Cereals are often touted as a healthy meal and the perfect way to start the day. Unfortunately, while they may taste nice and have a crunchy texture, not all cereals are good for parrots.
Many breakfast cereal brands include too much sugar, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.
If you decide to offer cereal to a parrot, do so in small amounts 1-2 times per week. Choose wholegrain brands that are sugar-free (no sweeteners) and entirely natural.
Popular cereal choices include original cheerios, corn flakes, and bran flakes. When selecting cereals for birds, it’s sensible to avoid highly processed options.
Breakfast Cereal for Parrots
Cereals are often touted as healthy breakfast options. However, not all cereals are healthy for your parrot, and some are healthier than others.
To help you decide on the best snack for your parrot, here are the most common breakfast cereals and whether they’re a good choice:
Most processed cereal brands aren’t ideal for parrots.
However, in terms of processed cereals, cheerios are your best choice. This brand is made with whole grain oats, making it less processed than those made with rice or corn.
There are many flavors to choose from, the healthiest being original cheerios. Unlike other flavors, the original doesn’t have artificial sweeteners or as much sugar.
This is because cheerios are made with whole grain. Compared to other processed cereal brands, original cheerios contain less sugar, at 1 gram per serving.
Even still, that still doesn’t make cheerios strictly healthy. Cheerios are still processed, which is not as healthy as unprocessed oatmeal.
Processed oat cereal still contains unhealthy ingredients, such as:
- Cane sugar
- Corn syrup
- Artificial preservatives
For example, according to The British Journal of Nutrition, processed cereals resulted in larger blood sugar and insulin spikes. That’s true compared to people who ate the same amount of oatmeal.
Honey Nut Cheerios
If you can’t get original cheerios, honey nut cheerios are a good flavor to pick. This flavor has the fewest artificial additives, but they contain a lot of sugar at 12 grams per cup.
2/ Rice Krispies
Rice Krispies are not a healthy cereal to give to your parrot. The cereal is safe, but Rice Krispies have too many additives to safely give to a parrot. Such additives include:
- Refined sugar
- Artificial flavors
- Artificial preservatives
Even homemade versions aren’t the healthiest choice for your parrot. Such versions need to be made with marshmallows and butter, two ingredients that are unsafe for parrots.
Instead, you can give plain rice to your bird, whether cooked or uncooked.
Muesli is made by combining different grains, nuts, and seeds. Most brands contain no added sugars and flavors. Compared to other types of breakfast cereal, muesli is a healthy choice.
Of course, its nutritional status will depend on the brand. Some will use different grains, and some have mix-ins. When buying muesli, avoid those with dried fruit and nuts because they’re high in oil.
Make sure that your muesli is healthy by picking one that is:
- No preservatives
- Multi-grain, or is made from different types of grain
- No added sugars
4/ Fruit Loops
Unfortunately, this brand has a high amount of sugar, at 10 grams per serving. This means that in a bowl of fruit loops, 1/3 of it is sugar.
What’s worse, fruit loops also contain artificial colors. This makes the cereal appealing, but it’s not healthy for your parrot.
5/ Lucky Charms
Lucky charms aren’t a healthy cereal for your parrot. They have some benefits because they’re made from whole grain oats, which means they contain fiber and some vitamins and minerals.
Lucky charms contain too much sugar for them to be considered healthy. Most of this sugar comes from the ‘charms,’ which are made of marshmallows. One of the main components of marshmallows is sugar. Additionally, these marshmallows are created with artificial flavorings.
The ‘charms’ make up 1/3 of the sugar in one serving. What’s worse, parrots can easily pick out these marshmallows and ignore the rest of the cereal.
Lucky charms also contain a host of artificial colors. They are known for their brightly colored cereal, but this is unhealthy.
Most drawbacks of lucky charms come from the marshmallows. If you only have lucky charms to feed your parrot, you can remove the marshmallows to reduce the unhealthy effects.
However, even without the marshmallows, you are better off choosing less processed cereals.
6/ Corn Flakes
Corn flakes are made primarily from toasted flakes of corn, making them mostly safe for your parrot to eat. Compared to other breakfast cereals, they don’t contain a lot of artificial flavors and preservatives.
However, even non-frosted corn flakes contain more sugar than original cheerios. They’re also not made with whole grain.
When buying corn flakes, always opt for the non-frosted variety. Frosted corn flakes are coated with sugar, making them incredibly unhealthy for parrots.
7/ Bran Flakes
Bran flakes are the healthiest of all the popular cereal brands you can give to your parrot.
They’re made with whole grain corn flakes and only have 4 grams of sugar in 100 grams of cereal. Bran is also a great source of fiber. Because bran flakes are made with wholegrain, they contain more vitamins and minerals.
Fiber is great for the digestive system. When consumed alongside a balanced diet, it can help avoid obesity and promote a healthy gut.
When buying bran flakes, opt for those without mix-ins. Dried fruit can increase the sugar content of the cereal. Instead, you can add fresh fruit yourself when serving them to your parrot.
Kellogg’s is the most popular but may not be the healthiest. When compared to other brands, Kellogg’s has the highest sugar content. Check other brands for less sugar, higher fiber, and higher protein.
Oatmeal is perhaps the healthiest choice of cereal for your parrot, and the best type is plain oatmeal.
Avoid the following:
- Instant oats
- Any brands with added sugar
- Flavored oatmeal
- Any sugar-free brands
Instead, opt for plain oatmeal without any additions. There are many types to choose from, but rolled oats are the best. Oats contain most of the grain, making them the healthiest type for your parrot.
How Much Cereal Can Parrots Eat?
Parrots should only be given cereal as a treat, no more than 1 tablespoon a day. Even cereal with less processing, like oatmeal and muesli, should only be provided in moderation.
That’s because even the healthiest cereals are high in fiber. Most parrot species don’t need a lot of fiber in their diet. Fiber makes a bird feel full at a quicker pace, meaning they won’t have the appetite to eat healthier, more nutrient-dense foods.
Cereal Ingredients To Avoid
When buying cereal, opt for ones that don’t contain the following ingredients:
- Sugar: Too much sugar causes obesity, leading to health problems like diabetes. Sugar can also increase the risk of yeast infection and fatty liver disease in birds.
- Artificial colors: Consuming too many food dyes have been linked to allergic reactions. Some dyes, like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, may contain carcinogenic substances.
- Xylitol: This is a common ingredient in sugar-free cereal used as a sweetener.
- Vitamins: Vitamins can easily lead to a vitamin overdose. Instead, you want your parrot to naturally get vitamins from the cereal.
Parrots can eat cereal, as long as you choose wisely. By consulting this list, you should be able to find a tasty new treat for your parrot without endangering its health or unbalancing its diet.