When you first get a pet, it can be hard to figure out whether they are overweight or not, especially if your pet is a budgie. While most of us know what a fat cat or dog looks like, we don’t have the same reference for our birds. So when your budgie first starts gaining weight, it can be easy to assume that they are bloated or have other health issues.
Fortunately, we are here to help you navigate this tricky situation. Today, we will teach you how to identify a fat budgie and what to do about it. So if you’ve ever had questions on this topic, you’ve come to the right place – we have all the answers here!
Can budgies be overweight?
While many bird owners don’t talk about it, obesity is actually common among pet birds like budgies. This is commonly caused by a high-fat diet and lack of exercise. Since birds held in captivity are sometimes fed a lot of seeds and have their wings clipped, they don’t usually burn as much fat as they need to.
So as far-fetched as it may seem, budgies can be overweight. This can lead to diseases like fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis, making them susceptible to heart attacks and strokes.
Is your budgie fat? How do you know if your budgie is overweight?
If you suspect that your budgie is fat, here are a few ways that you can confirm your suspicions:
Check if they have “cleavage”
Birds usually have a bone running down their midline known as a keel. On both sides of this bone, there is a rounded muscle whose size changes depending on whether your bird has lost or gained weight. If the bird has gotten skinny, these muscles will feel bony and look curved in.
But if your bird has become fat, these muscles will be curved outward and form a “cleavage”. Visually this is one of the first signs that your bird is overweight.
Look for subcutaneous fat
Another way to know whether your bird is fat is to look for subcutaneous fat. This is particularly visible in body parts that are featherless. So if you check the side of your bird’s neck starting from their jaw’s base while parting their feathers, you can easily check for this. Generally, if you see the jugular vein there, your bird isn’t overweight.
But if it’s difficult to see and you notice a yellow tint under the skin, your bird has gained a significant amount of weight.
Check for breathing difficulties
If your budgie’s breathless after the smallest amounts of exercise, this is a sign that they are getting fat.
Check whether your bird’s beak has gotten longer
If your bird’s beak keeps getting longer and longer, they could have fatty liver disease; a disease linked to obesity.
Weigh your bird
Ultimately, one of the best ways to check whether your budgie has become fat is to weigh them and compare their weight to previous figures. If you keep up with your bird’s annual vet visits, this shouldn’t be hard – your vet usually weighs your bird during every checkup and has records of this.
How much should my budgie weigh?
On average, a budgie should weigh 26 to 36 grams (0.9 to 1.3 ounces)
How big will my budgie get?
As much as budgies are small birds, they do grow significantly throughout their lifespan. While a fledgling can weigh a meager 2 grams and be only 2cm long, an adult budgie can weigh 40 grams and measure up to 20 cm in length. Adult budgies also have around 30 cm in wingspan. Aside from their size, you can also tell adult budgies apart by their yellow forehead and face.
Why does my budgie look puffy?
While many people first start to suspect their budgies are fat when they start looking puffy/fluffy, this is not always an accurate sign. Most times, your budgie looks puffy because:
- They’re feeling cold and are fluffing up to trap air and conserve warmth
- They’re sick
- They’re upset
- They’re sleepy and are preparing to go to bed
- They want a bath
- They want to straighten out their feathers
- They’re trying to show off
- They’re excited or comfortable
So if you notice your budgie is constantly puffy, always ensure that it isn’t caused by something serious like illness.
How do I reduce my budgie’s fat?
Once you establish that your budgie is fat, there are a few things that you can do to help them lose weight. These include:
- If your budgie relies wholly on a seed diet, switch them over to a pellet diet and incorporate small amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits – only use seeds as treats. Don’t go cold turkey on your bird though – wean them off their old diet slowly
- Place your budgie’s water and food bowls on opposite sides of their cage – this will force them to walk around more frequently. To increase difficulty, you can even place one bowl at a higher level than the other
- Consult a vet for help on how to effectively and safely change your budgie’s diet. These professionals can even schedule weekly weight check-ins for your budgie
- Let your bird fly more frequently. If you have an outdoor flight cage, let them use it. Alternatively, you can bird-proof your house and let them fly around as you supervise them. Bird proofing usually involves closing doors/windows, turning off fans, closing blinds, and keeping other pets away
- If your budgie can’t fly, get them a big cage with a lot of toys and perches. Also, regularly take them outside and encourage them to physically play
- Increase your budgie’s bathing frequency – the movements your bird makes during bathing sessions can help them burn calories
- Change your budgie’s toys from time to time. This can increase stimulation and activity
- Don’t give your budgie any human food apart from fruits and vegetables. This is particularly a common habit during the holidays
Ultimately, all the abovementioned tips maximize diet change and increased exercise to keep your budgie within a healthy weight range. So the more of them you implement, the better!