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are parrots allowed crackers?

Can Parrots Eat Crackers? (Good vs. Bad Brands)

Last Updated on April 7, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Yes, parrots can eat crackers. However, they shouldn’t be fed often because crackers are empty calories. You can safely feed crackers to parrots as a treat or training reward.

Most brands, including Graham crackers and saltine crackers, are high in salt, fat, sugar, and corn syrup. When overeaten, these calorie-laden ingredients cause weight gain and high blood pressure.

Due to their basic ingredients, cream crackers are less harmful but contain no beneficial vitamins and minerals. Also, some parrots may favor snack treats over more wholesome, nutritious foods.

Why Crackers Are Bad for Parrots

If a parrot regularly eats too many crackers, it may grow ill due to the following:

Sodium

Salt performs various functions, from enhancing flavor to increasing the shelf life of food.

Parrots need sodium to avoid polyuria (excessive fluid excretion), slow growth, and weight loss. Unfortunately, excessive salt adversely affects a bird’s balance of electrolytes and fluids.

Excessive sodium (hypernatremia) negatively affects birds’ bodies, especially the nervous system. Since crackers are cooked and coated in salt, this can lead to the following conditions:

Polydipsia

Polydipsia is an excessive or abnormal thirst. The name comes from the Greek word polus, which means many, and dipsa, which means thirst.

This is a common symptom in parrots that eat lots of crackers.

As sodium accumulates in the blood, the body attempts to thin out the blood and dilute the salt. To achieve this, the parrot drinks more water to restore balance.

can you feed parrots crackers?

Polyuria

The term polyuria comes from the Greek language, with uria meaning ‘the presence of urine.’ To purge extra salt, the body dilutes the blood with water. Parrots excrete more waste through the cloaca.

Musculoskeletal Symptoms

Hypernatremia is an electrolyte imbalance.

When a parrot has consumed too much salt from crackers, it may experience damage to its nervous system. This can lead to the following musculoskeletal problems:

Sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup

Crackers with a sweet taste contain sugars or sweeteners to appeal to the human palette. Unfortunately, some human foods are bad for parrots.

Depending on the type of cracker, a parrot may be affected by these ingredients:

  • Excessive refined sugar, such as graham crackers.
  • High fructose corn syrup, such as animal crackers.
  • Artificial sweeteners, like Xylitol, are toxic to birds.

High fructose corn syrup comprises 50% glucose and 50% fructose.

Glucose is the most common sugar derived from starch. Compared to fructose, glucose is healthier because it’s easier for the body to transport and can be used by cells.

Fructose must be converted before it’s used. However, it’s converted into stored carbs or fat in the liver. Unfortunately, they have adverse effects on parrots, including:

Obesity

Weight gain is the most common effect of high fructose corn syrup in biscuits.

The Lancet observed 548 schoolchildren and found that consuming sugary drinks with high fructose corn syrup increased the schoolchildren’s BMIs.

The same thing will inevitably happen to parrots. This can lead to everything from an unwillingness or inability to exercise to degenerative joint conditions like arthritis.

Inflammation

Fructose corn syrup consumption has been linked to diseases related to inflammation.

While inflammation is the immune system’s way of attacking harmful pathogens or healing itself, it can lead to chronic diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

According to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, fructose worsens inflammatory diseases due to uric acid production. It has also been linked to increased advanced glycation end products or AGEs.

Empty Calories

Crackers are empty calories made from flour or high fructose corn syrup. Calories provide energy but few nutrients, and depending on the brand, crackers have minimal nutritional value.

Saltine Crackers

Saltine crackers are lower in fat, calories, and additives than other crackers. They’re made from a refined grain, so they’re white flour.

Saltine crackers have a high salt content (929 mg per 100 grams), which can lead to the following:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Constant thirst and the higher production of urates.

You can safely feed a parrot 1-2 saltine crackers every few weeks.

Prawn Crackers

Around 1/3 of a prawn cracker is fat. As they’re so light, this creates the impression that they’re low in calories. A large bag of prawn crackers has about the same calories as a 50 g bag of potato chips.

Prawn crackers may contain slightly less sodium than saltines, but there isn’t much difference. 100 grams of prawn crackers contain 906 mg of sodium.

They may have other unhealthy ingredients, like artificial food colorings, alongside flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate.

Always check the ingredients, as some brands contain more natural ingredients than others.

Graham Crackers

There’s 371 mg of sodium per 100 grams of Graham crackers.

Graham crackers are high in calories due to their sugar content. According to the USDA, 100 grams of Graham crackers contain 25.81 grams because of the added sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and honey.

You can find recipes online for baking your own. Cut out most of the sugar in the recipe, and you’ll have a cracker that’s slightly more nutritious but not healthy for pet parrots.

is it safe to feed my parrot crackers?

Ritz Crackers

This savory cracker is made from white flour, oil, sugar, salt, and flavoring. While Ritz crackers are a tasty snack, they have minimal nutritional value.

Ritz crackers still have a high sodium content. There are 882 mg of sodium in 100 grams of Ritz crackers, and that’s not much different from saltine or prawn crackers.

Cream Crackers

Cream crackers are among the safest crackers to feed parrots. With 533 mg of sodium per 100 grams, they contain less salt. These savory, crispy foods only contain:

  • Wheat flour.
  • Vegetable oil.
  • Yeast.
  • Salt.
  • Black pepper.
  • Baking soda (sodium hydrogen carbonate).

Cream crackers don’t contain cream. Creaming refers to the process of blending flour and oil. They’re made from wheat flour or oats, containing some B-complex vitamins and dietary fiber.

Cheese Crackers

Popular types of cheese crackers include:

  • Cheddars.
  • Cheese Nips.
  • Cheez-It.
  • Goldfish.
  • Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies.

Is cheese healthy for parrots? While parrots can eat cheese biscuits, they’re best avoided entirely.

Dairy products contain lactose (the sugar in milk). Birds lack the digestive enzyme lactase because they don’t drink their mother’s milk, meaning cheese consumption can cause digestive distress.

Cheese is high in fat, calories, artificial flavor enhancers, and preservatives.

Crackers are harmful if fed regularly and long-term because they’re high in fat, salt, sugar, calories, and artificial preservatives. Giving parrots crackers has no health benefits.

They have a delicious flavor, enticing scent, and crunchy texture, meaning many parrots will reject healthier foods for these tasty and eye-catching treats.