If you’re a parrot owner, you’ll likely know that the majority of a parrot’s diet should consist of high-quality pelleted food, supplemented with fresh vegetables, fruit, seeds and other plant-based foods. However, they need variety in their meals. So what about animal-derived foods? Do parrots eat meat?
Let’s dive into parrot diet and find out more about these birds’ protein needs.
Do parrots eat meat?
Parrots are omnivorous animals, which means they eat plant and animal-based foods. It may surprise you, but some parrots will eat meat when they get the chance. Parrots can eat small amounts of different kinds of meats, like chicken, turkey and more.
Meat is not supposed to be part of a regular diet for a parrot. It’s fine as an occasional snack, and parrots will eat almost anything as they are omnivores (plant and meat-eating animals) but you should not feed it to them daily. In the wild, they will often eat the occasional insect. As a pet, you might feed yours meat as a treat in moderation.
Meats contain nutritious proteins (amino acids), vitamins (B6), minerals, zinc, riboflavin, selenium, pantothenic, and niacin acid. This being said, you should know that red meats like beef, pork, veal, and lamb are considered unhealthy and aren’t good for them. Feeding your Parrot too much meat can cause it to suffer conditions like heart disease or high cholesterol.
How Much Meat Should I Feed To My Parrot?
Chicken and turkey are best recommended for your parrot. But how much meat can and should you include in its diet? As mentioned, meats in moderation can be a healthy addition to a parrot’s diet because it is high in protein. Parrots do need protein protein, as their bodies use it to build and support their muscle and tissue development. Insufficient protein in a parrot’s diet can pose a problem to vital organs and lead to muscle loss.
In the wild, most birds don’t have to turn to hunting to find foods rich in protein, as many naturally feed on protein-rich seeds. In most cases, the extra protein from meat isn’t required, and your bird can get what it needs from nuts, seed and maybe some boiled egg. Still, you can offer small pieces of cooked lean meat once or twice a week to give your bird the opportunity to try something new.
Remember: as a parrot owner, it is crucial for you to always pay close attention to what your pet is eating. Take note of the composition of your bird’s food to ensure it’s getting a balanced mix of the required nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
When feeding your parrot meat, as in general, try to avoid overfeeding it. They aren’t able to tell when to stop eating and they tend to get obese if you give them too much. This can lead to heart complications and other sicknesses.
Parrots also have a fast metabolism, so you should feed them regularly, but in moderation.
What Types of Healthy Meat Should a Parrot Eat?
Now that you know the amount of meat to feed your parrot, let’s have a look at what types of healthy meat your bird can eat.
Here are some healthy ideas to try:
- Poultry: This meat is the best and healthiest for your parrot. Poultry is a form of healthy protein that has less fat. This means your parrot can eat it without ingesting too many calories for the day. Healthy protein options are boiled chicken, duck, and turkey.
- Eggs: Parrots love eating eggs, and as a bird owner, you might want to save a few bucks by feeding your pet eggs. Eggs are affordable, have a lot of nutritional benefits, and are very easy to cook or make. The best way to cook eggs for your parrot is to make it scrambles, preferably hard-boiled and plain.
- Fish: Fish is rich in healthy fats and is a good meal variety for your Parrot. Some healthy fish options are sardines, trout, tuna and mackerel.
Meats to avoid feeding your parrot include:
Some types of meat are very unhealthy for your parrot. They include meats that are high in fat, sodium, and other ingredients that can make your pet unwell.
Whether fed to parrots in large or small quantities, these meats are harmful and not advised.
- Cold cuts: Cold cuts contain unhealthy preservatives, so they should be avoided. They are also very high in sodium. Parrots should not be fed cold cuts or pink meats like ham or bologna. Turkey or chicken breast slices might be a little better, but most are still laden with salt.
- Fatty red meat: Red meats are generally unhealthy, even for humans. Your bird is not going to keel over if you share a small, unseasoned piece of steak with it, but don’t make this a habit.
