Seafood and fish are good sources of animal proteins. They’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin d, and phosphorus. They can improve a parrot’s immune system, brain function, bones, feather quality, beak, and energy levels. However, consider the less obvious pitfalls before feeding a parrot fish and seafood.
Parrots can eat fish and seafood. However, exposure to pollutants, toxins, and heavy metals (mercury) can make crabs, shrimp, and shellfish less healthy. This also applies to fish, especially tuna, which is high in mercury. Reduced quantities of these harmful substances are found in salmon, cod, and catfish.
Farm-grown fish are the safest option. If you feed your parrot canned fish, ensure that it’s water-packed without added salt or oil. Fish and seafood can safely be fed to your parrot in small quantities as a treat. However, too much can unbalance your parrot’s diet, leading to digestive issues.
Are Parrots Allowed To Eat Fish?
Fish is a healthy food as it contains vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that aren’t found in other varieties of food.
That said, parrots should only be fed fish 1-2 times per week (and only certain healthier varieties). Fish and seafood aren’t substitutes for other dietary staples, such as pellets, fruit, and vegetables.
High Quality Animal Protein
Alongside chicken, fish is considered one of the best sources of animal protein. That’s because it’s lower in saturated fat and calories. Parrots rely on high amounts of protein in their diet to:
- Muscle growth
- Tissue repair
- Growing strong feathers
- pH and fluid balance
The best source of protein is from animals. Vegetarian diets contain some amino acids but lack several essential amino acids, such as lysine and methionine.
According to Food and Chemical Toxicology, eating the recommended quantity of fish per week can increase a parrot’s lifespan. That’s better than red meats, many of which are linked to certain diseases.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Fish high in omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, herring, lake trout, and light tuna. The two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids in fish are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in these ways:
- Cardiovascular disease prevention
- Lower risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- Increased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)
Salmon and sardines are often used for extracting omega-3 for use in vitamin capsules.
According to the Journal of Veterinary Medicine, seeds, leafy greens, and fruits aren’t a rich source of calcium, so parrots can be calcium deficient.
Certain types of fish meat are a good source of calcium. Calcium is essential for maintaining joint health and keeping the bones strong. That’s crucial for parrots, which rely heavily on their:
These body parts are all made of bone. If your parrot is low on calcium, you may find its:
- Brittle feathers
- Beak chipping
- Talons crack or develop fissures
- Compromised eggshell production
- Clutch desertion (hatchlings don’t hatch)
Calcium-rich fish include sardines, salmon, anchovy, and shrimp.
Phosphorus plays a vital role in bone formation, so it’s an essential mineral for your parrot’s body. Fish contains phosphorus in abundance, which helps to:
- Utilize proteins for growing, maintaining, and repairing cells and tissues.
- Make ATP, a molecule used in the body to store energy
- Improve kidney function
- Regulate muscle contractions
- Keep the heartbeat steady
- Keep nerve signals strong
Fish that are high in phosphorus include carp, sardines, clams, and pollock.
Parrots don’t fare well in dark, secluded environments. This is partly because of how it limits the amount of vitamin D they absorb from the sun.
However, if your parrot needs an extra boost during gloomy winter months, feed it some fish. Experts agree that fish and fish products are among the best sources of vitamin D.
The main role of vitamin D is to keep the bones healthy, which it accomplishes by promoting calcium absorption. Even if your parrot ingests calcium and phosphorus, an absence of vitamin D will still lead to brittle and weak bones.
While it’s making your parrot’s beak, talons, and feathers stronger, vitamin D will also:
- Reduce inflammation
- Promote the growth of cells
- Strengthen the immune system
The best sources of vitamin d in fish are oily fish, such as mackerel, herring, tuna, and salmon.
Do Parrots Like Fish?
Parrots love the taste of fish. This type of meat is lean, flavorful, and easy to tear through. However, your parrot may be hesitant to try new foods. If that’s the case, you can do the following:
- Offer fresh fish. Your parrot might dislike the packed flavor.
- Avoid using seasoning or oil. The more natural the food, the healthier it’ll be.
- Eat fish with your parrot. It may enjoy sharing a meal with you and trust the meal once it’s seen you eat it.
- Offer it by hand. It may be hesitant to taste new foods in its bowl, but trusts food out of your hand.
