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Grit - Should you Offer it to your Budgies?

CuteLittleBirdies Article: Grit - Should you offer it to your Budgies?

Date Written: March 6, 2006
Author: Budgiekin

If you were to search on the internet, or in books about budgies for information concerning grit, don't be surprised if you find conflicting advice about whether or not you should be offering it to your precious pet budgie. Now is the time to settle the conflict once and for all!

Did you know that there are actually two types of grit? One form is soluble and the other is insoluble. Cuttle bone is an example of soluble grit. It actually gets dissolved by the acids in your budgie's digestive tract and can be an excellent source of calcium and other minerals. Since this type of grit dissolves, there is very little danger that it will accumulate in your budgie's digestive tract and cause problems such as obstruction of your bird's crop.

Soluble grit dissolves in your budgie's digestive acids (e.g. cuttle bone).

Insoluble grit is a sand-like substance that aids in the digestion of in tact seeds. This type of grit is necessary for birds such as pigeons, doves and ostriches as they consume whole seeds.

Comparatively, insoluble grit generally takes the form of silica (sand) and is thought to aid in the digestion of food. However, this is true only for birds that consume intact seeds, such as pigeons, doves and ostriches for example. In those cases, the grit aids in removing the fibrous outer shell around many types of seeds consumed by those types of birds. Budgies do not fall into this category since they hull their seeds before consuming them.

You may be wondering about the diet of wild budgies in the Australian outback and think to yourself that these budgies eat some form of grit, so therefore your pet budgie should be doing the same. What you should realize is that the diet of those wild budgies is much different than that of your pet budgie. Wild budgies must resort to whatever food is available, and not all of this food is easily digestible since many of the seeds have tough outer shells. Grit helps them break down those outer shells. Since pet budgies are generally fed seeds that can be easily hulled by their beaks, the seed portion that is eaten is easily digestible. As a result, no grit is required.

In fact, when budgies are offered grit, there is always the possibility that they will eat too much of it if it is made available to them. This is particularly true if their diet is lacking in nutritional balance. Nutrient-deficient budgies will often consume rather large quantities of grit, which can lead to quite serious, and even fatal conditions.

So why shouldn't you give your budgie grit? The answer is quite straightforward. Not only do budgies simply not need it to break down the foods they eat, grit can actually irritate your budgie's digestive system. As well, more serious problems can develop from consuming it, such as the development of a blockage in the digestive tract (in the crop, ventriculus or proventriculus). At the very least, a blockage would make your budgie very sick, but even worse is the fact that your budgie could die if the blockage is severe enough.

The key to proper food digestion for your budgie is to provide your budgie with an easily-digestible and nutritionally-balanced diet that includes not only seeds (which your budgie hulls) and pellets, but also fresh vegetables and fruit. Grit is a completely unnecessary addition to your budgie's diet.


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