Parrots love sugary, sweet-tasting foods and will readily eat biscuits, often to excess. Unfortunately, regularly feeding parrots junk food leads to weight gain and poor underlying health.
Parrots shouldn’t eat biscuits often due to their high saturated fat and refined sugar content. The least unhealthy biscuits for pet birds include rich tea, arrowroot, nice, and Marie biscuits.
Never give parrots biscuits containing or coated in chocolate, like chocolate chip cookies or chocolate digestives. Chocolate is toxic to birds due to the theobromine and caffeine in cacao beans.
Ingredients in Biscuits That Are Bad for Parrots
Biscuits are flavorful and delicious, but they’re not healthy snacks. Some biscuits are less unhealthy than others, so always check the ingredients list, especially for toxic ingredients.
The following ingredients adversely affect pet birds’ health:
A common question owners ask is, “Can parrots have sugar?” Unfortunately, refined sugar is bad for parrots because the nutrients have been stripped from sugar during production.
Sugar is a carbohydrate that serves solely as an energy source. A teaspoon of sugar (equivalent to 4 grams) contains 16 calories. Unfortunately, brown sugar is no more nutritious than white sugar.
When parrots consume too much sugar, the pancreas must work harder to produce insulin. Sugar enters the bloodstream, leading to insulin spikes, causing an energy rush followed by a crash.
This can lead to parrots acting erratically and developing behavioral problems.
Too much sugar can cause heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It can also affect a parrot’s moods and emotions, sometimes leading to anxiety and depression.
You may want to reduce a bird’s sugar intake when offering biscuits, but animals shouldn’t be given artificial sweeteners. Sugar substitutes to avoid include the following:
- Acesulfame K.
Although not as extensively tested as in other animal species, it’s feared that sweeteners can lead to medical conditions like hypoglycemia and liver damage.
Margarine is used to make many commercial biscuits because it’s less expensive than butter. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol, elevating the risk of inflammation markers, heart disease, and stroke.
According to MSD Veterinary Manual, obesity in birds is linked to a high-fat diet. If you see ‘hydrogenated vegetable oil’ (HVO) on the list of ingredients, those biscuits are unhealthy.
Obesity strains a parrot’s organs and joints. As parrots spend their time standing on perches, their legs and feet may be affected by arthritis or bumblefoot (ulcerative pododermatitis).
Salt (Sodium Chloride)
All animals need some dietary sodium, but overconsumption leads to salt toxicosis (hypernatremia). It unbalances the body’s electrolyte and fluid balance, leading to dehydration or kidney failure.
Can Parrots Eat Biscuits?
The biscuits you can safely feed parrots depend on the ingredients. As mentioned, most biscuits are high in saturated fats, refined sugars, preservatives, artificial colors, flavorings, and sweeteners.
Biscuits provide carbs for energy and some protein (from eggs) for healthy muscles, skin, and feathers. Unfortunately, not all cookie and biscuit recipes utilize eggs.
Cookies contain milk, but the digestive system of parrots is ineffective at processing lactose because their bodies don’t produce lactase. Usually, the adverse effects of lactose will only be mild.
Sharing a small piece of plain biscuit with a parrot every 1-2 weeks won’t cause any lasting harm. Too many biscuits will lead to weight gain and long-term health conditions.
Can Parrots Eat Ginger Biscuits?
Ginger biscuits (ginger nuts) are popular due to their sweet, spicy taste and robust texture.
Ginger biscuits commonly feature these ingredients:
- Self-raising flour.
- Salted butter.
- Ground/grated ginger.
- Golden syrup.
- Brown sugar.
- Bicarbonate of soda.
The hard texture provides enrichment and allows parrots to wear down their ever-growing beaks.
Fed in moderation, ginger nuts are among the healthier biscuits because molasses is a good source of iron, which is needed for red blood cell production and the flow of oxygenated blood.
Ginger quells nausea, so wild parrots may nibble on ginger to soothe an upset stomach. It has also been found that ginger has beneficial anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger biscuits don’t have the same nutritional benefits as natural ginger. Instead, feed raw ginger to parrots, or let it dissolve in boiling water and cool to make a refreshing drink.
Can Parrots Eat Digestive Biscuits?
Digestives are sweet-tasting biscuits with a crumbly texture that appeals to the avian palette.
They were created 130+ years ago to give hard-working people nutritious food. Unfortunately, mass biscuit production means many healthy ingredients have long since been abandoned.
Digestive biscuits usually contain the following ingredients:
- Brown wheat.
- Vegetable oil.
- Granulated sugar.
- Malt extract.
- Sodium bicarbonate.
Digestives are made from whole-grain flour, so a bird will feel full and have regular bowel movements.
Unfortunately, cooked vegetable oils produce trans fats because they raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and lower HDL (good) cholesterol, causing it to accumulate in the arteries.
One way to give a parrot a safe amount of digestive biscuit is to crush 1/5th of it and sprinkle it over a piece of banana for added flavor and crunch.
Can Parrots Eat Rich Tea Biscuits?
Although rich tea biscuits contain vegetable oil, they’re lower in fat and calories than the others. They’re not the tastiest biscuits but are less bad for parrots.
