Do Parrots Need Cuttlebone?

Parrots have a varied diet that includes pellets that cover a lot of nutrients as well as a variety of fresh foods, so you might think their daily nutrient intake is fulfilled. But despite having a varied diet, many parrots are deficient in certain nutrients. 

Calcium is one of the crucial minerals that many parrots are deficient in. So if you’re not supplementing their diet with a cuttlebone, they may not be able to get the amount of calcium they require. 

Cuttlebone is a great natural calcium supplement for parrots. It is the internal shell of a cuttlefish, a small squid-like cephalopod. Cuttlebone is calcareous meaning it is mainly composed of calcium carbonate. It is a more convenient way to give calcium to parrots than eggshells which need to be boiled and disinfected first.  

Why Do Parrots Need Cuttlebone? 

Cuttlebone is a calcium supplement for parrots. Parrots and other birds have high calcium requirements, which may not be fulfilled by diet alone. This is why a natural calcium supplement like cuttlebone is beneficial for parrots. 

However, cuttlebone has a few more benefits beyond calcium supplementation. Cuttlebone is a hard, oblong object with a rough texture, making it perfect for parrots to file their beaks. It also helps them stay active and mentally stimulated while in the cage. 

Calcium Supplement

Cuttlebone is made up of over 90 percent calcium carbonate, making it a rich source of calcium. It serves as a great dietary supplement for parrots. Parrots do get some amount of calcium from their regular diet, but still, sometimes, they are deficient in this mineral. Giving cuttlebone to your parrot as a supplement helps fulfill their daily calcium intake. 

Other Minerals 

Cuttlebone is given to birds mainly as a calcium supplement but it has other nutrients as well which are helpful in supporting their health. CuttleboneCuttlebone is mainly made up of calcium carbonate but also includes other minerals like zinc, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Keeps The Beak Trimmed

Parrots keep their beaks trimmed through daily activities like chewing and playing around with different objects. They make use of hard and rough surfaces to rub their beaks on and keep them in shape. While chewing on cuttlebone, parrots not only get calcium but are also able to file their beaks. 

Keeps Them Mentally Stimulated 

Cuttlebone is not only a calcium supplement but also makes for an entertaining toy for parrots. Even when inside their cages, parrots are quite active and do not like to sit idle. They seek ways to entertain themselves with the items in their surroundings. 


Cuttlebone is especially beneficial for breeding female parrots because of its high calcium content. Female parrots have increased requirements for dietary calcium when they are laying eggs. 

Calcium is needed to produce strong eggshells, which reduces the chances of complications during egglaying. If the parrot is deficient in calcium, it may not be able to form the egg properly, which leads to problems like egg-binding. 

How To Give Cuttlebone To Your Parrot?

Cuttlebone comes with a metal apparatus that can be attached to the inside of the cage so that it hangs there. The soft side which is the inner side of the cuttlebone should face the parrot when you hang it. The back of a cuttlebone is a thin bone and it’s harder while the front is softer and easier to chew for parrots. It can also be scraped and collected as powder if you wish to top your parrot’s meals with cuttlebone powder or for some reason your bird doesn’t want to chew the cuttlebone solid – that happens with some birds. 

Are There Any Side Effects Of Giving Cuttlebone To Parrots?

Calcium supplements are mostly safe for parrots and do not cause side effects as long as it is given in the correct amounts. Providing excessive doses, however, can lead to an imbalance of other nutrients because the body may not absorb them properly. According to the MSD Manual giving parrots too much calcium usually does not cause any health problems but excessive supplementation of vitamin D3 can lead to calcium building up in the kidneys.

Where To Buy Cuttlebone?

Most bird stores and some general pet stores keep cuttlebone for sale. Cuttlebone is available at Petco and you can also order online from different sources. It is fairly inexpensive so you can either buy it in bulk or you could also just buy a couple if you don’t have a whole flock of birds. 

Other Sources Of Calcium For Parrots

You always want to keep mixing things up when it comes to the fresh foods you offer your parrot. Although there is nothing wrong with giving your parrot one type of supplement, you can also look at the other forms calcium is available in. Here are some other sources of calcium that are good for parrots:

Crushed Eggshells 

Crushed eggshells are another great source of calcium for parrots, given they are properly prepared for them. Eggshells cannot be bought from a store so it might be a chore for you to get them yourself from eggs.

If you want to include eggshells in your parrot’s diet, you need to make sure they are cleaned properly and also have to cook them to avoid the risk of salmonella. You can do that by boiling the eggs, which destroys the bacteria. Once the shells are dry, crush them into small pieces or a fine powder using a regular mixer grinder, and then you can sprinkle the crushed eggshells over your parrot’s food or mix them into their treats.

Cuttlebone powder

If your parrot is not fond of the cuttlebone, which can be the case with some parrots, you can also use cuttlebone powder. Cuttlebone powder is available at stores and online so you can easily get it. The powder can be mixed into your parrot’s veggie mix or even sprinkled on the pellets. 

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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