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are parrots allowed honey?

Can Parrots Eat Honey?

Honey has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. However, just because an ingredient is safe for humans doesn’t mean that it’s safe for parrots. 

Raw honey shouldn’t be given to parrots because it contains spores that can cause botulism. Pasteurized honey is safe and does contain some healthy compounds, but there are more nutritious foods.

Nonetheless, there are other uses for honey. Honey can be used as a poultice to heal wounds and a quick pick-me-up in the form of honey water. 

Can Honey Be Given To Parrots?  

Honey that’s pasteurized is safe for your parrot to eat. However, it can be hard to determine whether or not honey is pasteurized, as not all types include this information on their labels.

Some honey contains botulism, which is fatal to birds. It also contains a lot of natural sugar.

Why Is Honey Bad For Parrots?

Most owners refuse to feed honey to parrots because of the risk of botulism. The risk of botulism varies, depending on the kind of honey you offer to a parrot.

Let’s assess the different types and what they can mean for your parrot:

can parrots have raw honey?

Raw Honey

Raw honey is taken straight from the beehive.

Beekeepers will collect the honey and pass it through a sieve to remove debris. Most of this debris comes from bits of honeycomb and sometimes bee parts. Then, the honey is placed into a bottle and sold.

Because there’s no processing involved, raw honey is considered more nutritious than pasteurized honey. After all, the heat used in processing can destroy nutrients.

Raw honey also contains debris from the beehive, which increases its nutritional value.

Wild Honey

Wild honey is a term often used interchangeably with raw honey.

In truth, wild honey is produced from the nectar bees harvest from wildflowers. Like raw honey, wild honey also contains crystals. However, these crystals are very fine and can appear cloudy.

Pasteurized Honey

Pasteurized honey has undergone pasteurization, which is a process where honey is heated to high temperatures.

Pasteurization is used in many types of food, like milk. The process removes microorganisms in the food, ensuring that it doesn’t contain any harmful toxins and bacteria. This also increases its shelf life.

Heat destroys bacteria, but it also destroys vitamins. This means that pasteurized honey contains fewer vitamins and antioxidants than raw honey.

Yucatan Honey

Yucatan honey refers to honey that Mayan beekeepers have farmed. This type is known for its high quality, which means that it can be more expensive than other kinds of honey.

Unfortunately, Yucatan honey is a type of raw honey. Very few Yucatan honey brands undergo pasteurization.

Manuka

Manuka honey hails from New Zealand and Australia by bees pollinating New Zealand tea trees, also known as Manuka. Manuka is popular in health circles because of its supposed ability to heal wounds.

All honey has been shown to have some antibacterial properties. However, Manuka has some antibacterial compounds that are unique. One such compound is called methylglyoxal, also known as MGO.

According to AIMS Microbiology, researchers determined that manuka honey has ‘medicinal properties of interest’ and can be effective when used alongside other treatments.

Likewise, the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine found that there are no microbes that are resistant to Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties.

Can Honey Be Given To Parrots?

Processed honey doesn’t have botulism spores, which means it can be safely given to your parrot.

The main problem is that it can be hard to determine whether honey is raw or processed. Not all commercially-sold honey will state whether it is raw or processed on the label. 

Botulism

The bacteria, clostridium botulinum, causes botulism. Botulism is rare, but it can be fatal. This is because botulism affects the nervous system. It has been known to cause paralysis and even respiratory failure.

Botulism can be found in environments with low oxygen, sugar, and moisture, which is why it can be found in honey. Note that botulism only affects raw honey because pasteurization kills off botulism spores.

Symptoms of foodborne botulism included:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pains
  • Diarrhea

Causes

There are three main types of botulism. They include:

  • Infant botulism
  • Soil botulism
  • Food botulism

Food botulism often comes from the following food sources:

  • Preserved vegetables with low acid
  • Canned food
  • Salted, fermented, smoked, and canned fish
  • Meat products 

Botulism can also be found in raw, unpasteurized honey.

Botulism in raw honey is quite common. According to the Journal of Veterinary Science, 2.1% of 240 honey samples contain the botulinum neurotoxin.

Treatment 

Botulism is caused by toxins, which is also called botulism poisoning. Therefore, treatment involves administering an antitoxin.

Because it’s a poison, botulism needs to be treated immediately. If you notice any botulism symptoms, it’s important to bring your parrot to a veterinarian.

is honey good for parrots?

Honey Water For Parrots

Honey water is usually given to wild birds, as well as some insects. This is a great way to encourage your parrot to stay hydrated while giving it a mild sugar boost.

Honey water for parrots is safe as long as you use pasteurized honey for it. Once you’re sure, you can:

  1. Boil a mug’s of water. It’s best to use filtered or distilled water. This will ensure that all the bacteria in the water is killed.
  2. Let the water cool slightly until it becomes warm.
  3. Add the honey. For one mug, you will need 1-2 tablespoons.
  4. Adjust the ratio if necessary. Honey can be too sweet, which is bad for your parrot. Adjust until you can taste the honey, but it isn’t strong.
  5. Transfer it into a shallow bowl. Make sure to remove the bowl at the end of the day.

Honey Safe For Parrots

Honey that’s been processed is safe for parrots. Unlike raw honey, it doesn’t contain botulism spores. However, it can be hard to determine which types of honey are safe for your parrot.

If the honey doesn’t have a pasteurized label, check for the type of honey it is. Examples include Manuka or Yucatan honey, which are usually raw. Avoid any that say wild or raw honey.

Safe Types of Honey

The honey that’s safe for your parrot is pasteurized honey. Look for the following labels:

  • Pasteurized honey
  • Regular honey

Unsafe Types Of Honey

The following types are unsafe:

  • Wild honey
  • Raw honey

Some honey may be labeled ‘organic’ or ‘pure.’ These don’t necessarily mean that the honey is pasteurized or unpasteurized—double-check for the terms above.

Parrots shouldn’t be allowed to eat honey if there’s a risk of botulism. Even when that’s eliminated, honey is still not the best treat you could offer. Instead, it’s better to provide it with fruits if it needs to sate a sweet tooth, as this more closely mimics what the parrot would feast on in the wild.