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are parrots allowed honey?

Can Parrots Eat Honey? (Safe vs. Unsafe Types)

(Last Updated On: May 15, 2023)

Honey is considered medically beneficial due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities. Unfortunately, while parrots love the taste of honey, most varieties are unsuitable for pet birds.

Parrots must never be fed wild or raw honey because they contain clostridium botulinum spores, leading to botulism. This disease causes paralysis in birds, culminating in the inability to breathe.

Parrots can eat pasteurized honey because it’ll have been heated before packing, which kills the clostridium botulinum. Unfortunately, it also kills off some of honey’s goodness.

Honey and parrots aren’t a safe combination. At best, a parrot will consume empty calories; at worst, its life could be in danger. There are safer ways to satisfy a parrot’s sweet tooth than honey.

Can I Give My Parrot Honey?

Browse the honey section of your local grocery store, and you’ll find countless varieties. Acacia, Manuka, and Buckwheat are among the most common.

None of this matters when choosing honey for a parrot. Before introducing honey to a pet bird’s diet, consider whether it falls into one of these categories.

  • Raw honey (wild honey.)
  • Pasteurized honey (regular honey.)

Of these types of honey, only pasteurized is safe for parrots (with caveats). Raw or wild honey must never be fed to a parrot. Let’s review the main differences between these types of honey:

Wild Honey

As the name suggests, wild honey is extracted from nature and left untreated.

Wild honey is extracted directly from flowers or beehives in the countryside. Many people enjoy wild honey for its health benefits, especially those who reject conventional medicine.

Wild honey will also be marketed as such, designed to appeal to human sensibilities. This makes it easy to identify when shopping. It’ll be sold per jar, while the contents will be multicolored and likely crystallized.

Unfortunately, a parrot’s body and immune system differ drastically from a human’s.

Wild honey contains various bacteria, which means the risk of botulism is high.

can parrots have raw honey?

What is Botulism?

Botulism is a paralytic bacterial disease caused by ingesting Clostridium botulinum spores.

These spores are found in wildflowers, including those native to the U.S., as per The Lancet, and they can make their way into raw honey.

A parrot infected with botulism will lose control of its wings, legs, and neck. Eventually, the paralysis will spread. The muscles required to regulate the respiratory system will cease functioning, and it won’t be able to breathe.

There’s no cure for botulism, so a parrot usually dies if it consumes many spores. Parrots can survive eating a small quantity but will need medical attention and must be weaned for several weeks.

Pasteurized Honey

If honey is sold in a squeezy plastic bottle, it’s likely pasteurized (check the label.) Pasteurized honey is clearer and more consistent in color and has a longer shelf life than raw honey.

Pasteurization involves mildly heating foodstuffs, usually at a temperature of around 212OF. Safety is the driving force behind pasteurization.

By applying heat to honey, potentially harmful toxins – notably clostridium botulinum – are killed. Alas, many potential health benefits of honey are also sacrificed in the process.

If you’re determined to bring honey into a parrot’s diet, ensure it is pasteurized. That involves reading the label carefully – don’t be swayed by branding terms like “pure” or “organic.”

You can also choose from different types of pasteurized honey:

Acacia HoneyTaken from the acacia flower, grown in tropical and subtropical climates, acacia honey is the most common pasteurized honey in the world. It’s also sold unpasteurized.
Blended HoneyBlended honey means the nectar used to create the honey was sourced from multiple flowers. This product can be raw or pasteurized.
Buckwheat HoneyCelebrated for settling digestive complaints, buckwheat honey is taken from buckwheat flowers grown in Russia and China. This honey is less sweet than others.
Manuka HoneyManuka honey is imported from New Zealand and rarely pasteurized. This honey is sold and priced based on its level of purity.
Texas HoneyLike Manuka honey, Yukatan honey – which hails from the region of Mexico that shares its name – is considered a premium product and is this difficult to find in any form, especially pasteurized.
Yukatan HoneyLike Manuka honey, Yukatan honey is considered a premium product and is this difficult to find in any form, especially pasteurized.

Parrots are likely to be attracted to the taste of pasteurized honey. You could apply this honey to food to tempt a parrot into eating or use it as a training treat, but you must do so sparingly.

Is Honey Safe for Parrots?

Pasteurized honey is safe for parrots in small amounts. Pasteurization removes almost all the goodness, leaving just sugar and carbohydrates.

Only licensed manufacturers can undertake pasteurization, so you’ll only find pasteurized honey for sale in grocery stores. If you buy honey from a wholesaler or beekeeper, it’ll be raw and unsafe for parrots.

One teaspoon of pasteurized honey contains 16 g of sugar, assuming more sweetening agents aren’t added. A parrot will gain no calcium, phosphorous, iron, vitamins, magnesium, potassium, or zinc.

At least pasteurized honey won’t kill a parrot. The worst that can happen is the parrot develops a taste for pasteurized honey and begs for more.

is honey good for parrots?

Can Parrots Drink Honey Water?

Some parrots can be reluctant to hydrate, which is a cause for concern.

As per Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, dehydrated parrots produce less water in their droppings, making the excretion of solids difficult.

Parrots are attracted to sweetness, so 1-2 drops of pasteurized honey in water may tempt a bird into drinking. To create parrot-safe honey water, follow these simple steps:

  1. Filter some tap water, or use bottled water, and bring it to a boil.
  2. Leave the water to cool.
  3. Drop a teaspoon of pasteurized water while the water is slightly warm. Never use raw honey.
  4. Stir the honey into the water and, once absorbed, taste it. The water should offer a hint of sweetness, but the honey should not overpower the liquid.
  5. Add a second half-teaspoon if necessary, and repeat steps 3 and 4.
  6. Transfer the honey to a shallow dish and encourage your parrot to drink.

Honey water shouldn’t become a daily treat for a parrot. Only resort to this approach if the parrot is stubborn about drinking. Even then, consider a light fruit infusion instead.

Can I Use Honey to Heal a Parrot’s Wounds?

Manuka honey has been used in wound care for centuries due to its antimicrobial qualities. According to the Swiss Archive for Veterinary Medicine, some vets use Manuka honey to treat infections.

If a parrot injures itself and starts to bleed, you may be concerned about the risk of infection. Applying Manuka honey to the affected area remains inadvisable, even if wrapped in bandages.

A parrot will always be able to access the honey. If it eats it, the risk of botulism increases.

You may consider applying pasteurized Manuka honey to the injured area, but that is pointless. Pasteurization reduces its antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities.

While feeding pasteurized honey to a parrot has benefits, raw or wild honey must be avoided.

Even pasteurized honey should be approached with caution. Satisfy a parrot’s sweet tooth with fruit because it has similar benefits and none of the risks associated with honey.