Do Budgies Need Grit or Gravel?

Feeding your budgie grit or gravel can lead to impaction of the crop.
Feeding your budgie grit or gravel can lead to impaction of the crop. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Budgerigars, also called budgies or parakeets, make colorful, cheerful and entertaining pets. They enjoy a fairly long life if they are healthy. To keep them healthy, do not give them grit or gravel. These can cause impaction of the crop. Grit and gravel is usually given to birds that eat whole seeds. Such birds have gizzards and require grit or gravel to hull the seeds. Budgies hull their seeds before eating and do not have gizzards.

Feeding Your Budgie

Budgies have precise dietary needs. They eat seeds, pellets, organic pellets, fruits and veggies. Feed pellets after soaking them in organic baby food and then mixing with seeds. Wash the veggies thoroughly and leave them between the bars of the cage. The budgie will play with the vegetables as though they are toys before eating them. Feed your budgie veggies such as carrot tops, dandelion greens, spinach, lettuce, silver beet, cabbage and most other green leafy vegetables. Place new food every day in the cage even if the seed bowl looks full. The bowl fill with seed hulls over time.

These birds have high calcium needs. Make sure your budgie has a cuttlebone for fulfilling this need.

Giving a Budgie Grit or Gravel

There is anecdotal evidence that some people actually feed their pet budgies grit and gravel without any problems. Commercially, there are two kinds of grit, insoluble and soluble, available at pet stores. Insoluble grit is composed of sand or granite particles and added vitamins and minerals. Supposedly the budgie absorbs the trace minerals and excretes the sand or granite particles. Soluble grit is available in the form of crushed oyster shells. However, most pet owners claim grit or gravel can cause the bird to develop digestion problems. The current opinion is that grit causes more harm than good. Also, when the bird walks on grit, it leads to chaffing of the feet. Instead of grit you can choose to give the budgie an additional supplement of minerals. If you are not sure about giving your pet budgie grit or gravel, consult an avian veterinarian.

Budgie Cage

Invest in the largest cage you can find. Budgies love flying in their cages and a large cage provides sufficient space for flying. Make sure that the bowls for food and water are made from nontoxic materials. Adding branches of varying sizes in the cage is a good idea. The budgie will use these branches for perching and exercising its feet. This prevents common foot problems such as bumblefoot and foot sores.

Budgie Beak Maintenance

The budgie’s beak grows continuously and it needs regular maintenance. If you leave a piece of plaster of Paris or cuttlebone, it helps the bird carry out the maintenance without any help. They trim their beaks back and if you notice they have not done it, trimming it manually is necessary. If the beak is too long, the bird will not be able to feed properly.

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