Home » Can Parrots Eat Honey? [Safe vs. Unsafe Types]
are parrots allowed honey?

Can Parrots Eat Honey? [Safe vs. Unsafe Types]

(Last Updated On: November 24, 2022)

Honey is widely considered medically beneficial as it is delicious, balancing a sweet flavor with antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities. Unfortunately, while parrots love the taste of honey, most varieties are unsuitable for companion birds.

Parrots must never be fed wild or raw honey, as it contains clostridium botulinum spores, which lead to botulism. This disease causes paralysis in birds, culminating in the inability to breathe.

Parrots can eat pasteurized honey because it will have been heated before packing, and the heat kills clostridium botulinum. Unfortunately, it also kills off the goodness found in honey.

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

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 arguably the three most common.

None of this matters when choosing honey for a parrot. If you wish to introduce honey to a companion bird’s diet, consider whether the honey falls into one of these two categories.

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

Of these types of honey, only pasteurized is safe for parrots – and even then, caveats apply. Raw or wild honey must never be offered to a parrot.

Let’s review the differences between these honey sources:

Wild Honey

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

Wild honey is pulled directly from flowers or beehives that grow 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 by the 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 will contain a range of bacteria. This means that the risk of botulism is very high, and feeding this product to a parrot is potentially fatal.

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 USA, as per The Lancet, and thus 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 a small consumption but will still require medical attention and need to be weaned for several weeks.

Pasteurized Honey

If honey is sold in a squeezy plastic bottle, it is likely pasteurized (though check the label to be 100% certain.) Pasteurized honey will be much clearer and consistent in color and have a considerably longer shelf life than a raw alternative.

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

By applying this heat to honey, potentially harmful toxins – most 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 means 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, so read the label closely.
Blended HoneyBlended honey means the nectar used to create the honey was sourced from multiple flowers. This product can be raw or pasteurized, so shop carefully.
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, so it may not interest a parrot.
Manuka HoneyArguably the most celebrated honey based on its medicinal qualities, Manuka honey is imported from New Zealand and rarely pasteurized. This honey is sold and priced according to its purity.
Texas HoneyThe Lone Star State is considered the home of great honey in the USA, with many flowers growing in the area that produces honey. Texas honey is usually unfiltered and raw, so be careful.
Yukatan 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.

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 minimal doses. The process of pasteurization removes almost all the goodness, leaving just sugar and carbohydrates.

Only licensed manufacturers can undertake the pasteurization process, 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 16g of sugar, assuming more sweetening agents haven’t been added. Your parrot will gain no calcium, phosphorous, iron, vitamins, magnesium, potassium, or zinc from honey.

At least pasteurized honey won’t kill your parrot. The worst that can happen is that your parrot develops a taste for pasteurized honey and begs for more. Resist this pleading, offering sweet alternatives that provide greater nutrition.

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 will always be attracted to sweetness, so a drop or two of pasteurized honey in water may tempt your bird into drinking. To create parrot-safe honey water, follow these steps.

  1. Filter some tap water, or use bottled water, and bring it to a boil.
  2. Leave the water to cool.
  3. While the water is slightly warm but safe for a parrot to ingest, drop a teaspoon of pasteurized water within. Never use raw honey – all the usual risks still apply.
  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 should not become a daily treat for your parrot. Only resort to this approach if your parrot is stubborn about drinking. Even then, consider a light fruit infusion instead. Honeyed water can be a way to stave off dehydration as a one-off, though.

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

Manuka honey has been used in wound care for centuries thanks to its antimicrobial qualities. As per the Swiss Archive for Veterinary Medicine, many vets now use this honey when treating injured animals.

If your parrot injures itself while exercising and starts to bleed, you may be concerned about the risk of infection to the open wound. It remains inadvisable to apply Manuka honey to the affected area, even if it is wrapped in bandages.

A determined parrot will always be able to gain access to the sweet, delicious honey that is found under the wrapping. If it does so and proceeds to eat the honey, the risk of botulism arises again. This is much more concerning than the slower healing of a wound.

You could try applying pasteurized Manuka honey to manage this risk, but that is pointless. Pasteurization kills most of the qualities that aid wound care.

While feeding pasteurized honey to a parrot has benefits, raw or wild honey must be avoided at all costs. Even pasteurized honey should be approached with caution. Satisfy your parrot’s sweet tooth with fresh fruit, as this offers similar benefits and none of the risks associated with honey.