Many owners share snacks with their parrots. This isn’t always a wise idea, as parrots can rarely eat the same foods as humans. One of the most common hunger-preventing snacks is crisps, which some parrots enjoy.
Crisps are bad for parrots as they’re loaded with saturated fat, salt, and carbs. Not only can these high-calorie ingredients make parrots gain weight, become obese, and develop fatty liver disease, but they contribute to mental health problems and stress. Cooked, starchy foods such as crisps also contain acrylamide, a cancer-causing compound that’s harmful to birds.
As a result, you must resist the temptation to share crisps with your parrot. If your parrot enjoys the texture of this crunchy snack, you could make your own healthy vegetable crisps instead. As long as you omit the oil and flavorings, vegetables crisps are good source of essential vitamins and minerals.
Can You Feed Parrots Crisps?
Crisps are junk food with almost no nutritional value. Not only do they have no health benefits, but, as mentioned, they’re made from ingredients that can cause your parrot to gain weight.
Owners that share their potato chips with their birds are encouraging them to get a taste for this unhealthy snack. All junk food is off-limits to parrots because oily, fried food contains potentially dangerous ingredients that can make parrots sick, reducing their life expectancy. Crisps are unhealthy for parrots because they:
- Contain lots of empty calories
- Are high in saturated fat
- Have too much sodium
- Contain acrylamide, which is harmful to birds
- Have no healthy vitamins
- Are cooked in fatty oils
For your parrot to remain healthy, 75-80% of its diet should comprise of pellets, while the remaining 20-25% should include fruits, vegetables, unsalted seeds and nuts, and leafy greens. All of these things are an occasional treat.
Are Crisps Bad for Parrots?
As established, crisps are a bad choice for parrots. They’re not toxic, but they cause a variety of health problems with long-term consumption. These are the reasons why:
High in Calories
Crisps are high in empty calories. Compared to the same amount of fruit and vegetables, crisps have much more calories but fewer nutrients. Crisps also contain little fiber, so parrots get hungry soon after eating them. As a result, parrots need to eat far more of their pellets and healthy snacks for sustenance, causing them to gain weight.
High in Saturated Fat
A small amount of healthy fat is good for parrots and provides them with the energy they need. However, most crisp varieties are packed with saturated fat, including those considered more healthy.
Saturated fat is linked to obesity and can increase your parrot’s likelihood of developing weight-related diseases. Heavy parrots are also more susceptible to joint and bone problems, as the excess weight puts their limbs under too much pressure.
As a result, overweight parrots struggle to perch and lose their balance, significantly reducing their quality of life.
Fatty Liver Disease
Because of their high-fat content, parrots who eat crisps are at risk of developing fatty liver disease. This is one of the most common parrot diseases and birds that have it experience:
- An enlarged liver
- An overgrown beak
- Appetite loss
- Black spots around the beak and toenails
- Labored breathing
- Poor feather quality
Fat builds up around the liver, causing it to malfunction. The body also struggles to remove harmful toxins, leaving the parrot vulnerable to secondary health conditions. To prevent fatty liver disease, only feed your parrot healthy snacks a few times a week.
High in Sodium
High-salt foods are bad for parrots because they can’t excrete sodium in the same way we can. As a result, too much salt has a negative effect on the parrot’s body. In the wild, parrots don’t experience the same amounts of harmful salt, highlighting how unnatural it is for them. Excess sodium causes:
Polydipsia describes how parrots develop an excessive, abnormal thirst after eating too much salt. It’s common in parrots who frequently eat high-salt foods, including crisps. After eating crisps, you’ll notice your parrot drinks more water to flush the sodium from its body. That’s because the body needs to thin the blood in order to dilute it out.
Polyuria is closely linked to polydipsia and is where excess salt appears in the parrot’s urine after flushing it out of its system. Some sodium in your bird’s urine is normal, but too much will eventually cause your parrot to stop urinating as much as it needs to. This will affect its kidney function in the long-term, making it difficult for the organs to flush the excess salt out.
As well as causing issues with your parrot’s blood and urine, excess salt affects the body and damages muscles over time. The main problems include:
- Balance loss
These symptoms can make life uncomfortable for parrots.
As described by Frontiers in Nutrition, acrylamide (AA) is a water-soluble white crystalline solid that’s sometimes formed during high-temperature cooking. It occurs in starchy foods, such as potatoes, and forms when they are:
This means it’s found in crisps. According to the Changing Markets Foundation, nearly one in five potato crisp varieties in the UK has high acrylamide levels.
Sadly, animals fare the worst from eating crisps, as laboratory tests show that acrylamide causes cancer. That’s because, once acrylamide has been absorbed by the body’s cells, it’s converted into a series of compounds that react with their DNA. This results in genetic mutations, increasing the risk of tumor formation.
