Before feeding your parrot cereal as a snack, ensure that it’s safe. After all, birds have digestive systems that are different from our own. What’s healthy for humans may be toxic or deadly for parrots. Before you give your parrot Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, and other brand-name cereals, start by evaluating its ingredients.
Parrots can eat cereal but should avoid added sugars, artificial flavorings, and dyes. For this reason, parrots shouldn’t eat Fruits Loops and Lucky Charms, for example. Options, such as Original Cheerios and Cornflakes, do contain sugar, but far less. The healthiest cereals for parrots are muesli, oatmeal, and bran flakes.
The cereals that most closely resemble foods that parrots eat in the wild are recommended. Avoid sugar-free cereals due to an ingredient called xylitol, which is toxic to birds in general.
Is Cereal Good For Parrots?
Cereal can provide a health boost because quality cereal is made from whole grains, usually roasted or lightly dried. The grains used for cereal come from:
The health benefits include:
- Omega-3 acids
- Polyunsaturated fats
However, corn, oats, and wheat grains may not resemble your everyday breakfast cereal. They’re made from sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, corn starch, and other ingredients. You’ll find only a trace few grains mixed in. These highly processed, artificial, and sugar-heavy grains are not safe for parrots to eat. They can cause:
- Heart issues
- Organ failure
- Vitamin and mineral deficiency
- Weakened bones
These adverse effects won’t be immediate. If your parrot snacks on sugary cereal every morning, the negative effects will arise sooner. So, opt for natural brands that prioritize whole-grain ingredients.
Hot Cereal For Parrots
Hot cereal may be one of the healthiest ways to feed cereal to parrots. If you’re making a bowl in the morning, you’ve likely filled it with:
- Wheat Berry
- Mixed grains
These are natural grains in their purest form that parrots can safely eat. Sure, hot oatmeal is sometimes mixed with sugar or milk for flavor, but you can forgo this by adding water. That ensures the cereal is entirely free of added preservatives, corn syrup, and dyes.
Cooking the cereal with hot water will make the grains softer, flavorful, and filling. By consuming hot cereal, your parrot can warm up on a cold day, get its vitamins, and share breakfast with its favorite person.
What Cereal Can Parrots Have?
Maybe you’re not concerned with the health benefits of cereal. Instead, you want to know if it’s harmful to feed your parrot Cheerios or Lucky Charms. In large amounts, it will be harmful, but what about in small amounts?
Can Parrots Eat Cheerios?
Cheerios are a world-renowned brand. They come in as many as 12 different flavors. Of all the flavors, Original Cheerios is perhaps the healthiest choice for your parrot. In fact, it’s the best when compared to most cereal brands.
The primary ingredient is whole grain oats with added Vitamin E. Original Cheerios lack artificial sweeteners and has a limited amount of sugar. Unfortunately, it still contains corn syrup and sugar, but in vastly reduced quantities.
If you’re eyeing up the other flavors, some are better than others. Honey Nut Cheerios contain the fewest artificial flavorings. Due to the added sugar, they lag in terms of nutritional value.
Can Parrots Eat Corn Flakes?
Corn Flakes are made from flakes of corn that have been toasted. It is a safe choice to feed your parrot. The artificial flavorings and preservatives are limited, and their primary ingredient is corn. In fact, non-frosted flakes contain:
- 88% corn
- Barley malt extract
- Vitamins E and B6
- Niacin, riboflavin, and folate
- Iron and zinc
This cereal is relatively healthy for your parrot, but it does have the following drawbacks:
- Lack of grain
- Low in fiber
- Lack of protein
- Sugar content
Frosted Corn Flakes are coated in a thick layer of sugar. Even non-frosted flakes have more sugar than Cheerios. That means your parrot is gaining less nutritional value. It will gain weight due to the sugar content, despite benefitting from the vitamins and minerals. This can lead to health problems, such as fatty liver disease.
Never give frosted flakes to your parrot. In a small amount, it will not immediately harm your parrot. However, this sugar content will affect the parrot’s digestive system and metabolism. Plain Corn Flakes are a safer choice.
Can Parrots Eat Bran Flakes?
Bran Flakes are a healthy cereal. These flakes are made of whole grain and contain malt. This makes them:
- High in fiber
- Rich in vitamins and minerals
Some brands have added salt and sugars, so opt for a shredded, whole wheat variety.
Can Parrots Eat Muesli?
Muesli is a cold oatmeal dish made by combining a range of grains, nuts, and seeds. You can get this food premade, pour it into a bowl, and add water. You can also combine the different ingredients separately at home.
