How to Get a Bird to Use a Cuttlebone

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Birds may need some encouragement before they will use a cuttlebone.
Birds may need some encouragement before they will use a cuttlebone. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

A cuttlebone is not actually a bone but rather the internal shell of the squid-like cuttlefish. Cuttlebones provide birds with essential nutrients like calcium and help wear down their beaks. A bird’s beak is constantly growing and needs to be worn down or it will become overgrown. Getting your bird to use its cuttlebone can be a matter of trial and error until you find something works. For each thing you try, give it about a week or two before trying something new.

Things You'll Need

  • Fork or knife
  • Bird toys

Provide your bird with plenty of other toys it can chew on if it doesn’t use the cuttlebone right away. The toys will help keep the bird’s beak from becoming overgrown.

Use a fork or knife to scrape a little of the cuttlebone into your bird’s food dish if it hasn’t used it within a month. Adding crushed eggshells to your bird’s food also works. In the meantime, keep encouraging your bird to use the cuttlebone.

Purchase a fresh cuttlebone. Older cuttlebones become too hard for some birds to use.

Flip the cuttlebone around so the other side is facing the cage. Cuttlebones have a soft and a hard side that you can identify with your fingernail. Most birds prefer the soft side; but some prefer the harder side.

Move the cuttlebone to a different location if your bird does not use it after a week or two. The cuttlebone should always be placed where your bird has easy access to it.

Turn the cuttlebone sideways. Some birds avoid cuttlebones because they are intimidated by their size. Turning the cuttlebone so it looks narrow can eliminate this problem. Most pet supply stores sell clips that will hold a cuttlebone sideways in a cage.

Soak the cuttlebone in water for about eight hours. Some cuttlebones have a fishy residue that makes it taste bad.

Cuttlebones come from cuttlefish and may have a fishy aftertaste.
Cuttlebones come from cuttlefish and may have a fishy aftertaste. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Tips & Warnings

  • Feed your bird a varied diet that includes more than just seeds. An all-seed diet is a major cause of overgrown beaks.

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