The ingredients in rich tea biscuits are as follows:
- Vegetable oil.
- Wheat flour.
- Glucose-fructose syrup.
- Malt extract.
McVitie’s rich tea biscuits contain 38 calories, compared to 71 calories in the average digestive biscuit. McVitie’s rich tea contains 30% less fat and 36 calories.
They still have a glycemic index of 70, which means they’re relatively high in sugar. However, rich tea biscuits contain just 0.1 grams of saturated fat (1.3 grams of fat overall).
They contain some fiber (0.4 grams), contributing to a healthy digestive system.
Can Parrots Eat Arrowroot Biscuits?
Parrots like eating arrowroot biscuits due to their interesting flavor and crispy texture.
Arrowroot biscuits feature titular arrowroot, a starch derived from the rhizomes of tropical plants like Florida arrowroot and Zamia integrifolia.
Arrowroot is beneficial for wounds, diarrhea, and constipation, so it has medicinal uses.
McVities arrowroot biscuits don’t contain hydrogenated vegetable oil, artificial colors, or flavorings. The ingredients used to make arrowroot biscuits include the following:
- Wheat flour.
- Baking powder.
- Vanilla extract.
- White sugar.
An arrowroot biscuit has 40 calories, which compares favorably to rich tea biscuits. It contains several B vitamins (including thiamine, niacin, and pyridoxine), calcium, potassium, and iron.
Can Parrots Eat Marie Biscuits?
Marie biscuits (called Maria cookies or galletas Maria) are light, crispy, and moderately sweet.
The ingredients used to make Marie biscuits include the following:
- Wheat flour.
- Vegetable oil.
- Sugar syrup.
- Barley malt extract.
- Sodium Bicarbonate.
Although they have various flavorings, vanilla is the most commonly used. Avoid feeding parrots Marie biscuits flavored with white, milk, or dark chocolate because it’s toxic to birds.
Marie biscuits contain refined wheat flour and sugar, so not all the ingredients are good for birds. However, Maria cookies contain 35 calories per biscuit.
Look for varieties of Marie biscuits made with oats, added fiber, and fortified with vitamins. They’re also easy to make from scratch, meaning you can make Maria biscuits for parrots at home.
Can Parrots Eat Nice Biscuits?
Nice biscuits originated in England in the 1890s, not the French city of Nice.
They can be plain or flavored with coconut, which parrots enjoy. They’re oblong-shaped and coated in sugar, giving them a distinctive and delicious taste.
The ingredients used to make Nice biscuits are as follows:
- Desiccated coconut.
- Caster sugar.
- Plain flower.
Although not as low in calories as rich tea biscuits, they contain just 40 calories per biscuit. Although Nice biscuits are higher in fat, they’re lower in sugar than the alternatives.
Can Parrots Eat Cookies?
Cookies are delicious baked treats but are high in fat and sugar but low in moisture.
Cookies contain artificial colorings and flavorings. Like all sweet foods, they cause a spike in insulin and blood sugar levels because the ingredients are absorbed into the bloodstream.
A parrot will experience excess energy followed by severe lethargy as its blood sugar levels plummet. Despite being high in calories, parrots won’t feel full after eating a sugar-laden cookie.
These are the most popular types of cookies include the following:
- Peanut butter cookies.
- Oatmeal raisin cookies.
- Sugar cookies.
- Lemon cookies.
- Shortbread cookies.
- Gingersnap cookies.
- Molasses cookies.
- Butter cookies.
- Wafer cookies.
While chocolate chip cookies are okay for humans, they should never be fed to birds. Cookies are higher in sugar, fat, and calories than alternative parrot-safe treats, so other options are preferred.
Can Parrots Eat Monkey Biscuits?
Monkey biscuits are dry biscuits made with soybean meal and ground corn, wheat, and oats.
You can find monkey biscuits for parrots., which can be offered as a treat or to wean chicks to help them adjust to solid foods. Most people soak them in water to make them softer for baby parrots.
Monkey biscuits contain sugar (sucrose) and should only make up a small part of a parrot’s diet. Also, not all parrots like the flavor of monkey biscuits, preferring other snacks.
Can Parrots Eat Chocolate Biscuits?
Chocolate is dangerous for parrots, even in small doses, as it contains caffeine and theobromine.
Theobromine is found in the cacao bean. All chocolate contains it, but it’s highest in dark chocolate. White chocolate is better because it includes smaller amounts but remains unsafe.
Caffeine has the following adverse effects on the body:
- Increased heart rate.
- Heart arrhythmias.
- Cardiac arrest.
The New Zealand Veterinary Journal describes how an adult male Kea parrot, in good health, was found dead after ingesting dark chocolate.
Researchers found 20 g of chocolate in his crop, which contained 250 mg/kg theobromine, 20 mg/kg caffeine, and 3 mg/kg theophylline.
Parrots shouldn’t eat chocolate, so chocolate chip cookies and chocolate digestives should be avoided.
A piece of plain biscuit won’t harm a parrot’s health, but problems arise when they grow addicted to biscuits and reject everyday foods in favor of sugary snacks.