The Lorikeet Diet


Rainbow Lorikeet eating Eucalyptus flowers.

People who work with lorikeets tend to regularly complain about their bird’s poo. It’s a runny, sticky, noxious substance, that I half-jokingly argue has the corrosive power to melt concrete. If that’s not bad enough – lorikeets happily shoot it on a 45-degree angle. None of this business of a nice clean drop straight through a grille at the base of a cage! Lorikeets are happiest if they can “paint” nearby walls.

That’s an important characteristic that people need to understand when working with lorikeets because it is a characteristic that bird food manufacturers often exploit.

I receive a lot of messages for help with ‘aggressive’ lorikeets and before I even think about training techniques, the first question I always ask is what are you feeding it? 

Lori and Dori enjoying some Broccoflower

A common answer is some sort of seed, a pellet (even a special lorikeet pellet) or some sort of dry lorikeet mix. I’ll ask if they’ve tried a wet lorikeet mix, fruit or vegetables? Then I often get told about the mess their bird has made when they have tried that in the past. Many people have tried to convince me that they have found a amazing diet “especially for lorikeets” that is dry and designed to eliminate the dreaded poo problem. Well, that’s exactly what the bird food companies wanted them to think.

Lori my Rainbow Lorikeet plucking privet berries off foliage.

When it comes to lorikeets, an owner needs to think about what motivates a bird food company to market such a diet as a “solution”? I’m pretty sure it isn’t because they think that constipation is a healthier alternative to normal digestive function. If you find yourself needing to change how a bird’s digestive system works in order to live with that bird – then perhaps you chose the wrong species of bird as a pet?


A normal healthy Rainbow Lorikeet's poo. 

That sounds like common sense but I can’t emphasize enough, just how well some of these products are marketed. Birds will survive on these diets without any obvious signs of ill effect and so owners swear that they’re fine. I know from working with my 60-year-old galah, that early dietary issues may not show up until the end of a bird’s lifespan. I have yet to see a 20-year-old study on any of these ‘poo solution’ diets. Until I do, I won’t be convinced that changing the way a bird’s digestive system works is a good idea.

A healthy Musk Lorikeet's poo (The colour difference between this and the Rainbow's poo is due to Otto eating berries on this particular day).

Lorikeets naturally eat a lot of fruit; their natural diet has a lot of water in it. If given a dry mix or a pellet, they’ll drink more to compensate and you’ll either have a constipated bird, or one who poos a lot of clear liquid. It just isn’t healthy.


Lori and Dori enjoying some sprouts, fruit and vegetables.

My guys eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. They get fresh foliage and native flowers very regularly and a wet mix daily. I mix up the wet mix with pureed fruit. The lazy person in me has discovered that organic pureed baby food comes in friendly little ready-to-go jars, so I usually mix those in. A word of warning on some wet-mixes though – many are high in sugars and don’t have enough vitamins in them. Brands vary in different countries, so check with your avian vet to see what diet they’d recommend. Here in Australia, the avian vets that I know tend to mainly recommend two brands, Passwells and Wombaroo.


2 heaped teaspoons of Passwells lorikeet mix, combined with half a jar of apple and mango Heinz baby food.

Personally, I don’t entirely dismiss the dry lorikeet pellets that are available. Some of those pellets make excellent training treats for lorikeets. In small quantities, along with a decent diet – they can be very useful. They just shouldn’t be used to alter a bird’s digestive pattern. 


Otto, my musk lorikeet enjoying some flowering Eucalyptus

So please don’t just assume a bird food company’s marketing has your bird’s best interest at heart. Instead, please check and see what your avian vet recommends. Getting the diet right is definitely an important start for any training that you want to do. A bird needs to be healthy and on a good diet if training is going to be effective. From experience – lorikeets are a lot friendlier when they’re not constipated!

Mel Vincent works as an animal rehabilitator out of Australia.

7 comments

spritz

we had a lost lorikeet just come into our lives randomly. the first few days, they were completely happy playing with us and their toys, eating and pooping all over the house. a few days later and the bird’s demeanour has completley changed…no longer that interested in fruits and the nectar mix but crazy about seeds….not active at all, sleeps all day, does not play with their toys, no baths, some poops now and then but nothing like before. the lorikeet would play with me bobbing, dancing, huffing and biting me and now just runs away, no emotion at all. already took the bird to the vet twice, but insist nothing is wrong with the respiratory and digestive system or the heart. so confused. forgot to mention, bird has been vomiting every day a few times but only in the afternoons or evenings. it is so weird, just like a completely different bird.

spritz
André

We got a 45 day old rainbow lorikeet. I think she’s struggling to poop today. My wife keeps giving her Nutribird A19 mix and I keep insisting on her getting a bit more fruit. She’s been licking on watermelon, but I also let her slurp up some electrolyte drops. And BOOM, just had a big healthy poop.

André
Angie

Hi I’m to hand feeding baby rainbow lorikeets. I’ve handfed Cockatiels before though. One thing I’ve noticed which I’m concerned about is that my 3 week old baby does not poop that often and his poop stinks. Since with cockatiels stinky poop was indicative of illness I’m quite worried…. thank you in advance.

Angie
Jasna Nicolson

I just offer a teaspoon with some of the wet mix in it to train my Lorrie. Also some tiny peices of dried fruit. I make a bird ‘salad’ using supermarket kale or greens bag mix and hiding chopped fruit peices in it, makes for the best foraging toy and my bird likes nibbling the greens.

Jasna Nicolson
Peter

Tamara, my lorikeet at blue ice cream and had blue poo for a short time. I think it is just the watermelon.

Peter
Nancy McShane

I feed my Rainbow Lories an ear of corn every morning. They eat a dry food mixed with water, which they really love, Brown’s Lori Food! They also get other fresh veggies, mangos, apples, mullberry branches, and other fresh foods. One of their favorite things is dried fruit, which I cut up into small pieces. They also eat some colorful pellets from Pretty Bird Species Specific, and GoldenFeast Nectar Gold powder. They are quite hormonal right now, and breed and really fight often! Then kiss and make up…Lol! I put some Aspen shavings in their nest box, but the female, Sidney, throws everything out of the box, and it is quite empty. Any ideas for nesting material she might accept??? Thanks, Nance

Nancy McShane
Stacey

My lorikeet is sneezing heaps but she still is playing and acting like normal, does the sneezing mean much to her health?

Stacey

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published