budgie vomiting

The difference between budgie regurgitation and vomiting

Seeing seeds come back up out of your budgies beak can be unsettling for a new parakeet owner. Rest assured, most of the time when you see a budgie spitting seeds out of its beak it’s something called regurgitation and there’s nothing to worried about. There are, however, times when a budgie vomits due to illness and may need medical attention. It’s important to be able to tell the difference between normal, healthy regurgitation and vomiting.

When your budgie eats he hulls his seeds to remove outer layer, which is why he doesn’t need grit. The next place the seed goes is into his crop, check out this page for an image of the digestive system and detailed description of how the crop and digestion functions. Typically after being stored in the crop the food is released slowly into the rest of their digestive tract. It’s intelligent design to keep yourself going with a consistent energy source if you’re not always sure where your next meal is going to come from. Although of course that’s not an issue with our spoiled pet parakeets! Regurgitation and vomiting are two reasons the seed would come back out the mouth instead of traveling through the tract, so let’s break it down and provide some explanations of each.

Regurgitation is a targeted and purposeful bringing up of seeds from the crop and out the mouth. At the start of life regurgitation is how parent budgies feed their babies and it continues to have a positive connotation for adults. A budgie will regurgitate to another budgie who is a bonded mate or good friend who may even be the same sex. They can also regurgitate to humans that they are very fond of, in some cases a thumbnail or any part of a person to which they are particularly attached. Budgies will additionally regurgitate to a specific toy they like a lot, or very commonly to a mirror.

Regurgitation can be a part of a romantic pair’s relationship but it’s not always an expression of sexual interest from an adult budgie.  Toby and Kelly have never had a romantic relationship but when they are getting along particularly well or one of them is having a tough molt they will regurgitate to each other. It’s actually pretty sweet, if you don’t watch too closely!

When a budgie regurgitates he will jerk his head fairly rapidly up and down until seeds come out in a lump and are deposited either in another budgie’s mouth or somewhere else intentionally. He will be either calm or pleasantly excited and in a happy mood and may sing or make other happy vocalizations before and after regurgitating.

Neither Toby nor Kelly has ever regurgitated on Patrick or me. Toby will get very into tapping her beak on my fingernails and jerks her head like she’s thinking about it, but so far hasn’t completed the action. I’m sort of hoping it stays that way, even though I would take it as quite a compliment.

Vomiting is a totally separate issue and always cause for concern and careful monitoring. A budgie who is vomiting may have a crop impaction (something stuck in the crop), or any number of stomach issues. Some of these issues may pass on their own, some you can treat at home with the Organic Apple Cider Vinegar that you keep in your first aid kit, but others will require the attention of an avian vet. I’m not a vet and I’m not capable of providing medical recommendations that would replace medical attention.

If you suspect your budgie is vomiting monitor them very carefully for other signs of illness. You want to make sure they are able to eat and drink after vomiting , their poop looks good, and they are not listless and puffy. If your budgie has an episode of vomiting and then acts perfectly fine afterwards it may be okay to treat with some preventative Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and take a wait and see approach to seeing the vet.

On the other hand if you suspect they have vomited and they are exhibiting other signs of illness then it’s probably best to place them in a small hospital cage with a Heating Pad for extra warmth. Then call up a vet and ask them what they think.

When a budgie vomits it’s pretty easy to tell something is wrong. In the time that I’ve had Toby I’ve seen her do it twice and both times my adrenaline started pumping and I knew immediately she was in distress.

A vomiting budgie shakes his head from side to side while seeds spray out of his mouth in addition to clear liquid or white foam.  Seeds will come out of his mouth either singly or in small wet clusters. You may find these stuck to cage bars or on the walls next to the cage. If you’re home when your budgie is vomiting you may hear the seeds striking the cage bars.

In between bouts of vomiting your budgie may hop rapidly from perch to perch, almost as though they are trying to outrun the urge to vomit. They will not be consolable and probably won’t be interested or able to step up. Their faces will also become soiled and wet due to the liquid that comes out with the seed. It is truly an unsettling experience to see your budgie vomiting uncontrollably and know that in that moment there’s nothing you can really do to see them through it short of some soothing words and proper care.

It made me uncomfortable just writing about a budgie vomiting! I hope that you never see your budgies in medical distress due to stomach issues (or any issues!), but it’s vitally important to know the difference between healthy regurgitation and unhealthy vomiting.

17 thoughts on “The difference between budgie regurgitation and vomiting”

  1. how much apple cider vinegar do I give to my budgie vomiting problem or mirror problem many thanks maybe remove the mirror first he seems to love it

    1. If he’s only spitting up seed intentionally to the mirror then he is probably regurgitating to it in a friendly way, rather than having stomach trouble.

      So, likely no ACV needed, but if you do use it put just a drop into his drinking water.

      You may wish to remove the mirror if your budgie is overly fixated on it.

  2. Thank you this helped our family with our budgie question? We had a laugh and are happy he is just happy.

  3. Hello! I got a budgie about a month ago and he seems alright, just a little shy, but I figured that’s normal, until he gets used to us and all the noises in our house, but a week ago I noticed that he does this thing where he sort of jerks his head back and forth while opening his beak and moving his tongue. At first, I thought he might be vomiting or even choking and I panicked, but he was fine afterwards, he just keeps doing it and I’m worried that he might have something stuck in his throat or he might be sick.
    Sorry to bother, I just wanted advice from a more experienced person, since I am a begginer. (Also, sorry for my bad English.)

    1. I am so sorry for the delay in my response. Somehow I didn’t get a notification for your comment!

      How is your little friend now? It sounds to me like he was likely just moving things around in his crop, which is totally normal as long as it doesn’t persist for a very long time.

    1. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, is your budgie rubbing the swing with his vent area (his bottom) and then regurgitating seeds to it? If that’s the case then he may be displaying normal hormonal behavior.

      If your budgie is in distress and rubbing his face then vomiting and spraying seeds and liquid or foam he is ill and you should seek the advice of a veterinarian.

      I hope your little friend will be okay!

  4. Hello. I’ve noticed my budgie regurgitating but but she has been puffed all day with her eyes closed.
    Is this normal?? Please help.

  5. Hello. I’ve noticed my budgie regurgitating but she’s been puffed up all day with her eyes closed.
    Is this normal?? Plz help

    1. Hello, it sounds like your budgie may be sick. Please keep her nice and warm and try to find a veterinarian to take her to. Unfortunately I am not qualified to give you medical advice for your budgie. I hope she will be okay!

  6. My lutino parakeet is vomiting. She has been throwing up seeds and they got stuck onto the bars of her cage. She seemed tired afterwards and her beak also has been bruised for around a month? I’m not sure if it has to do with what she has.

    1. I’m so sorry your parakeets is ill. Bruising on the beak can be a symptom of fatty liver disease in parakeets. Vomiting that lasts more than a short while could also be a sign that something is going on medically as well.

      If at all possible I recommend taking your parakeet to a qualified veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

      Best of luck.

  7. My lutino parakeet has been throwing up. The seeds are on the bars and they seem to be stuck on there. She seemed puffy afterwards and she seemed tired. Her beak is also bruised but I’m not sure if it’s related to this problem.

    1. I’m so sorry your parakeets is ill. Bruising on the beak can be a symptom of fatty liver disease in parakeets. Vomiting that lasts more than a short while could also be a sign that something is going on medically as well.

      If at all possible I recommend taking your parakeet to a qualified veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

      Best of luck.

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