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Can Cockatiels Eat Mealworms? [Is There Benefit In Doing So?]

Knowing what you can and should feed your cockatiel will go a long way to ensuring that your bird lives a long, happy and healthy life. But what about mealworms and other insects? Can they be offered and are their any benefits in doing so? I decided to conduct some research which I will be sharing with you here today.

So, can cockatiels eat mealworms? Cockatiels can eat mealworms and many enjoy doing so. Cockatiels in the wild are known to eat insects and other types of bug, so it does come naturally to them. There are a lot of benefits that a cockatiel can derive from mealworms including protein, vitamins, and calcium. However, mealworms should be fed as a treat and in moderation – 1-3x per week at most.

Cockatiels eating mealworms and other insects for that matter is an often discussed topic among owners. I’d like to address these questions and apprehensions here today.

Let us now take a closer look at why they can be introduced to a cockatiels diet, and why, you may actually want to do so.

Cockatiel Dietary Requirements

Cockatiels that obtain proper nutrition are drastically more chirpier than those that do not. They are more active, alert, have a better coat of feathers and generally live longer.

Cockatiels need protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals just like us humans; and they all support a number of essential functions and processes within their bodies.

Avian veterinarian Gary Gallerstein reports that birds must obtain around a dozen vitamins to stay healthy. These include: A, D, E, F, K, B1, B2, B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folic Acid) and Choline.

However, commercial seeds (which are mostly deficient in protein, many vitamins and minerals) are commonly provided and overused. This is due to the fact that they are inexpensive and there is a misunderstanding of what wild birds routinely consume. Sure, wild birds eat seeds, but they also eat an abundance of vegetation, insects and crops.

As such, nutrition is often lacking in pet birds. A lot of owners assume they are feeding a healthy diet to their cockatiel; failing to realize that they are in fact exposing their birds to a wealth of potential health issues.

Dr Colin Walker, avian care specialist at the Melbourne Bird Veterinary Clinic, states that one of the biggest errors we make as cockatiel owners is a reliance on too much dry seed. He stresses the importance of protein (especially specific amino acids such as methionine, choline and tryptophan) and calcium in the diet. Yet a lot of commercial bird seeds and pellets fail to provide this.

Calcium is one such mineral that cockatiels must have. They need more calcium then phosphorous (in a 2-1 ratio) or otherwise they can suffer from osteoporosis and reproductive problems. Calcium is even more important during particular stages of your birds life, like when they are laying eggs (which require extra calcium to produce).

Nutrition of Mealworms

In Nutritional Value of Mealworm, scientists conducted thorough micro-analysis of mealworms and what they can provide from a nutritional perspective. The results are impressive. So much so, that they are being considered as more recommended potential food source for animals and even us humans.

Mealworms provide not only a good quantity of protein (and most of those amino acids often lacking in a cockatiels seed-heavy diet) , but they are also abundant in the following minerals:

  • Calcium,
  • Potassium,
  • Iron,
  • Magnesium,
  • Zinc
  • Copper
Source: Nutritional Value of Mealworm

Outside of just minerals alone, mealworms are abundant in the many vitamins and minerals that cockatiels often lack:

  • Vitamin A,
  • Vitamin D,
  • Vitamin E,
  • Vitamin K,
  • B-Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folic Acid)
  • Choline.
Source: Complete Nutrient Content of Four Species of
Commercially Available Feeder Insects

As you can see, mealworms are very rich in a whole host of components that a cockatiel needs to thrive.

How To Serve Mealworms

Mealworms

So now we know that mealworms are one of the best sources of nutrition that you can offer your bird. But how do you go about providing them?

First and foremost, you need to ensure that you get mealworms from a clean and reliable source. You do not want the mealworms to be contaminated or be a mixture of other types of inferior worm.

I routinely buy this excellent brand of mealworms from Amazon. The mealworms are far superior to any other brand I have used in the past and my cockatiel thoroughly enjoys them. It is cost effective, easy to store and the bag can be resealed to ensure freshness and use throughout the year.

Now, it is important to note that despite their high nutrition status, mealworms should be fed in moderation. A good rule of thumb to follow is 1-3x per week. More often if you are providing smaller quantities, less often if you want to provide more in any one sitting.

However, it is best to serve a small amount at a time and introduce them slowly. This way, you can see how your cockatiel responds to them and if they do enjoy consuming them.

Here are you options when it comes to feeding:

  1. Feed them separately – firstly, you can always offer the mealworms in a separate bowl or offer them on their own. This will enable you to effectively see if your bird enjoys eating them and sometimes, is easier to manage how much they are eating. If you do this, it is often a good idea to cut the mealworms up into smaller pieces.
  2. Serve With Other Foods (Fruits/Vegetables) – if your cockatiel does not express much preference for mealworms, or refuses to eat them, a good way to get your bird to get them in their diet is to mix them in with other fruits and vegetables. You can create a small medley which will enable them to eat them alongside tastier or more sweet foods. Like strawberries for example. Again, consider cutting them up more finely to ensure they are eaten.

Final Words

Cockatiels can eat mealworms. In fact, I would thoroughly recommend that you purchase this brand from Amazon and feed them to your bird(s).

Mealworms are one of the most concentrated sources of nutrition; there is a wealth of protein, vitamins and minerals present in small quantities. All of which will help to serve the health of your bird.

Cockatiels, and other pet birds, are renown for not getting the nutrition they need to thrive. Adding a small amount of mealworms infrequently is a surefire way to ensure that you are no neglecting their needs and requirements.

Ultimately, any adjustment that you can make to your birds diet that allows it to more closely align with and mimic a birds wild diet will support the overall health of your bird. Mealworms offer an affordable, practical solution!