Can Parrots Eat Ham? | What you need to know

If you have a parrot, you’ll know that these birds love to have a bite of our meals. It’s not always difficult to figure out whether you can share your snacks with your feathered pet or not. They mostly tend to eat fresh, healthy foods such as nuts, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and pellets. But can parrots eat ham? The answer is yes – but sparingly.

Can Parrots Eat Ham? - Parrot Essentials

Parrots can eat ham. However, it should not be part of their regular diet, and you need to be specific about the type of ham you feed. It would be best to only offer unsalted ham, as the salted version can be harmful to your parrot’s health.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about feeding ham to your parrot, as well as other types of meat. Keep reading to learn more!

Can parrots eat ham? What is ham?

Ham is pork meat that comes from leg or thigh cuts. It is processed and generally prepared by salting, wet curing, and smoking, depending on the type of ham. It is a popular ingredient in several dishes, such as ham and eggs, ham and beans, and ham and cheese sandwiches. 

Most pet owners end up considering whether they can feed ham to their parrots, as it is ready to eat and a good source of protein. Plus, your bird may be begging for a slice!

Ham has a wide variety of beneficial nutrients. It has high levels of protein, but it’s relatively low in fats, carbs, and fibre. Compared to other types of meats, such as poultry and fish, ham has more iron, B vitamins, and thiamine. In addition, it has all nine amino acids, making it a complete protein. 

Since ham is, unfortunately, also a highly salted and processed food, feeding it to your parrot regularly can lead to health problems. If you’d like to offer some ham, you must ensure that it is completely safe for your bird’s health. You should also avoid giving a parrot highly processed and restaurant-style prepared ham. 

The Nutritional Values Of Ham For Parrots

The Nutritional Values Of Ham For Parrots

Ham is a good source of animal protein for parrots and other birds. Since many parrots do eat small amounts of insects and other protein sources in the wild, you could consider feeding a piece here and there.

Here are some of the nutritional values of ham:

High In Protein 

As mentioned, ham is an excellent source of animal protein, which assists in the general growth of the body. Protein is also essential for the repair of bodily tissues. 

Selenium 

Ham contains selenium, which helps to protect the body’s cells from damage. 

Iron 

Iron helps in the formation of red blood cells, which transport oxygen to the body’s tissues.

Zinc 

Ham has zinc, which is important for cell growth, the immune system, and wound healing. 

Copper 

Ham has plenty of copper, which is vital for the development of blood vessels and bones. 

Vitamins B12 

Ham is a great source of vitamin B12. This vitamin is important for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.  

Can Ham Be Harmful To Parrots? 

Parrot keepers may be tempted to treat their birds to a few slices of ham from time to time. If you’re having a sandwich, why not share some of the fillings with your bird? However, ham can be harmful to parrots, especially if it is consumed in large quantities. 

Ham, unfortunately, contains large amounts of salt, which can increase the risk of heart disease as well as cause high blood pressure. Besides, it may have traces of nitrates, which can increase the risk of cancer. It is also high in cholesterol and saturated fats, which can clog arteries and lead to stroke and heart disease. 

Therefore, you should not give large amounts of ham to your parrots. Although no bird will drop dead off its perch after eating some ham, it’s best used only as a (training) treat if your bird is interested in it.

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Side Effects Of Ham For Parrots 

There are several side effects that come with feeding ham to a parrot. Excess servings of ham can lead to various health issues. Common symptoms of having overindulged your parrot include:

  • Constipation 
  • Bloating 
  • Increased risk of some types of cancers 
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Stomach issues 
  • Risk of type 2 diabetes 

Additionally, not all parrots will actually be interested in ham! Yours may prefer its normal diet or plant-based treats.

The Best Types Of Meat To Give Your Parrot 

So as we’ve found out, the answer to “can parrots eat ham” isn’t black and white. The same goes for other meats. If you want to include some meat in your parrot’s diet, it’s important to find a healthy option. Ham isn’t the best parrot food! Here are some better choices for giving your bird some extra animal protein. 

Laying and breeding hens, for example, may need a little extra in their diet to keep them healthy, as producing eggs and caring for chicks takes up a lot of their stored nutrients and energy.

The Best Types Of Meat To Give Your Parrot

Poultry 

Poultry meat is one of the best options if you think your parrot needs a little extra protein in its diet. It is a lean protein. This means that your parrot will get the benefit of extra protein in their diet without a lot of additional fat.

You can consider giving them some plain boiled chicken or turkey breast with no salt or other additives.

Fish

Fish is a relatively healthy and safe food for parrots. It contains healthy fats which aren’t always obtained easily in a vegetable and fruit-based diet.

If you want to offer your parrots some seafood, you can go for low-mercury fish, such as trout, sardines, and mackerel. Do make sure the fish is always unsalted and not canned in oil. Some plain baked white fish should work if you’re looking for an option that’s lower in fat.

