Parrots are social eaters in nature. In the wild, you will find them foraging around in flocks. If you keep one as a pet, you can use mealtime as socializing time by letting them out of their cage. That will build trust in your pet and make them feel at ease in your home.
You can offer them small foods from your plate too. However, some human foods are unsafe for parrots and could lead to severe effects that could turn fatal. Here are foods that you should avoid giving your pet:
Avocado is a delicious fruit that is safe for humans but unsafe for almost all pets, including parrots. The leaves, skin, seeds, bark, and pit of avocado contain a fatty acid called persin that can be toxic. There is no certainty about how much avocado is bad for parrots, but it’s always better safe than sorry.
Large amounts of avocado can cause death within 12 hours. Small amounts can bring about weakness, difficulty breathing, and heart failure in parrots. So it’s best to avoid avocado and anything with avocado like guacamole.
Caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, and soft drinks are great energy boosters that can increase alertness and keep us active. However, caffeine can have a much stronger effect on parrots when ingested.
Caffeine can cause your pet to have hyperactivity, increased heart rate, arrhythmia, and heart attack. So to keep your pet safe, keep away anything caffeinated, including cakes and ice creams from them. Instead, offer them water or fruit juice if they seem thirsty.
Chocolate is not only delicious to look at but also delicious to eat. You may be tempted to share a little piece with your birdie, but don’t. Apart from caffeine, chocolate contains theobromine which is a stimulant that is produced by the cocoa plant.
Dark chocolate is even more toxic because it is made up of more cocoa, meaning it contains more theobromine. Although chocolate is safe for humans, your pet cannot metabolize theobromine as fast as you can. This can make it accumulate in their bodies and turn poisonous to them.
Even in small amounts, chocolate will give parrots effects similar to a drug overdose. They will begin vomiting, have diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, increased heart rate, and even death. Keep all chocolates out of reach from your feathery friend. You can alternatively give them sugary fruits like mango or papaya.
Salt is a necessity for us because, apart from being a source of sodium, it makes our food taste better. But it’s still harmful to us in high quantities and may bring about health problems. This applies to your pet parrot too.
These feathery pets have smaller bodies than humans, making even slight amounts of salt toxic. Salt interferes with the balance of electrolytes and fluid in parrots. This leads to dehydration, excessive thirst, and kidney dysfunction and can also be fatal.
Avoid feeding your pet processed foods and snacks like salty crisps, crackers, or pretzels. They contain too much salt that can cause harm within a short period. You can give them unsalted popcorn or pretzels instead.
5. Fruit Pits and Seeds
Most fruits are nutritious and safe for your pet parrot in small amounts. But many fruits contain seeds and pits that are harmful to them. They contain cyanide which is a toxic compound that can cause death.
Always remove the seeds and pits of fruits like apples, pears, apricots, peaches, and plums before offering them to your pet. The fruit flesh is generally safe for the birds. The seeds from fruits like tomatoes, pumpkins, melons, berries, pomegranates, and grapes are safe for them, and you do not have to worry about them.
Apart from poisonous fruit seeds, you should also make sure that you wash the fruits thoroughly before feeding. The peels could contain traces of pesticides that may be toxic to your pet.
Onions and garlic have many human health benefits, which may tempt you to give some to your pet. However, in every form, onions and garlic are toxic to parrots. Anything from the onion family, including shallots, chives, and leeks, should never be fed to pets.
Onions have sulfur compounds that can damage the lining of your pet’s mouth or esophagus, leading to ulcers, and they can also cause anemia by rupturing red blood cells in their bodies. Allicin in garlic can also bring about weakness and anemia.
Apart from hemolytic anemia, these spices can also bring about vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory problems, and even death. So it’s always best to avoid them, whether raw, cooked, powdered, or in foods. If you want to give them something spicy, opt for chili peppers, a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute in many diet foods and oral care products. Some xylitol products are sugarless gum, soft drinks, mouth wash, mints, chewable vitamins, toothpaste, peanut butter, etc.
Pet owners should be extra careful when buying products with labels like ‘sugar-free’ or ‘no sugar added. These may contain xylitol in place of sugar. Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, liver damage, and even death in pets like dogs.
Parrots have smaller body weights and faster metabolism than most animals. This means that if ingested, even in small quantities, their sensitivity will be much higher, and xylitol can have more adverse effects on them.
You may think that a few sips of beer are okay for your chatty bird to have as you socialize with them and have a good time. But the bad news is that any form of alcohol is unsafe for them. You should keep beer, wine, and alcoholic drinks away if your bird is out and about.
Alcohol depresses and dulls the organ system of birds, including parrots. This can bring about more complications that can be fatal. Alcohol in households like sprays and hand sanitizers is also dangerous when inhaled by your pet. Avoid alcohol in any form around your pet to keep them safe.
