Home » Can Parrots Eat Cereal? [Healthy vs. Unhealthy Brands for Birds]
is cereal good for parrots?

Can Parrots Eat Cereal? [Healthy vs. Unhealthy Brands for Birds]

(Last Updated On: December 20, 2022)

Many people start their day with a bowl of cereal, and you may be tempted to share your meal with your parrot. While many parrots enjoy the crunchy texture and sweet taste of breakfast cereals, some brands contain too much sugar for them to eat regularly.

The best cereals to offer parrots are bran flakes containing lots of fiber or organic rolled oats. Parrots can also enjoy a small serving of muesli. Plain cornflakes and Cheerios are also acceptable, but be mindful of the sugar in these cereals.

Most other breakfast cereals contain too much sugar, especially those covered with frosting. Avoid any cereal that includes chocolate in the recipe, as this is toxic to parrots, and don’t feed them a cereal that contains artificial colorings, like Fruit Loops.

Cereal covered in milk mustn’t be offered to your parrot. Birds prefer dry food anyway, and parrots are lactose intolerant, so milk will lead to diarrhea or an upset stomach.

Can Parrots Eat Breakfast Cereal?

Parrots love crunchy textures and strong, sweet tastes, so cereal will likely capture their attention.

No cereal is outright healthy as far as parrots are concerned – this food must only be offered as an occasional treat, not a daily part of your bird’s meal plans.

Some forms of cereal are marketed based on taste and aesthetics, especially those aimed at children, while others promise health benefits. Not all cereals are equal, and not all are suitable for parrots.

If you purchase an organic brand made from rice, wheat, or grain, with no excess sugars or artificial additives and preservatives, there are some small health boosts to be gleaned.

What Cereals Can Birds Eat?

Cereal comes in many shapes and forms. Deciding which cereal to purchase can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if you intend to share it with your parrot.

Let’s review some best-selling cereals and discuss their suitability for birds:

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is considered the healthiest cereal choice and is among the most appropriate for a parrot. An oatmeal brand made from rolled oats is recommended, as it contains the most grain.

Avoid added sugar brands (including sugar-free oats, which will use artificial sweeteners as a substitute) or flavors. Instant oats should also be avoided.

Oats are best sourced from a health food store rather than a supermarket. This way, you’re likelier to purchase pure, organic oats, with minimal tampering designed to appeal to human taste buds.

Muesli

Muesli is made from oats and grains mixed with seeds and nuts – all part of a traditional parrot diet. You must ensure the muesli contains no added sugars or preservatives.

A specialist market or store can provide pure, organic muesli.

Bran Flakes and Raisin Bran

Bran flakes are another comparatively healthy choice for parrots. This cereal is packed with fiber, ensuring your parrot enjoys a healthy digestive tract.

Look for a brand that contains less sugar than the traditional Kellogg’s variety that’s most popular.

Raisin bran is even better than traditional bran flakes. Raisins make an effective treat for parrots and contain more nutrition than any cereal.

Raisins will also create a difference in textures while snacking that will appeal to your parrot.

can parrots eat corn flakes?

Cornflakes

Corn flakes can be a generic term, but they’re toasted corn in their purest form.

A brand of cornflakes with no additives or preservatives is safe for your parrot in small servings. Sugar still makes its way into the recipe, so feed in moderation.

Special K

Special K and cornflakes look similar, but Special K is marketed as a healthier choice. Special K is made from puffed rice rather than corn but is safe for parrots.

Special K is higher in almost every nutrient than cornflakes (iron is the only mineral found in greater abundance in cornflakes). However, it’s unlikely that your parrot will eat enough Special K to benefit.

Avoid varieties with additional ingredients if you wish to bring Special K into a parrot’s diet. Special K comes in numerous forms, often topped with berries, fruits, honey, or dark chocolate.

Chocolate should be avoided as it contains theobromine, which the New Zealand Veterinary Journal confirms that consuming this compound can be fatal for parrots.

The fruits found in Special K are dehydrated, so they’ll lack the nutrition of fresh fruit

Frosted Flakes (Frosties)

Many people find traditional cornflakes quite dull on the palate, so they opt for Frosted Flakes – also known as Frosties in some territories.

This cereal comprises cornflakes coated in a substantial layer of sugar. This may make Frosted Flakes tasty and appealing to humans and parrots alike, but they’re a potential health disaster for a pet bird.

Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and Honey Bunches of Oats

Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and Honey Bunches of Oats are loaded with sugar, sucralose, and other additives. While your parrot will likely enjoy the sweet taste and crunchy texture, they’re not appropriate for birds.

Cheerios

Cheerios are a cornerstone of pantries across America, with Nestlé’s flagship cereal the best-selling choice in the country. Parrots can share your breakfast in small quantities if you have Cheerios in your home.

