Feeding Lories and Lorikeets
Our knowledge of bird nutrition is constantly evolving both from heightened awareness of the importance of nutrition and from increased research into birds’ different needs. As with all other animals, birds need a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Different species of birds often require different foods. Lories and lorikeets are also known as "brush tongued parrots" because of their unique tongues which are adapted for their highly specialized dietary needs. Lories and lorikeets eat a high-moisture-containing diet and have relatively short digestive tracts when compared with other parrots. This combination makes for a very quick transit time of food through the gastrointestinal tract which is why lories and lorikeets eat often and produce frequent and very loose droppings.
What should my lory or lorikeet eat?
Too often, owners assume they are feeding a proper diet to their birds when, in fact, they are not. Poor nutrition is a common cause of many health problems in birds. Lories and lorikeets have highly specialized dietary needs. Before you consider having one as a pet, you should be familiar with their nutritional requirements so that your bird can be healthy and thrive.
What do lories and lorikeets eat in the wild?
Lories and lorikeets eat nectar and pollens in the wild. They also consume soft foods like fruits, berries, blossoms, and buds. They are not really seed-eaters in the wild.
What should I feed my lory or lorikeet?
There are a number of excellent commercially available nectar and pollen substitutes available for feeding lories and lorikeets. Feeding these diets can be complicated, as their high-sugar content makes them susceptible to rapid spoilage once mixed with water. These products should be mixed fresh in small quantities with each feeding and offered at least twice daily. If lories and lorikeets eat spoiled food, they can be prone to developing gastrointestinal tract infections with yeast and bacteria. Lories and lorikeets can also be successfully maintained on several commercially available brands of pelleted diets. They tend to have firmer stools when eating a pelleted diet.
"Feeding nectar and pollen substitutes can be complicated, as their high-sugar content makes them susceptible to rapid spoilage once mixed with water."
Fruits and Vegetables
A large variety of diced fruits (see list below) should be cut up in pieces and offered every day along with nectar substitute or pellets. Fruits and vegetables should be offered in a separate dish from nectar and pellets and should not be left to sit out for more than a couple of hours due to the risk of spoilage. If your bird selects one type of fruit preferentially, reduce its volume or stop feeding it temporarily to promote consumption of other foods.
Small pieces of sliced, shredded, or finely diced vegetables may also be offered but should make up only a small portion of a lory or lorikeet's diet. Pale vegetables, with a high water composition (i.e., iceberg or head lettuce, celery), have very little nutritional value and should not be offered. Avocado is potentially toxic to birds and should never be offered. All fruits and vegetables must be washed thoroughly to remove chemicals before they are given, and if organic produce is available, it is preferable. Consult your veterinarian if you encounter any problems with diet or the health of your bird.
"Avocado is potentially toxic to birds and should never be offered."
Fresh clean water must be available at all times. If the quality of your tap water is poor, consider using bottled water. Food and water dishes should be cleaned every day with hot, soapy water, and rinsed thoroughly before use. Lories and lorikeets often use their water dishes to bathe in. Water dishes must be refilled often to keep them clean.
What about other foods?
As a rule, nearly any wholesome, nutritious food that you and your family eat, can also be offered to your bird but in very small quantities. Junk food, including chocolate, caffeinated products, alcoholic beverages, and foods high in salt or fat should not be offered.
Does my bird need extra vitamins, minerals or amino acids?
In general, birds eating 75-80% of their diet in the form of nectar, pollen, or pellets, do not need supplements. Specific vitamin or mineral supplements may be more important at various times during a bird's life (e.g., egg laying requires calcium supplementation). Your veterinarian can help you assess your bird's diet and its particular needs.
Does my bird need gravel or grit?
Controversy exists over the need for gravel. Previously, it was believed that grit was necessary for the mechanical breakdown of food in the gizzard to aid in digestion. This is true for birds that ingest seeds whole, shell and all. However, many birds remove the shell before ingesting the seed kernel. Birds that eat this way, do fine without grit in their diet. Some birds will, in fact, have digestive problems if grit is overeaten.
What pointers should I remember about feeding my lory or lorikeet?
- Always monitor the amount of food eaten every day by each bird especially if birds are housed together.
- Never leave nectar or pollen substitutes out for a long time due to risk of spoilage.
- Offer fresh water every day.
- Offer fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
- Clean all food and water dishes daily.
Some suggested food items include:
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