Muesli contains natural ingredients with no added sugars and flavorings. Some brands feature dried fruits, seeds, and nuts. Muesli can provide many of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your parrot needs. Of course, the quality of the cereal depends on the muesli brand. Ensure that your cereal has the following qualities:
- Contains different types of grain
- Doesn’t contain sugars or preservatives
Can Parrots Eat Oatmeal?
Of all the cereal that you can give to your parrot, oatmeal is the healthiest choice. Plain oatmeal is:
- High in fiber
- Contains antioxidants
- Rich in vitamins and minerals.
Of course, not all oatmeal is the same. Kinds to be avoided include:
- Flavored oatmeal, as this contains sugars and artificial flavorings
- Instant oats, which have artificial preservatives
- Oatmeal with added sugar
- Sugar-free options with sweeteners.
So which oatmeal is the best? You should look for:
- Low amounts of added ingredients
- Steel-cut oats, which are more filling
- Old-fashioned rolled oats, which contain the most nutrients
Cereals Parrots Shouldn’t Eat
What are the name-brand cereals your parrot should avoid? While most won’t harm your parrot immediately, there are ones to avoid:
Can Parrots Eat Lucky Charms?
Lucky Charms are an oat-based cereal made from whole grains. That ensures it contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, there are also negatives:
The fiber content in one serving only adds up to 2 grams.
The ‘charms’ are made of marshmallows. While they’re a signature part of this cereal, marshmallows are also its downfall. Made of sugar, corn starch, and artificial flavorings, the charms ensure that sugar makes up 1/3 of a single serving. Parrots can easily pick out marshmallows and have too much sugar in their diets.
Dyes give Lucky Charms their iconic color. Artificial food dyes are linked to many health issues, including:
- Behavioral issues
If you want to give Lucky Charms to your parrot, remove the marshmallow pieces. This can reduce the sugar content in the cereal. However, you’ll find even the plain bits of Lucky Charms have minimal health benefits.
Can Parrots Eat Fruit Loops?
The fruity visual and brightly colored pieces make it seem natural and safe. In fact, a toucan is even the brand’s mascot. That makes it hard to resist introducing your parrot to this cereal.
However, just like Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops have a whopping 10 grams of sugar in each serving. That means that 1/3 of what’s in the bowl is made of sugar. Unlike Lucky Charms, there’s no way to pick it out.
Fruit Loops contain artificial flavorings and dyes. Those brightly-colored loops aren’t made with natural ingredients and have a low amount of fiber. Your parrot will gain little nutritional value and will gain weight.
Can Parrots Have Xylitol?
Parrots cannot have xylitol. Xylitol is commonly used as a sugar substitute in commercial products, such as candies. Xylitol can also be used as a sugar substitute in cereal.
Xylitol Poisoning In Animals
According to the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, Xylitol harms cape sugarbirds. The birds showed signs of poisoning just 15 minutes after ingesting the xylitol nectar solution. The solution proved fatal for 27 out of 29 birds.
Do not be tempted by sugar-free brands of cereal. While they may lower the glucose levels and save your parrot from gaining weight, they can be deadly. The toxic effects of xylitol will further disrupt the bird’s digestive system.
Can Parrots Eat Zinc In Cereal?
Is zinc bad for parrots? Many brands include zinc as an additive as it’s intended to:
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve the function of the thyroid
- Improve vision
- Aid in the digestive system’s ability to extract nutrients
Like other minerals, zinc is a necessary component in animal bodies. Parrots can benefit from zinc as long it’s given in moderation. An overdose of zinc can result in:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramps
How To Give Cereal To Your Parrot
How you feed cereal to your parrot can also affect its health perks. Keep these pointers in mind:
Never add milk to your parrot’s cereal because parrots cannot process dairy. They do not produce the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest milk and dairy by-products.
An excess of lactose in a bird’s stomach can lead to problems. According to Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, unabsorbed carbohydrates, like lactose, can lead to health issues in the avian species. These include osmotic diarrhea and bacterial overgrowth. Additionally, unprocessed milk can boost the production of gasses like:
- Carbon dioxide
This, in turn, can lead to flatulence and the buildup of gas in the stomach. Make your parrot’s cereal with water.
Cooked or Uncooked
Parrots can eat cooked and uncooked cereal. The heat and stirring process will not leech out any vitamins, minerals, or nutrients. However, parrots have their own unique preferences, so see which one your parrot likes.
Serve in Moderation
Cereal is not a good substitute for other aspects of a parrot’s diet and should only be served in moderation. No matter how healthy the cereal brand is, a balanced diet is always crucial for your parrot’s health. Be sure to feed your parrot seeds, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and grains, with cereal as an occasional treat.