and their food, one word will always come up. It’s a cuttlebone. Based on all the things that you can read about birds and their dietary needs, it is like a staple food for these feathered buddies.
Parakeets are one of the most common avians that love to munch on this treat. It is not surprising, and it’s not just the parakeets. Most birds adore cuttlebones in more ways than one.
What is a cuttlebone?
Also known as cuttlefish bone, it is composed of a hard and brittle coating with a soft internal shell. It is made up of aragonite that creates calcium carbonate. There has been a lot of known uses for it. Cuttlebones are used by goldsmiths as polishing power, toothpaste component, and even as an antacid. You may not have heard about all those. It’s because these days, the word cuttlebone is commonly used as an integral part of a diet for caged animal pets like birds.
What can you get from cuttlebones?
Why is cuttlebone a favorite for parakeets? The reason is that it is packed with a nutrient essential for birds. If you want to know more why these birds love it, keep reading. Here are the things that a cuttlebone gives your pets.
Even though you are doing everything to give your pet a balanced diet, there is usually one mineral that is lacking. Birds usually suffer from calcium deficiency. When you give them cuttlebones, they can get a steady supply of calcium.
A cuttlebone is composed of 85% calcium. There is no surprise that your parakeet can benefit from it. This mineral is imperative for the growth of the bird’s toenails, beaks, bones, and feathers.
The parakeet’s beak is made up of keratin, so there is a tendency to grow, and old parts will be worn out. The birds use their beaks to munch on the cuttlebone. This way, they are already maintaining any overgrown beaks.
Parakeets are playful creatures. They need to be kept entertained. Cuttlebones are for eating, but this is also a good toy that your birds can play with. Don’t forget that these birds get lonely, and you want to avoid that.
If your bird is ready to lay some eggs, it is best if they will have a regular boost of calcium. This way, their eggs can develop correctly and avoid complications. A cuttlebone can provide the required calcium for the eggs as well as strong bones for the female parakeet.
The right way of giving cuttlebone
There are many ways that a cuttlebone can be given to your pets. When you buy one from the store, it comes with a couple of clips or wires that can be used to put it on the cage or maybe hang it. The only risk is that these clips tend to rust.
Another option that you can use is cable ties. But, if you want to add additional fun time for your parakeets, just stick it sideways on the cage. You can also just leave it at the bottom and let your pets kick and toss it.
It doesn’t matter how you give the cuttlebones to your pets. The important thing is the nutrients they can get from it. You need to ensure the intake balance. If you’re not careful, it can create some problems.
Calcium deficiency on birds
Cuttlebones are not the only source of calcium for birds. They can get it from fruits and vegetables too. There is only a little problem with that. Since it is taken through the food they eat, once the food is digested, it also flushes out of their bodies.
The calcium from fruits and vegetable are not easily absorbed by their bodies. For this reason, cuttlebones are recommended as the calcium it contains can be absorbed quickly. Also, it is cheaper than other sources of calcium.
We often hear about calcium deficiency. We should not forget, though, that anything too much is bad. Your parakeets can also suffer from calcium overdose. If this happens, there is a chance that your bird will develop vitamin d toxicosis.
If your parakeet develops this disease, their kidney will be at risk. The result is as bad as having a calcium deficiency. Your pet can develop gout too. You must keep it balanced to ensure the health of your pets.
Like people, birds differ from one another. Some picky parakeets don’t want to eat or even play with cuttlebones. What should you do? Here are some tips on how your picky pets can still consume calcium from cuttlebones.
One option that you can do if your parakeet is picky is to break it. Cut the cuttlebones into small pieces and add it to their food. This way, your pets will not be able to notice that they are already eating it.
If your pet is too intelligent to still notice that there are small bits of cuttlebones on their food, there is still one more option that can be done. Take your mortar and pestle out and start grinding. The cuttlebones will then turn into a powdered substance. This way, it will be easier for you to incorporate calcium into their diet. And, they won’t even notice.
Where to get cuttlebones?
Looking for a cuttlebone? No need to worry. Just go to any pet stores, and it is available. The best part is, it’s not expensive. Cuttlebones that are store-bought are pre-sterilized and ready to eat.
You can also do it yourself. If you have the luxury of living near the beach, some cuttlebones are washed up on the shores. Just don’t give it yet because you need to do some preparations.
- Put all the cuttlebones you have collected in one pot
- Soak it in water
- Add a little vinegar
- Leave it for 24 hours (with time to time water change)
- Boil the cuttlebones with fresh water for 10 minutes
- Leave it to dry
Once the process is finished, you can give it your pets already. Getting cuttlebones for free though does not mean you have to overfeed your parakeets with it. Make sure it is given in a controlled phase. It is for their benefit as well as their beaks. You wouldn’t want those bills trimmed too short, right?
Cuttlebones are essential to your parakeets’ diet. It carries the needed calcium for your pets. Keep in mind that there is no specific way of how birds should consume a cuttlebone. It differs. Each pet has their preference for how they want it. As pet owners, you just need to adjust based on their needs.
The most important thing to remember is to keep it balanced. Too many cuttlebones can trigger an ailment. Too less can cause health problems. You give them too much of it can sometimes cause deformity on beaks. It is good to harness their bills, but if they overdo it, how much more beak will be left? Now that you know the different things on how to help your parakeets to take cuttlebones the right way, time to test it. Take that cuttlebone and give it your pet.