9. Raw Beans
Beans are healthy, nutritious foods for parrots. Birds can eat beans like kidney, black-eyed, pinto, lima, and garbanzo. They are a good source of fiber, proteins, and carbohydrates.
However, you should thoroughly cook all beans you feed them. Raw, dried, or undercooked beans contain a poison called hemagglutinin which is found in plants like beans and legumes.
This chemical makes uncooked beans toxic and fatal to your pets. Do not leave any raw beans in reach for your parrot.
10. Some Vegetable Leaves
Although most leafy greens like kales, lettuce, spinach, and fennel are great for your parrot, some vegetable leaves are poisonous. Not only the leaves but the stems and vines of vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes should never be fed to your pet.
They can bring about vomiting and diarrhea. Feed your parrot only the actual fruits that are safe for them. Remember that even frozen, canned, and dehydrated vegetables have even more concentrated nutrients than fresh ones.
11. Milk and Dairy Products
Parrots are lactose-intolerant, so they cannot digest any lactose-containing foods properly. They do not have the chemicals needed to digest foods like milk, cheese, or yogurt.
Though not directly toxic, if ingested by parrots, dairy is not suitable for them. In high amounts, dairy products can bring about diarrhea. So avoid feeding them milk and dairy altogether. Water and the occasional juice are excellent for them and good for their health.
Mushrooms are a fungus species that can be toxic for parrots. Though some types of mushrooms are okay for these birds, it may not be easy to tell them apart. Raw mushrooms bring about digestive problems. The stems and caps of certain mushrooms can even cause liver failure.
If your parrot ingested any of the above foods, or you notice them showing one or more of these signs, they could have been poisoned. Depending on the toxin, these are the common poisoning signs to look out for:
- Increased urination
- Staggering or lack of coordination
- Falling from perch
If your pet has these signs, consult a veterinarian immediately.
Parrots are elegant creatures who love variety, so you should also make their food colorful. They feed on fruits, nuts, flowers, and even corn in the wild. Go ahead and feed them those fresh veggies, fruits, and pellets to make their diet as natural as possible.
Seeds and pellets should make up less than a quarter of your pet’s daily diet. The best pellets for parrots are those without sugar or dyes because they may bring about problems over the long term and even shorten your pet’s lifespan.
Various seeds are great for parrots, like buckwheat, millet, safflower, oats, and canary. Give sunflower seeds in moderation as they have a fat content that can be problematic to your pet.
Nuts have considerable fat content, and you should offer them in small amounts. They are best served as treats for your pets. You can offer them nuts like pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, and almonds.
Prepare for them cooked whole grains like rice, oats, quinoa, amaranth, barley, wheat, and teff.
You should give fruits in moderation, and you should wash them thoroughly. Offer them fruits like peaches, mangoes, grapes, and apples.
Vegetables are highly nutritious and should also be part of your parrot’s diet. Safe veggies include broccoli, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, corn on the cob, asparagus, hot peppers, beets, lettuce, and kale.
Cooked legumes like beans, lentils, tofu, peas, and chickpeas are also great supplements. Here is a detailed article on the best food for parrots.
Can Parrots Eat Chili Peppers?
Yes, parrots can eat chili peppers. Chili peppers contain capsaicin which makes them hot and burning. Although we humans react to capsaicin, parrots do not respond to it and cannot feel the hotness in pepper.
Chili is a great healthy addition to your pet’s diet. It is a source of vitamins, antioxidants, and carotenoids. These nutrients boost the parrot’s immune system, protecting them from diseases.
Chili peppers can also stimulate your parrot’s appetite and boost digestion. You can add chili peppers to your pet’s diet to spice it up and increase their appetite.
Can Parrots Eat Meat?
Yes, parrots can eat meat as a meal supplement, not a diet staple. Even in the wild, parrots mainly eat a plant-based diet. However, being omnivores, they do eat insects sometimes.
Parrots do need proteins in their diet. Lack of enough protein can cause muscle loss and be harmful to organs. Meat is an excellent source of protein, but you should feed it to them in moderation. This applies especially to parrots, whose diets have more seeds and pellets.
Seeds and pellets provide parrots with proteins. You should give less meat to parrots on this diet. However, if your parrot eats mainly fruits and vegetables, you can add meat to their diet, but also in moderation. Feeding too much meat can cause obesity which brings about health problems.
Why Is My Parrot Not Eating?
Parrots love food. So if they stop eating, then something is wrong. It could be stress, an illness, or you are feeding them new food they don’t like.
When you notice that your pet is not eating what you are giving them, don’t throw in your favorite chocolates or crackers to get them to eat. That won’t be good for them even if they do eat it.
Instead, find out the cause to figure out what to do. If you are unsure of the problem and your pet is still not eating, seek a vet’s help.
Parrots love eating with their humans, and they love our food too. Sharing your food with your pet to bond with them is perfectly okay. However, always ensure that what you offer them is safe for them. Avoid giving them salty foods, alcoholic drinks, caffeine, avocado, and chocolates.