If you’re new to the world of parakeets, you may be wondering what that white canoe-shaped thing is in your fellow parakeet lover’s cages.
Cuttlebone is a common addition to the lives of pet parakeets and can give them many health benefits.
But do they really need it?
The answer is, yes, parakeets should have cuttlebone in their cages. It is a great source of minerals that can be hard to get from parakeet’s diets alone. They also help to wear down their beaks, to prevent them from becoming overgrown.
In this article, we’ll explore all the basics you need to know about cuttlebone: what it is, the benefits it offers your parakeet, and how to help them use it.
We’ll also compare cuttlebone to other accessories you may want to offer your parakeet, such as mineral blocks.
What is a cuttlebone?
Despite the name, cuttlebone isn’t actually a bone! It comes from cuttlefish, which is equally poorly named as it’s not a fish.
Cuttlefish are cephalopods, putting them in the same group as octopus and squid.
The cuttlebone is an internal, hard, shell-like body part that helps cuttlefish to remain buoyant.
When a cuttlefish dies and decomposes, this “shell” remains and can be found in most pet stores.
What does a cuttlebone do for parakeets?
Cuttlebones are much more than just an accessory for your new parakeet’s cage, they are an important source of nutrients and can also help to keep their beaks healthy.
Some minerals are difficult for parakeets to access from their diet of seeds and fruit, such as calcium.
Some parakeets have individual preferences in taste for fruits and vegetables that are lower in calcium.
Calcium deficiency may lead to problems with your parakeet’s bones, beak, feathers, and toenails.
Cuttlebone can help to avoid this deficiency as it contains higher levels of calcium than most components of a parakeet’s typical diet.
Cuttlebone is also used by birds to rub their beaks against its rough surface.
This is because their beaks continue to grow even as adults, and an overgrown beak can make it hard for them to eat.
This means that scraping against the cuttlebone is an important part of your bird’s grooming processes.
It also gives your parakeet some jaw exercise to keep it strong!
How do you prepare cuttlebone for birds?
Many pet stores sell cuttlebone attached to clips to easily secure them in an accessible part of your parakeet’s cage.
If your cuttle bone does not have one of these, you can simply wedge it through the bars of the cage.
If these methods aren’t suitable for your bird, you can also try scraping of some cuttlebone and sprinkling it over your parakeet’s food.
How do I get my parakeet to use a cuttlebone?
If your bird isn’t keen on its cuttlebone, you can provide it with lots of other toys that it can chew on to prevent its beak from becoming overgrown.
There are also many strategies you can try out to persuade your parakeet to give cuttlebone a go!
Cuttlebones have a soft and hard side, which you can feel with your fingernail.
Most birds like the soft side, but your parakeet might prefer the harder side as all birds have their individual preferences.
You can move the cuttlebone to a more accessible location in your parakeet’s cage if it can’t get to it easily.
Some birds are intimidated by the size of a large cuttlebone, so you could even try turning it sideways to make it look narrower.
Because cuttlebones come from cuttlefish, they may have an aftertaste like that of seafood.
Your parakeet might find this revolting!
Try soaking the cuttlebone in water for eight hours to get rid of the fishy residue, this’ll make it tastier for your parakeet.
Scrape a little cuttlebone into your bird’s food dish using a knife or fork if it hasn’t used it for a month.
Finally, if your bird has stopped using its cuttlebone after previously enjoying it, you may need to replace it!
Older cuttlebones can become too hard for some birds to use.
Do cuttlebones expire?
The answer is, no, cuttlebones do not expire.
Some birds chew up their cuttlebones quicker than others, but it’s perfectly normal if your bird takes a few months to nibble its way through its cuttlebone.
Do parakeets need a mineral block?
Mineral blocks are another way to provide extra nutrition for your parakeet and keep their beaks in good shape.
In many cases, mineral blocks are not considered essential for keeping a parakeet.
You can make sure your parakeet gets enough calcium by providing it with a varied and balanced diet.
They are, however, very popular with parakeet owners because they are an optional way for your parakeet to get some extra calcium when it feels the need to.
Calcium is especially important for young birds or birds who are breeding.
Do parakeets need both cuttlebone and a mineral block?
Mineral blocks are very similar to cuttlebone, and some even contain cuttlebone and other calcium-rich sources.
Whether you give your parakeet cuttlebone, a mineral block, or both is down to personal preference.
Some owners prefer to give their parakeet’s cuttlebone because it is more natural.
Some parakeet parents have more success with flavored mineral blocks on the flip side because they taste better!
Many owners opt for both to give their parakeets maximum choice.
Cuttlebone is a really important source of calcium for your parakeet and also helps to keep their beaks in top condition.
They are a necessary feature in your parakeet’s cage, especially if they’re egg-laying females.
This article is a straight-forwards guide to cuttlebone for new parakeet parents.
We’ve talked about the benefits of cuttlebone for your bird, how to prepare it, and explained the difference between cuttlebone and mineral blocks.