One of the first things you might teach your parrot is, “Polly want a cracker?” You see it in movies, books, and TV shows, so believe that crackers are a safe treat for parrots.
Parrots shouldn’t eat crackers because they’re unhealthy and a source of empty calories. Most leading brands, including Graham crackers and saltine crackers, contain high amounts of salt, fat, sugar, and corn syrup, and these ingredients cause weight gain and high blood pressure when eaten to excess.
Cream crackers are less harmful due to their basic ingredients, but they’re not nutritious food. You can feed crackers to your parrot once a week as a special treat.
Is It Safe To Feed My Parrot Crackers?
If your parrot eats too many crackers, it may develop illnesses due to the following:
Excessive sodium (hypernatremia) has various negative effects on the body. Since the most popular brands of crackers are cooked and coated in salt, this can lead to the following conditions:
Polydipsia is defined as 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 too many crackers.
As sodium builds up in the blood, the body will attempt to thin out the blood and dilute the salt. To achieve this, your parrot will start to drink more water to restore balance in the blood.
The term polyuria is from the Greek language, with uria meaning ‘the presence of urine.’ To purge extra salt, the body will use water to dilute the blood. While parrots don’t urinate, they produce uric acid.
Hypernatremia is an electrolyte problem. When a parrot has consumed too much salt from crackers, it may experience damage to its muscles. Musculoskeletal problems include:
- Losing balance
Sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup
Depending on the type of cracker, your parrot may be adversely affected by these ingredients:
- Excessive refined sugar, such as graham crackers.
- High fructose corn syrup, such as animal crackers.
High fructose corn syrup comprises 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
Glucose is the more common type of sugar that comes from starch. Compared to fructose, it’s a healthier sugar. It is easier for the body to transport and can be used by cells in the body.
Fructose needs to be converted before it’s used. However, it’s also converted into stored carbs or fat in the liver. Unfortunately, they have negative effects on parrots, including:
The most common effect on the body of high fructose corn syrup is obesity and weight gain.
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, with other health consequences.
Fructose corn syrup consumption has been linked to diseases related to inflammation.
According to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, this ingredient worsens inflammatory diseases due to uric acid production. It has also been linked to an increase in advanced glycation end products or AGEs, which are harmful to a parrot’s cells.
Crackers are mostly ’empty’ calories from flour or high fructose corn syrup. Calories provide energy but few nutrients. Depending on the brand, crackers may have no nutritional value.
Can Parrots Eat 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 your parrot 1-2 saltines every few weeks.
Can Parrots Eat Prawn Crackers?
Around one-third of each prawn cracker is fat. Because they’re so light, this gives the impression that they’re low in calories. A large bag of prawn crackers has about the same calories as a 50g bag of crisps.
Prawn crackers may contain slightly less sodium than saltines, but there isn’t a significant difference. According to the USDA, 100 grams of prawn crackers contain 906 mg of sodium.
They may have other unhealthy ingredients, such as artificial food colorings, alongside flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate.
However, the occasional prawn cracker won’t harm your parrot as a one-off reward or special treat. Always check the ingredients, as some brands contain more natural ingredients than others.
Can Parrots Eat Graham Crackers?
There is 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 due to the added sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and honey.
You can find recipes online to bake your own version. Cut out most of the sugar from the recipe, and you’ll have a cracker that’s slightly healthier but not healthy for parrots.
Can Parrots Eat Ritz Crackers?
This savory cracker is made from white flour, oil, sugar, salt, and flavoring. While Ritz crackers are a tasty snack for parrots, they contain little nutritional value.
Ritz crackers still have a high sodium content. According to the USDA, there is 882 mg of sodium in 100 grams of Ritz crackers, and that’s not much different from saltine crackers or prawn crackers.
Can Parrots Eat Cream Crackers?
Cream crackers are one of 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
- Black pepper
- Baking soda (sodium hydrogen carbonate)
Cream crackers don’t have cream in their ingredients. Instead, the word comes from how these crackers are prepared. Creaming refers to the process of blending flour and oil.
Cream crackers are made from wheat flour or oats, containing some B-complex vitamins and dietary fiber.
Crackers are harmful if fed regularly and long-term as they’re high in fat, sugar, calories, and preservatives. Some parrots will reject healthier foods for these tasty treats.