One of my favorite foods to grow in my garden is a vine ripe tomato.
No variety tastes as good as a truly homegrown, freshly picked tomato.
I struggle to even describe the difference to friends and family.
If I have any ripe and handy I’ll instead just pop one in their mouths to prove my point.
However, when a friend asked whether I share my treasured tomatoes with my birds I had to stop and check.
Can a cockatiel eat some tomato?
The answer is no, cockatiels can not eat tomatoes. They will probably eat tomatoes if they’re offered any, however fresh tomatoes are far too acidic for birds to digest comfortably. Additionally, as members of the nightshade family of plants, the vine and leaves of the tomato plant are poisonous and you should never feed them to cockatiels.
In this article we will look at what makes tomatoes dangerous, if cockatiels shouldn’t eat tomatoes why do they like them, are there any ways to incorporate tomatoes into their diet safely, and more!
Let’s not waste any more time and get right into it!
Why shouldn’t cockatiels eat tomatoes?
The main reason to keep your tomatoes to yourself is the high acidity.
Even though it may not cause an immediate issue, that acid will likely eventually upset your cockatiel’s stomach.
It could cause vomiting, even days later.
Cockatiels can also develop stomach ulcers.
If you have been letting your cockatiel eat tomatoes and they seem to struggle with stomach upset try removing the tomatoes from their diet.
The issue may clear up in a few days!
In fact, the acidity of tomatoes and tomato sauce can be a challenge for humans as well.
This aspect of tomatoes can often trigger heartburn or acid reflux.
So while we might typically be more tolerant of the acidity, this is actually a struggle humans and cockatiels share!
If cockatiels shouldn’t eat tomatoes why do some birds like them?
If you love a vine ripe fresh tomato as much as I do, you know that they can taste very sweet!
We also know that cockatiels, like many birds, like to eat sweet, sugary things.
That sweet tomato flesh disguises the acidity, which is why you might have already seen your cockatiel nibble on a tomato.
Because the tomato is not strictly poisonous but more of an irritant, your cockatiel may not realize what he is getting himself into.
What will happen if my cockatiel eats tomatoes?
Much like humans, it depends on your bird and how sensitive they are to the acid.
It is possible that nothing happens, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can keep eating tomatoes.
Stomach ulcers will take some time to form, so feeding tomatoes to a cockatiel may over time lead to this or other negative side effects.
They could also vomit as a reaction to the acid and stomach upset.
However, it is likely that when you stop feeding tomatoes to your cockatiel any damage to their digestive system will heal and everything will go back to normal.
What makes the tomato vines and leaves more dangerous for my cockatiel?
Tomato vines and leaves should never be fed to a cockatiel or other bird.
Rather than simply hard to tolerate, these parts of the plant are actually poisonous.
As members of the nightshade family of plants, tomato plants produce compounds classified as alkaloids, which are poisonous.
It is part of the tomato plant’s defense mechanism so that animals don’t eat it while it is growing and ripening its fruit.
The alkaloids are most concentrated in the leaves and vines, which is why you should never feed these parts of the tomato plant to your cockatiel.
These parts would likely taste bitter and your cockatiels would probably pass them over anyway, but better safe than sorry and keep them out of their food to begin with.
Can cockatiels eat sun dried tomatoes?
If you think your cockatiel will miss out on tomatoes there are a couple solutions.
They can actually safely eat dried tomatoes.
Much of the acid is lost in the drying process, which is the main concern.
Dried tomatoes are tougher than fresh tomatoes so be sure to chop them up if you decide to include them in your cockatiel’s diet.
This will make it easier for them to eat.
Remember that a dried tomato is somewhat concentrated so they won’t need much.
If you are using store bought sun dried tomatoes look for ones that are pure tomato, packed dry and without oil.
Is tomato sauce a safe alternative for my cockatiel?
Additionally, you could let your cockatiel enjoy a slurp of your tomato sauce as well.
Much like sundried tomatoes, tomato sauce loses some acidity when it is cooked.
Moderation is key again with tomato sauce, and be sure to either make some yourself to limit the ingredients or choose one that is as simple as possible at the store.
Is ketchup safe to feed to cockatiels?
Tomato ketchup is another clever solution.
However, many popular ketchups are very high in sugar.
Your cockatiel might love that idea, but they are depending on you to make sure their diet is balanced and to minimize empty calories that lead to weight gain.
There are some natural or organic ketchups which are lower in sugars.
Make sure to only ever use these as a rare treat.
You might be disappointed that you can’t share tomatoes with your cockatiel, especially since they’re one of the top vegetables to grow at home.
However, the risks just don’t make it worth it.
The tomatoes themselves are too acidic and likely to upset your bird’s stomach.
The rest of the plant, including the vines and leaves, are in fact poisonous.
Tomatoes are one fresh summer treat you’ll have to enjoy on your own.
Luckily, there are lots of other fresh fruits and vegetables your cockatiels can safely eat with far less risk and discomfort.