Always shop for standard Cheerios, not the flavored varieties, as these are unsuitable for parrots. Regular Cheerios still contain sugar but are nowhere near as much as many other kinds of cereal.

Honey Nut Cheerios

Honey Nut Cheerios are made with the human palate in mind rather than a parrot’s health. This variety of cereal may be very appealing to taste, but the sugar content makes it fattening for parrots.

Froot Loops and Apple Jacks

If you live with children, you likely have these variations of Cheerios in your home. Froot Loops and Apple Jacks are treated to be brightly colored and offer a different, sweeter taste sensation.

These additives are harmful to your parrot. Even if your bird escapes unscathed from the additives, the exceptionally high sugar content in these brightly-colored cereals will be bad for your bird’s health.

Oreo O’s

Oreo cookies contain less cocoa than you may expect, but they’re still chocolate-based. This means that Cheerio-shaped Oreo O’s should never be fed to a parrot due to the risk of theobromine toxicity.

Rice Krispies

Parrots will love the light and crunchy texture of Rice Krispies, but this cereal is just a treat.

It contains no vitamins that’ll benefit your parrot in any way. Rice Krispies don’t have many calories, but those present are nutrient-neutral at best.

Weetabix

Weetabix is a popular breakfast cereal in Europe, especially the UK. Made up of large sheets of wholegrain wheat, it’s low in sugar and salt and thus can be fed to parrots.

The manufacturer also produces Oatibix, made from equally parrot-safe rolled oats.

The only snag with Weetabix is that it’s not widely available in the USA, and when you can find it, you may need to pay imported prices.

Frosted Mini-Wheats

As an alternative to Weetabix, you may consider Frosted Mini-Wheats. This is essentially Weetabix broken into smaller chunks, coated with a sweet frosting.

As with Frosted Flakes, the sugar content in the frosting more than cancels out the high fiber in the wheat, making this cereal unsuitable for parrots.

Lucky Charms

Arguably the world’s most popular novelty cereal, Lucky Charms are popular due to the seven different shapes of marshmallow treats alongside oat cereal.

The oats used in the cereal component of Lucky Charms are considerably more processed than standard rolled oats, and the marshmallows are filled with sugar and artificial coloring.

This cereal offers nothing of merit to a parrot and should be avoided.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Cinnamon Toast Crunch brings the great taste of cinnamon toast to a solid, brittle cereal.

This lack of organic qualities is a simultaneous blessing and curse. Your parrot will gravitate to the scent of cinnamon in this cereal and love the crunchy texture, but we return to concern over the sugar content.

Offer this cereal to a parrot extremely sparingly, if at all.

Cap’n Crunch

Made from oats and corn, this sounds like the perfect cereal to offer a parrot. Cap’n Crunch is heavily treated with sugar and corn syrup. As much as parrots will love the taste, it’s unsuitable.

can parrots eat cheerios?

How to Feed Cereal to Parrots

If offering cereal to a parrot, don’t place a bowl in its cage and allow your bird to gorge.

This will be too much food, especially with the sugar content in conventional breakfast cereals, and a parrot will likely knock most of the cereal on the floor.

Measure out a tablespoon of cereal and hand-feed each morsel to your parrot. This can be a bonding exercise, or it could be used as a training treat. 

Can Birds Eat Cereal with Sugar?

Many supermarket breakfast cereals contain sugars. While not good for your parrot, these will not cause outright harm unless overeaten. Never apply additional raw sugar to cereal.

As per The Auk, many birds are sucrose intolerant and can’t digest sugar.

Parrots have a higher tolerance for naturally-occurring sugars, not least due to their wild diet, which often includes sweet-tasting fruits. Over time, your parrot will gain weight if it eats too much sugar, which enhances the risk of diabetes and other illnesses.

Can Birds Eat Cereal with Milk?

Milk contains lactose, a sugar commonly found in cow’s milk.

Many humans can consume lactose because the body creates lactase, an enzyme that breaks this sugar down and aids ingestion. Unfortunately, birds lack this enzyme and can’t digest lactose.

This means your parrot should never be offered cereal doused in milk. You could apply a lactose-free product, such as oat milk or soy milk, but birds prefer dry food, so this is unnecessary.

If your parrot consumes milk, it’ll likely experience gastric distress and develop diarrhea. Milk isn’t toxic to birds, but the inability to digest it means your bird will be uncomfortable.

How Often Can Parrots Eat Cereal?

If you must offer cereal to your parrot, keep it a treat.

One small serving of cereal twice a week is more than enough. Don’t allow your parrot to develop a taste for cereal, expecting to be fed this food over something more suitable to its dietary needs.

Breakfast cereal isn’t a core component of a wild parrot’s diet and should never be a foundation of your captive bird’s meal plans. Occasionally offering stale cereal or a roll of oats as a treat is okay.