A diet of seed and fresh foods should satisfy most of your parakeet’s dietary needs. However your birds will still need some more calcium and other vital minerals
Cuttlefish bone, or cuttlebone, should be a staple part of your parakeet's diet. Most pet stores sell cuttlebone that easily clips onto the side of your cage so that your birds can have a nibble whenever they please. Make sure that your parakeet has access to the softer, inner side of the bone. Their beaks can’t break through the harder parts!
This cuttlefish “bone” isn’t actually a bone at all. It comes from the cuttlefish, a close relative of the squid. They are cephalopods, members of the mollusc family, and have an internal shell-like body part which acts as a buoyancy aid. When a cuttlefish dies, this part of the body remains. This hard body part is what you will find in your local pet shop.
Cuttlefish bone is made largely from aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Calcium is often added to parakeet feed, usually in the form of small shell fragments. Your birds will not overindulge on this, though, and providing some extra calcium is a must. The cuttlefish bone will safeguard your bird from calcium deficiency and also gives them a lot of pleasure.
Try to place the cuttlefish somewhere accessible-by a perch is probably your best bet. If the cuttlefish bone gets covered in droppings, simply remove it from the cage, give it a scrub with a wire brush and place it back in the same place. If any liquid gets onto the cuttlebone, it will become inedible. It absorbs water, so you won’t be able to wash it.
Note: some books and websites may tell you that a cuttlefish bone can help keep a bird's beak ground down to size. This is untrue. A parakeet’s beak will not grow overly long unless the bird has a diseases in which beak growth is one of the symptoms.
Parakeet Mineral Block
Mineral blocks fulfil a similar function to cuttlefish bone, providing extra nutrition for your birds well being. Even if it seems that your parakeet has no interest in it, he will take a bite when he needs it, and you won't have to worry about mineral deficiency.
All pet stores with a bird section will stock mineral blocks complete with clips to attach them to the cage. Check the ingredients before buying, though, and avoid any product that contains manmade substances (charcoal is fine) or artificial coloring or flavorings.
A mineral block supplements a parakeet's diet
Some breeders prepare their own blocks, using a mixture of ground-up shell (oyster, etc), fine mineral grit, crushed eggshell (from chickens), charcoal, cuttlefish bone and a fine calcium powder (such as Plaster of Paris) for binding. The mixture, once water is added, will form a gloop somewhere between porridge and cement, and can be put into plastic cups or egg boxes to dry. The plastic cup will stick to the side of the mineral block and will need to be removed with a knife before serving to the parakeets. The egg box will also stick, but you don’t need to be as fussy removing all traces of it before serving, as the birds will nibble off the remains, and it’s harmless.
It may sound easy, but make sure to always check with an expert before giving it to the bird. Some sources may be misleading or have incorrect information
Parakeet Food Clips
Cuttlefish bones and mineral blocks can be attached to cages with plastic clips or similar, non-toxic ties. However you shouldn’t worry about this, as most will come with a clip already attached.
Lorna, 8 July 2022
Our budgie loves standing on her cuttlefish while she eats (like a surf board), her old cage has horizontal bars so we push the cuttlefish through the bars and it holds it well. We have just bought her a Geo cage and we can’t work out how to fix her cuttlefish in so she can still have her ‘surfboard’, any suggestions?