There isn’t a lot that cockatiels can’t eat, so the other day when I was chatting with my friend who recently made a dish with cabbage, I was surprised to learn that he had been warned against feeding any to his cockatiel.
It seemed like a harmless enough vegetable to me, so I wondered why this would be.
Luckily, I had never given my cockatiels cabbage, and I do always carefully check if something is safe before I hand it over.
I was intrigued by the reason, so I looked into it.
So, can cockatiels eat cabbage?
No, they cannot. Cabbage won’t kill your cockatiel instantly, but it’s very harmful for a number of reasons including oxalic acid content and calcium depletion. So, it will mainly be harmful over a long period of time, but still fatally harmful, whether in the long or short term.
The answer is clear, then.
Cabbage is not safe for your cockatiel in any amount.
If you’re looking for a good variety of veg in their diet, there are countless great options but cabbage is unfortunately not one of them.
Let’s look further into this.
Is cabbage toxic for cockatiels?
Yes, it is, although not in the specific sense of containing a deadly toxin.
Your cockatiel will not die straight away, or even show any signs, necessarily, of the cabbage being a problem.
So, it’s not poisonous or toxic in that sense.
That said, it is profoundly harmful in the long run.
Cabbage is very high in a compound called oxalic acid.
This is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in many plants, such as a lot of leafy greens.
In cockatiels, and indeed many small parrots, is that oxalic acid inhibits the absorption of calcium.
Calcium is very important to birds, as it is to all living things.
Without it, the strength of bones and muscles will begin to break down, weakening your cockatiel.
Indeed, it’s also vitally important for egg laying.
So, what cabbage does in the diet is slowly depletes your cockatiel’s calcium levels.
While this won’t be a problem for it right away, it will as time goes on.
So, yes, cabbage is toxic for cockatiels, and you should never give them cabbage.
But there are more than a few kinds of cabbage—so is there any difference in them?
Can cockatiels eat white cabbage?
White cabbage is probably the worst offender, as greener vegetables do tend to contain higher concentrations of oxalic acid.
As I said, the naturally occurring compound is found in many plants in nature, and serves a variety of functions in the plants.
White cabbage contains the most oxalic acid, and is therefore the most dangerous to your cockatiel.
It is not safe for your cockatiel, and you should never let them eat white cabbage.
If you are thinking about adding more vegetables to your cockatiel’s diet, there are many better choices with similar nutrient characters to cabbage.
White cabbage is not safe for cockatiels.
Can cockatiels eat red cabbage?
Red cabbage is not much better, though.
Though it contains lower quantities of oxalic acid, it will still contain a very dangerous amount.
Indeed, there is no safe amount of oxalic acid in your cockatiel’s diet.
Red cabbage might seem like a different vegetable, but the nutrient content is essentially the same.
Again, you will always have the problem of oxalic acid content.
Can cockatiels eat savoy cabbage?
The answer, you probably are not surprised to learn, is still no. as you can see, the presence of oxalic acid is common across all cabbage varieties.
Whatever kind of cabbage it is, it is not going to be safe for your cockatiel in the long run.
There are as many as 400 different varieties of cabbage, and none of them are safe for your cockatiel.
So, we’ve covered the kinds—what about raw vs cooked?
Can cockatiels eat raw cabbage?
Raw cabbage is, doubtless, the most potentially problematic.
Though the difference is more or less negligible, as I will get into, raw cabbage is going to contain a large amount of oxalic acid than after cooking.
Raw cabbage is also just very tough, and presents a number of digestive problems anyway.
Oxalic acid aside, cabbage still isn’t the best choice for a cockatiel.
Just give them lettuce or carrots, or more or less any non-oxalic acid containing vegetable.
Can cockatiels eat cooked cabbage?
While the science is not entirely clear on this, it does seem as though a trace amount of the oxalic acid content is lost in the cooking process.
While this is perhaps worth mentioning, it doesn’t really change anything.
Cooked cabbage is still very dangerous for your cockatiel, and will potentially cause a serious mineral deficiency.
In general, anyway, if a vegetable is safer cooked than it is raw, then you’ve got an unsafe vegetable on your hands.
Your cockatiel’s diet should be the best approximation you can make of its natural diet. anything it would eat in the wild would be raw, obviously—while cooking might negate a tiny amount of oxalic acid, it won’t be enough to make a real difference.
Any kind of cabbage is potentially deadly to cockatiels, then. you might not think of it as a potentially harmful vegetable, but it definitely is.
It’s both harmful in the high content of oxalic acid and in that it will lead to calcium depletion and indeed broader nutrient depletion.
There is no safe variety and no safe way to feed cabbage to your cockatiels.