- Cured and processed meat: Cured meat is high in sodium, fat, and harmful nitrates. When it comes to meat, anything that can be found on a breakfast plate is best avoided. Things like ham steaks, bacon and sausages are just not healthy.
- Fried meats: As the name suggests, fried meats contain a lot of fat, which is very unhealthy for your pet. Fried foods should not be part of a parrot’s diet.
Should I feed my parrot bones?
If you’re thinking of serving your parrot healthy meats like chicken, you may want to know if they can eat the bones as well. Many parrots like eating animal bones. They enjoy cracking bones by breaking them open with their beaks and eating the marrow.
This being said, we don’t recommend giving your parrot something like chicken bones to play with. They can splinter, which can in unlucky cases produce injuries to the bird’s beak. If it accidentally ingests small bone pieces, this can cause further issues. Try offering a nice sturdy foraging toy instead if you want to keep your feathered pet entertained searching for pieces of food!
Preparing Healthy Meat for Your Parrot
If you’d like to incorporate some meat in your parrot’s diet, it’s important to remember that it always has to be fully cooked. Raw or improperly cooked meat can contain harmful bacteria like salmonella. So, it’s best to cook the meat properly to eliminate bacteria or avoid foodborne illness.
It’s important to learn the best ways to meat for your pet to ensure you’re offering something healthy. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can’t feed your parrot fried meats, salted meats or any meat dipped or cooked in a sauce.
The best and healthy way to cook meat for your parrot is to cook it plain. You can cook the meat plainly by:
While cooking the meat, don’t add ingredients like salt, pepper, or fat. You want to keep the meat in its plain cooked form.
What Are the Risks of Too Much Meat in Your Parrot’s Diet?
We want to reiterate again that giving your parrot meat to eat should be done sparingly and occasionally. It is essential to understand that just because your pet likes meat, it doesn’t mean it is suitable for its diet. Constant meat for a parrot is a bad idea.
The risks of too much meat in your parrot’s diet include:
- High calorie intake: Meat is pretty high in calories, which is unhealthy for an animal as small as a parrot. An overweight parrot is at risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, general ill health and even premature death.
- It can contain too much protein: It is healthy for your parrot to consume proteins on a regular basis, but too much can pose a problem. If your bird consumes too much protein, this can cause kidney damage. As you know, too much of everything, even protein, is bad.
- It can be too fatty: Meat also contains healthy and unhealthy fats. Excess fat in your parrot’s meals can put your pet at risk for an enlarged liver, a condition commonly known as fatty liver disease. In medicine, an enlarged liver is referred to as Hepatic Lipidosis, and is caused by excess fat stored inside the liver, impeding its functioning.
- Can contain antibiotics: When buying meat for your parrot to eat, purchase high-quality and antibiotic-free cuts, which are healthier. Factory processed meat may contain preventative antibiotics, which is unhealthy for humans and also for animals, especially small and sensitive ones like your parrot.
Will Eating Meat Make My Parrot Aggressive?
Some people still believe that giving an animal meat to eat awakens its primal instinct and turns it aggressive. They think that providing an animal like a parrot meat to eat turns it aggressive and predatory once they’ve eaten some flesh. This is, of course, not true.
What Foods Are Harmful to My Parrot?
Some foods are harmful to your parrot’s health and should never be fed to it. Some foods, even in small quantities, can negatively affect your bird’s health. These include:
- Onions and garlic (especially dried)
- Improperly cooked beans
- Fizzy drinks
You can read more about dangerous foods for parrots in the list of 7 toxic parrot foods to avoid.
So, do parrots eat meat? Parrots depend on the knowledge and expertise of their owners to provide the best for them in terms of food, shelter, water and everything else they need. Wild parrots learn what’s good for them from their parents, while pet parrots, on the other hand learn and adapt to their owners.
Parrots can eat meat, but only in small amounts. You can offer small pieces of fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, and chicken bone as a treat. Including these in a parrot’s diet provides a range of nutrients for the bird.