Some crisps contain a surprisingly high amount of sugar. Refined sugar is highly unhealthy for parrots. During the manufacturing process, sugar is stripped of its nutrients. The body then has to take nutrients from its stores to metabolize them, leaving the parrot vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies. This leads to several health problems, including:
- Bacterial infections
- Low immune system
- Muscle weakness
- Stomach cramps
- Visual impairment
- Weight gain
That’s why you should check the ingredients list carefully whenever choosing to feed your parrot a new snack, as refined sugar is often a hidden ingredient.
Mental Health Conditions
An unhealthy diet is linked to stress and other behavioral conditions. Parrots mentally thrive when you feed them healthy, nutritious foods – junk food makes them irritable and prone to aggressive outbursts. Their cognitive function is also likely to suffer. A nutritionally poor diet is also linked with deficiencies, which causes:
- Feather plucking
- Repetitive behaviors (stereotypies)
No Essential Nutrients
Crisps contain no nutritional value. Instead, they’ll be consumed in preference to healthier foods that offer vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Parrots need a balanced diet that contains:
- Healthy fats
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin E
- Minerals, such as magnesium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus
The overconsumption of crisps is also likely to leave your parrot deficient in essential nutrients and will cause long-term, potentially permanent health problems.
Can Parrots Eat Doritos?
A Senegal parrot named Kili once starred in a Doritos advert, which saw her try to get hold of her owner’s crisps while he attempted to teach her tricks. However, this advert is misleading, as parrots shouldn’t eat Doritos.
While a small piece of a Dorito potato chip is unlikely to cause too much damage, you don’t want to risk your bird getting a taste for them, as it’ll begin to beg every time you open a bag of crisps. This can lead to behavioral issues.
Doritos also contain preservatives and additives, which give them their tasty, tangy flavor. Even the plain ones are made with copious amounts of salt, which isn’t healthy for parrots to eat, as established.
Can Parrots Eat Pringles?
Again, like all crisps, Pringles are harmful to parrots. They’re cooked in oil and contain artificial flavorings, colorings, and seasonings, which are harmful to parrots.
There isn’t such a thing as unsalted Pringles, so each crisp contains too much fat, oil, and calories. As a result, your parrot will likely gain too much weight after eating Pringles and become hungry too soon afterward. That’s why you shouldn’t give your parrot Pringles, especially in case it starts asking for more.
Can Parrots Eat Tortilla Crisps?
Plain, unsalted tortilla chips aren’t as bad for parrots as Doritos, Pringles, or other flavored crisps. However, most come with added salt and are made with chemicals so that they stay fresher for longer.
They also offer no nutritional value, meaning your bird wastes its calories when it could be eating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and other healthy kitchen scraps.
Similarly, additional ingredients are commonly added to tortilla crisps, such as salsa, guacamole, and cheese. These aren’t healthy either – especially guacamole, which is made with parrot-toxic avocado.
Can Parrots Eat French Fries?
French fries are a slightly healthier option for parrots, as long as they’re homecooked without artificial flavorings, seasonings, and salt. You also shouldn’t deep-fry them in oil if you plan to give them to your parrot. If you cut raw potatoes and cook them in the oven, they’re not as harmful, and you can share the smallest pieces with your parrot.
However, even by taking these steps, French fries aren’t the most nutritious snack and needlessly replace foods that contain healthy vitamins and minerals. As a rule of thumb, don’t feed your bird any form of junk food to be on the safe side.
What Are The Healthiest Crisps for Parrots?
In reality, there aren’t any healthy crisps for parrots – at least not the kind you can buy from the shelves. However, you can make your own healthy vegetable crisps by baking them in the oven. Carrots, parsnips, and potatoes make the tastiest crisps, and you can bake them for yourself by following these steps:
- Preheat your oven to 200 °C.
- Peel and finely slice the carrot, then dry the pieces using a clean tea towel.
- Do the same with the parsnip and potato, then lay all the pieces on a non-stick baking tray.
- Sprinkle a little bit of olive oil (not too much) and then bake for 6-8 minutes until the vegetables turn golden. Keep checking on them, as the carrot may cook a little quicker.
- Let them cool, and then serve them to your parrot.
If your parrot enjoys the crunchy texture of crisps, it’ll enjoy these healthy vegetable crisps too.
Are There Any Healthy Alternatives To Crisps?
There’s a limited amount of healthy foods parrots can have, and there are even fewer crisp alternatives. However, if your parrot enjoys the texture of crisps, consider the following nutritious foods instead:
- Plain, unflavored popcorn
- Baked or mashed potatoes
- Carrot sticks
- Dried apple rings
- Cooked grains
All of these things are made with natural ingredients, so they shouldn’t cause your parrot any problems and are a good way to boost its vitamins and minerals.
While crisps aren’t a parrot-friendly snack, there are so many healthy foods you can treat your parrot to instead. As well as the foods we’ve mentioned, try adding a balanced selection of fruits and vegetables to your parrot’s diet.