Egg 

Although technically not meat, eggs still make the list, as they’re an easy choice that most of us will have on hand. Eggs are easy to prepare, not expensive, and feature a pretty good nutrient profile. In addition, many parrots just enjoy eating eggs!

As discussed in the article on eggs for parrots, they are best prepared hard-boiled or scrambled with no added fats or salt.

Types Of Meat That You Should Not Give Your Parrot

Types Of Meat That You Should Not Give Your Parrot

Some types of meat may not be healthy for your parrot to consume, even in smaller quantities. Here are some types of meat you should give a pass.

Cold Cuts 

You should not give cold cuts to your parrots, as these are usually loaded with preservatives and fillers. Cold cuts also have a lot of sodium.

You can consider low-sodium chicken or turkey breast if you want to give your birds some sandwich meat, but it’s still not the best option. Avoid offering the unhealthy high-fat options, such as bologna or salami.

Cured Meat 

Anything on your breakfast plate should not be given to your parrots. Cured meat usually has high amounts of sodium, harmful nitrates, and fat. Examples of cured meat include ham steaks, sausage, and bacon. 

Fatty Red Meat 

Red meat is more or less okay to feed your bird in small quantities from time to time. However, you may want to steer away from options like steak because of how rich in fats it is.

While skirt steaks and marbled ribeyes may look delicious, they pack a high-fat punch that is not good for your parrot. 

Anything Fried 

Although fried food is delicious, it is certainly not a natural part of the diet of a bird, including parrots.

Fried foods have a lot of fat, which is not recommended for your parrot to consume. You shouldn’t allow your parrot to peck at or eat anything that is fried.  

The Risks Of Too Much Meat In A Parrot’s Diet 

If you offer your parrots some meat, most will eat it every time. This does not mean that just because your bird enjoys eating a particular food, it is good for it. They don’t know what’s healthy for them!

Here are some of the potential risks of giving your parrots too much meat. 

The Risks Of Too Much Meat In A Parrot's Diet

High Calories 

Meat is generally high in calories. If you give your parrot a lot of meat, it will be at risk of becoming overweight.

Although a chubby parrot may appear adorable, excess weight is harmful to your bird’s health. In fact, obesity and fatty liver disease are among the prime silent killers in pet parrots!

High Cholesterol and Saturated Fats 

Saturated fats and cholesterol are not things the natural diet of a parrot includes in large amounts. Too much of these means your bird will be at risk of developing health problems, such as heart disease and high cholesterol.  

Too Much Protein 

While protein is a vital nutrient in the diet of your parrot, too much of it can be a problem. Most parrots simply don’t need that much protein, and if they consume too much of it, they can develop kidney problems. 

Meat Contains Antibiotics 

Factory-farmed meat usually has a lot of antibiotics. These antibiotics can affect your health as well as that of your bird. Therefore, you should buy good-quality antibiotic-free meat if you do want your parrot to enjoy some.

Conclusion: Can parrots eat ham?

So, can parrots eat ham? As with many human foods that we may want to offer to our birds, the answer is not a plain “yes” or “no”. Parrots can eat ham. However, you shouldn’t feed more than a small amount as a treat from time to time to prevent your feathered pet from developing health issues.

Ham is rich in salt, cholesterol, and fat, which can harm your parrot if consumed in high amounts. However, it does make for a delicious treat. 

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. We have had our African Grey since 1996 (yes!). He is still extremely healthy, happy and age resistant! He has always had breakfast and dinner with us every day, he eats what we eat and knows what he doesn’t like! When we first had him we swatted up on what is harmful, ie poisonous to parrots, two being chocolate and Avocado. There are things that he adores like chips, roast potatoes, crisps, bacon fat and lots of other disgraceful things, but he gets them all in moderation. He loves his breakfast marmalade on toast, also Ardennes pate on toast! He loves grapes, celery leaves, clementines, apples and cherries. Our Avian vet tells us we must be doing something right!

    1. Hi Sue.Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience.
      This is advice from me based on my personal experience over the years.
      No parrot makes it past 35 if they are on a bad diet. Even in moderation, certain things are a no-no.
      I don’t want to sound like I am lecturing or judging because I am not.
      However, from what I have seen for the last 30 years, many illnesses are hard to diagnose until it is too late.
      Parrots hardly show any sign of ageing, which doesn’t help either.
      I rescued an African Grey that looked in perfect condition. The blood test was OK, but I knew the bird had been on a poor diet for 20 years.
      She lived another 3 years before passing away.
      We did an autopsy to find the cause. Clogged arteries lead to heart failure.
      She was 27 years old.
      Anguel – Parrot Essentials

  2. Exactly Anguel! Before 20 years old it is very difficult to see any health problem in a parrot pet, but after this age… especially after 30 years old, all things that we as tutors make wrong will appear, unfortunately.
    The best is to offer the best for our loved parrots since they are born. It is important to remember that some species of parrots can live for more than 80 years old!

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