Figuring out exactly what macaws need in their diet can be tricky. While seeds contain lots of nutrients, they are lacking in a very important one — calcium.
This is where cuttlebone comes in! Giving macaws cuttlebone is a great way to ensure they get their daily dose of calcium. And it’s a load of fun for them to nibble on too!
Cuttlebone is the internal shell of a cuttlefish. It contains a large amount of calcium which is beneficial to birds, such as parrots. It not only supports the health of your birds bones. Cuttlebones also promoteS fertility, especially for egg-laying birds and conditions and strengthens their beaks.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the reasons behind the importance of cuttlebone, shall we?
What Is Cuttlebone?
Cuttlebone is the internal shell of the cuttlefish. This fish has 2 tentacles and 8 “arms”. It is found all over the world, hence why cuttlebone is pretty easy to get your hands on.
This part of the fish is made up of calcium carbonate and organic carbohydrate material. A whopping 85% of it is the former which makes a great source of calcium for macaws and similar birds.
Why Do Macaws Need Cuttlebone?
Here’s the question every macaw lover wants to be answered. Why do macaws need cuttlebone? Are there any real benefits? We’ll take a look at the four main reasons.
#1 It Boosts Their Calcium Level
In general, bird diets contain little to no calcium. Seeds aren’t known for their high concentrations of this nutrient after all! However, it is a good idea to counteract this by offering your macaws some cuttlebone (it’s 85% calcium carbonate!) to chew on. Over time, this will strengthen their bones and allow them to heal much quicker.
But why cuttlebone over another calcium source? Well, the main reason for this is that it is one of the only natural bird-friendly sources that contain such a high saturation of it. Not to mention that it is easy for their bodies to absorb speedily.
Calcium deficiency among birds (especially parrots) is incredibly common. But, calcium overdoses can be just as harmful (sometimes even more so). Before we continue, we’ll have a little look at both of these “illnesses” so you can ensure your macaw is as healthy as possible.
Calcium is very present in your bird’s body. It helps their hormones, bones, enzymes, nerves, and even their blood. But since their diets don’t tend to include much of this nutrient, they can easily become deficient.
However, they need a fair amount of vitamin D alongside it to promote absorption. Otherwise, handing them some cuttlebone won’t do too much since their body will flush it out of their system.
Some risks come from giving your bird too much calcium. The trick is to give your macaw cuttlebone and other calcium-rich diet supplements in moderation. As with humans, balance is key to a healthy life.
#2 It Keeps Their Beak Healthy
Thanks to the texture and shape of the cuttlebone, it will help keep your precious bird’s been lovely and polished — not to mention trimmed!
Hopefully, you already know that unmanaged beaks can cause your macaw to have problems eating which leads to malnutrition. Thus, giving them some cuttlebone can keep more than just his/her bones healthy!
#3 It Can Improve Fertility
Alongside calcium, cuttlebones have a decent quantity of zinc, iron, potassium, and magnesium. All of these are crucial for your bird’s physiological health.
Giving your feathered friend a bit of cuttlebone will likely improve the quality of their eggs. Of course, this is more important during their laying season. But, that doesn’t mean to say that it won’t matter year-round.
#4 It’s Fun
Apart from the physical health side of things, cuttlebones will give your macaw something to do. It’s enjoyable and acts as a solid form of exercise. Not only does it taste good, but its texture and tantalizing shape make it a sure-fire way to keep your bird’s entertainment levels high.
(8 Pack) Prevue Pet Bird Cuttlebones - Medium 5-Inch
- (8 Pack) Prevue Pet Bird Cuttlebones - Medium 5-Inch
- Bird cuttlebone help your bird get the extra nutrition he needs, while keeping his beak neat and tidy
- Cuttlebone helps to trim beaks and provides calcium, iron and other trace minerals
- Size medium measures 5-inches in length
Can my bird eat too much cuttlebone?
Yes, birds can eat too much cuttlebone. You’d have to try pretty hard to get them to eat too much though; shaving it into their food and having cuttlebone toys and snacks could lead to eating too much.
Does cuttlebone expire?
Cuttlebone doesn’t have an expiration date! If you find a great deal on cuttlebone you can stock up and it will last as long as it takes for your bird to chew through them.
Is a mineral block the same as a cuttlebone?
No, mineral blocks and cuttlebones are similar, but they are not the same thing. Cuttlebones are natural and are great sources of calcium. Mineral rocks are specifically made for birds and have high concentrations of minerals for birds.
Can humans eat cuttlebone?
It’s not recommended that humans eat cuttlebone. They are high in calcium, and we don’t need to eat them.
How Can You Give Cuttlebone to Macaws?
There are loads of different ways to give cuttlebone to your feathery friend. We prefer hanging it. However, you can choose to just place it on the bottom or lean it against the side of the cage. More often than not, birds will let you know if they don’t like something about their home!
There you have it! You can officially call yourself a macaw vs cuttlebone expert now.