Keeping parakeets as pets means that you need to ensure they meet their basic needs. Food and water are two important obligations. But what are their actual dietary requirements; specifically, how much, when and how long are they able to survive without food? I have spent a lot of time researching and would like to share my findings with you here today.
So, how long can a parakeet go without food? A parakeet can go one day, or 24 hours, without food. The short time span is because the Parakeet has such a high metabolism that they are continuously burning through the calories, and energy, that they consume. If they go longer than 24 hours without food, they can become very ill.
Thankfully, just because a Parakeet needs to eat regularly doesn’t mean that you can’t go away for the weekend. But it does mean that you will need to prepare in advance.
Unlike dogs, you can ensure they have a weekend’s worth of food and water without worrying about eating it all at once. There are even unique weekend feeders you and purchase that will slow release food for them.
Let us now take a closer look at the dietary requirements of this small parrot in great detail. We will look precisely at how much they need to eat, how often and other important considerations.
How Much Does a Parakeet Need to Eat?
Parakeets are finicky eaters, and it’s not so much about the amount of food you feed your Parakeet, but how you present it to them.
Parakeets only need about two teaspoons of seeds a day. However, the type of food and the dish used is essential.
Parakeets will only eat the top layer of food, so you should use a shallow dish with a broader circumference instead of a smaller, deeper bowl. This way, your Parakeet will eat more of their food, ensuring that they are getting enough to eat.
Feeding your Parakeet, a little bit, multiple times a day will ensure that they have an endless supply of food, and that if you forget one of their feeding time, they haven’t gone too long without eating.
You don’t need to feed your Parakeet a lot each time you give them food. The multiple feeds are more to get into a habit and ensure that your Parakeet will eat the food that they have by always giving them a new top layer for them to eat.
Overfeeding your Parakeet can become problematic, so be careful not to feed them too much at each feeding.
If you find that your Parakeet is putting on weight, pull back and only feed 1.5 teaspoons.
How Often Does a Parakeet Need to Eat?
Parakeets need to eat daily. Best practice is to ensure that they always have food in their cage, and they will peck at it throughout the day.
Parakeets do not have set mealtimes; they eat consistently throughout the day.
While you may only need to add food to their dish once a day, it is good to check at least once in the day to ensure that they still have food.
Not only that, but knowing they will only eat the top layer of food, even if there is food left in their dish, it’s important to shake their dishes or add some fresh food to the mix.
Getting an automatic feed dispenser is one such approach that many parakeet owners take. This is a perfect example, with great reviews, of one to get on Amazon. It fits seamlessly onto the cage and can ensure your parakeet has access to food at all times.
If you are feeding your Parakeet regularly but are finding that they aren’t eating for several hours, you may want to contact your veterinarian, which could mean that there is an underlying issue.
Contacting your vet is especially crucial if they are not showing interest in their favorite foods.
How Long Does It Take for a Parakeet to Starve to Death?
Parakeets can starve to death in 48 hours. Some animals can last weeks without food, so long as they have water, but Parakeets are different.
Their metabolism works so quickly that they become sick after about 24 hours of going without food and can perish within 24 hours.
Because they can become so sick so quickly is one reason why it is so important to check on the food levels for your Parakeet regularly.
Feeding them in the morning and then again at night is an excellent habit to get into, ensuring that they always have plenty of food and water.
Even if you forget to feed them at one of these times, you know that they ate within the last 24 hours or so, so again you can ensure they have had enough to eat.
To offset the feeding schedule and keep a continuous flow of food for your Parakeet, add in their fruits and vegetables at times other than their main feeding times.
Perhaps give them the fresh food in the middle of the afternoon.
Parakeets are also very sensitive to temperatures, and don’t do very well in colder climates, so it’s essential to keep them away from drafts and open windows.
If they go without food and have a cooler temperature, they could perish less than an average of 48 hours.
What Does a Parakeet Need to Eat?
Parakeets eat a mixture of food such as seeds, pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Parakeets are finicky eaters, and it’s best to research the best diets for them before you get your Parakeet, or at least as early as possible.
Many pet owners purchase seeds from the pet store, and these mixtures generally contain multiple different seeds. Parakeets will often pick one or two of their favorite types, leaving the others behind.
One type of seed that seems to be a favorite amongst Parakeets everywhere is millet seed. So, instead of wasting money on a seed mixture, where they won’t eat the majority of them, if you are going to feed your Parakeet seeds, perhaps feed them only millet seeds.
Pellets are a healthier selection over seeds; however, Parakeets tend to get addicted to seeds and find the transition to pellets difficult.
If your Parakeet currently eats seeds and you want to switch them to a pellet diet, start the change slowly, but first to add in some pellets to their seed mixture. Over time, add more pellets and less seeds, until they are entirely on a pellet diet.
Neither seeds nor pellets are a complete nutrition for Parakeets, and they need fresh fruits and vegetables to go with their primary source of food.
Parakeets do much better when their nutrition comes from multiple sources, so the more variety you can feed your Parakeet, the better.
About 10% of your Parakeet’s diet should consist of healthy fruits and vegetables. Instead of offering a massive mixture of fruits and vegetables at once, change up what you are giving them daily so that they don’t pick out favorites and leave other food behind.
Parakeets do not need a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, and just a couple of teaspoons a day will suffice, ensuring that they are getting the proper nutrients necessary to keep them healthy.
Parakeets may be finicky eaters, but overall, they generally require little care. Getting in a feeding habit will be essential to ensure they have continuous access to food. They will not eat their meals all at once, and they will peck at their food throughout the day.
If a Parakeet goes 24 hours without food, they can become very sick, and if they go 48 hours without food, they have a high chance of perishing. Due to their above-average metabolism, Parakeets do not store reserves in their bodies like people and cats do.
How you feed your Parakeet is just as important as how often. If you don’t correctly feed your Parakeet, your bird could still end up going 24 hours without food, even if there is some food left in their cage.
I wasn’t kidding when I said Parakeets are finicky eaters. When eating a seed mixture, they will eat their favorite ones and leave the others behind. They also will only eat the top layer of seeds, potentially leaving a lot of food behind.
Not feeding them a mixture of seeds and putting the single seeds in a large, shallow container will ensure that they are getting the optimum amount of food without you have to waste any and, in turn, waste money.
Parakeets need to have at least 10% of their diet made up of fresh fruits and vegetables. Just like with the seed mixture, if they are fed several different types of food all at once, they will tend to pick out their favorites and leave the others behind.
Every day feed them something different so that they don’t form favorites. It is also essential to feed them a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as it is vital for them to receive their nutrients from different sources.
If you feed them seeds or pellets in the morning and at night, and fresh fruits and vegetables in the middle of the day, you will always have enough food, and won’t go long periods without access to food.
Be careful that you don’t overfeed your Parakeet. You may be feeding your bird often, but Parakeets only need a couple of teaspoons a day to keep them healthy. If you find your Parakeet is getting too big, drop down to 1.5 teaspoons so that they don’t get too overweight.
Contact your veterinarian if you notice that your Parakeet has gone several hours without touching their food, especially if they do not show any interest in their favorite foods.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.