- Let it investigate. Set the fish on the table to let your parrot nudge, smell, and lick.
Do Parrots Eat Fish In The Wild?
In the wild, parrots rarely eat fish as they struggle to hunt for them.
Fish-eating birds have long, sharp beaks to stab fish in the water. Exceptions include the pelican, but this bird has a pouch that allows it to scoop up fish. Since parrots have hooked beaks, it’s difficult for them to get fish from the water.
Can Parrots Eat Seafood?
Parrots can eat seafood, such as:
These types of meat have the same health benefits as fish. They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. However, they also contain compounds that can make them harmful to parrots, including:
Shellfish are more likely to retain pollutants that are found in the oceans. That’s especially true for shellfish, which rely on eating decay or waste found on the sea floors.
While many types of seafood are reared on farms that limit contamination, this isn’t always the case. Wild-caught seafood is often considered fresher and tastier.
While you might like this feature, your parrot’s body may not cope as well. Parrots are more susceptible to bacteria and toxins than the average human.
In addition to man-made chemicals or waste, shellfish may pick up naturally occurring dangers. These include different forms of bacteria, parasites, and toxins.
Crabs and shrimp rely on algae as one of their main food sources. Some types of algae are toxic and remain in the meat of the shellfish.
Of course, there are strict safety standards in place to prevent a toxic shellfish from reaching your plate. However, the risk is still higher than it is with fish.
Heavy metals, such as mercury, can build up inside fish and other marine animals, making them more toxic to eat. Shellfish are more likely to retain these toxins after being cooked.
Smaller fish have higher levels of mercury, and bigger fish will contain less. The preparation of seafood will affect the amount of mercury present.
Types of fish or seafood that contain less mercury include:
Can Parrots Eat Shellfish?
Shellfish contains more toxins than other fish. However, you can feed shellfish to a parrot if you:
- Have checked where the shellfish was sourced
- Thoroughly cook the shellfish
- Don’t feed shellfish to young, elderly, or sick parrots
Can Parrots Eat Tuna Fish?
Tuna contains protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins, which are healthy for parrots. Unfortunately, tuna also contains high amounts of salt and mercury. Tuna contains more mercury than any other seafood.
Light and skipjack tuna have the lowest mercury concentration, whereas bigeye and albacore tuna have the highest concentration. Like in humans, mercury can accumulate in the body tissue of parrots over time.
Tuna also contains sodium (salt), so tuna should only be fed to parrots in moderation. Opt for water-packed tuna since tuna packed in oil will be too fatty for your parrot, leading to weight gain, digestive issues, and lethargy.
Can Parrots Eat Salmon?
Salomon is one of the best fish to feed parrots.
It’s high in vitamins in minerals, easy to source, and less likely to contain mercury. Both baked and smoked salmon are good choices. Avoid adding salt or seasonings.
Can Parrots Eat Cod?
Cod has a lower chance of containing mercury.
You can grill, smoke, bake, or sear cod in a pan. Ensure that you don’t add oil or flavorings. While it may taste bland to you, plain cod is delectable to parrots.
Can Parrots Have Crab Legs?
Parrots can eat crab legs, but they are shellfish, which carries additional contamination risks. If you have crab legs that are as well-sourced, they can be a healthy treat.
Crab legs have sweet, juicy meat that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamins. Your parrot may even enjoy prying off the hard outer shell itself.
Can Parrots Eat Shrimp?
Shrimp consumption carries dangers due to pollutants.
Parrots will benefit from antioxidants and fatty acids. They can peel off the shell and gnaw on the meat underneath, which they’ll find a fun and enriching experience.
Can Parrots Eat Fish Sticks?
Parrots shouldn’t be fed fish sticks. While the meat at the core is healthy, fish sticks are usually breaded and fried. They will have a high fat content, starch, and added salts.
Can Parrots Eat Sardines?
Sardines are safe to feed to your parrot. However, they should only be offered in small quantities because sardines are oily fish that are high in calories.
How To Prepare Seafood For Your Parrot
Thoroughly cooking seafood reduces the amount of toxins present.
The best ways to prepare seafood for parrots are:
Don’t add oil, seasoning, or salt during the cooking or food preparation process of fish. So, avoid breading or frying the fish. Fish is high in sodium, so adding additional unhealthy ingredients is inadvisable.