Parrots as meat-eaters might come as a surprise to some pet owners. However, it’s important to include some meat if you want to replicate the diet of wild parrots. Pellets, seeds, and fruits are not enough to give your parrot a well-balanced diet. They need plenty of variety.
Most parrots will eat meat, but they consume less meat than fruits, berries, seeds, and insects. Meat should be eaten in moderation as it contains fat and cholesterol. Not all types of meat or animal products are good for parrots, and some preparation must be done before you can serve it. Chicken, turkey, boiled eggs, and chicken bones are the best animal products to feed parrots.
Your parrot can live a healthy lifestyle without eating meat, but consumption will be beneficial. Chicken bones promote beak health, and eggs are an inexpensive source of calcium and iron. Parrots on fruit-based diets are the ones that need to eat meat the most due to a lack of protein.
Can Parrots Eat Meat?
Parrots are omnivores, so they eat both plant and animal matter. Wild parrots will readily consume meat if it’s available.
With that said, it’s difficult for parrots to hunt. The process of chasing down and killing another animal is time-consuming, exhausting, and dangerous. As such, most parrots reserve their energy by foraging. Insects are easy to find and plentiful. That makes them a large part of a wild parrot’s diet.
Aside from this, parrots will seek out animal matter that’s easy to steal. For example, they’ll eat the eggs and baby chicks from the nests of other birds. Parrots will also take a fresh corpse that was abandoned by the predator that hunted it down when they can. This mainly includes:
To a parrot, the best parts of an animal will be its muscle and bones. These birds will love to pull apart the bones with their powerful beaks. The marrow can provide minerals, vitamins, and other essential nutrients.
Can You Feed Parrots Meat?
Now that we understand how parrots can eat meat, the question arises: should a pet parrot be given meat? Absolutely – as a supplement. That’s because parrots need two vital things in their diet:
- Protein (amino acids)
These are often lacking in the food given to pet parrots. In the wild, parrots have a varied diet consisting of:
- Bone marrow
However, the most common diets that humans provide are just seeds and pellets. These kinds of single-item diets eventually lead to health-related issues in a parrot. That’s due to their lacking nutritional content.
Formulated diets are considered one of the healthiest options. These contain various foods, which try to imitate the kind of nourishment a parrot would get out in nature.
As you’re shopping for brands, you’ll see that many feature meat. That’s because it not only gives your parrot a healthy boost of protein. It also gives the bird variety, so it doesn’t become bored with its food.
Why Won’t My Parrot Eat Meat?
Domestic parrots might have trouble eating meat. After all, most are raised in safer, cleaner, and more controlled environments. That means pet parrots don’t always have the stomach to eat meat. That’s especially true for smaller parrot species, like conures and budgies.
On the flip side, larger birds – like African grey parrots and macaws – have no problem eating meat and chewing on bones. Their more intelligent, aggressive nature can help them adapt back to their evolutionary roots.
No matter your bird species, always introduce meat more slowly. Offer it to your parrot in small quantities to see how it adjusts.
When Is Meat Bad For Parrots?
You should also consider the other foods your parrot is already eating. There are cases where meat, even as a supplement, can be harmful.
For example, what if the parrot eats a lot of seeds? Then you may want to hold off feeding it meat. It contains a lot of fat that your parrot is already getting from somewhere else.
Pellets may also contain some fats. As such, any meat included in a diet with pellets will put your parrot at risk for obesity. Obesity is a serious issue in parrots and can cause many health issues, such as:
- Fatty liver disease
How to Tell If You’re Giving Your Parrot Too Much Meat
Meat is healthy in the right amounts. But how can you tell when your parrot has been eating too much?
Meat contains a lot of fat, so a parrot that’s consuming too much will grow obese. The fastest way to check for those extra pounds is by feeling around the bird’s keel bone.
This bone runs vertically across the parrot’s chest. It’s the equivalent of a sternum in humans. On either side of the keel bone will be the breast muscles. Since parrots accumulate fat around that area, check if both breast muscles are protruding past the keel bone. If so, the bird is obese.
When parrots are unhappy, they will let you know through their behavior. Irritability is common in parrots when there’s an unpleasant change that they disapprove of. Parrots that are given meat mixed into their regular food may become angry when there’s too much.
High cholesterol leads to heart problems in parrots. By recognizing the signs of heart disease, you can exclude meat and other fat-based food just in time. Signs of high cholesterol are:
- Blue tint around the eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Resistance to exercise
Feeding Parrots Meat
If your parrot is keen to eat some low-fat meat, then some medium-rare meat will be beneficial. What kind of meat should you feed to a parrot? Let’s explore the types so that you can make the right call.
Do Parrots Eat Chicken?
Chicken is one of the best types of meat for your parrot. Here’s why:
- It’s lean poultry, so it contains low amounts of fat.
- Development of strong bones. Important, especially for older birds.
- Contains protein. This helps build muscles and create the proper enzymes to keep your parrot’s hormones in check.
Most chickens aren’t packaged with toxins or sugars. This makes it safe for your parrot to consume. Any harmful ingredients or preservatives can make your parrot sick, so always double-check the packaging. If it’s not organic or has a list of chemicals, reconsider giving it to your parrot.
When feeding your parrot chicken for the first time, offer it in small quantities. A whole new food item might upset its stomach, so don’t let it overeat. Once you’ve determined that your parrot likes chicken, you can:
- Mix it in with the rest of its food
- Give it small pieces a few times a week
Do Parrots Eat Chicken Nuggets?
Under no circumstances should you feed chicken nuggets to a parrot. They contain chemical preservatives, such as TBHQ. This is an aromatic chemical found in varnishes and perfume. Chicken nuggets also contain way too much sodium – more than your parrot will ever need – in a single serving.
Additionally, chicken nuggets are fried. You should never give a parrot fried food. Sure, humans may not face complicated health risks from a serving of chicken nuggets. However, parrots are a lot smaller than humans. That much caloric intake is extremely harmful to birds.
What if you home-cook chicken nuggets? This can be a lot healthier than those bought in a store. However, most recipes contain garlic, flour, and oil. All of these are harmful to parrots.
Do Parrots Eat Beef?
Red meat is not recommended for a parrot’s diet. It contains a lot of hormones and is high in cholesterol.
Some wild parrots do consume red meat that’s rich in fat and cholesterol. However, the chance to do so is rare. The amount eaten is never enough to pose a risk to their health.
Do Parrots Eat Beef Jerky?
Beef jerky is processed food, which is never a good thing for a parrot to eat. Most processed food contains sodium nitrite, which is used to discourage bacterial growth. Too much sodium nitrite can cause heart disease and damage blood vessels. Beef jerky also contains high levels of saturated fat.
It’s always best to remember the size of the parrot you’re feeding. All the sodium and preservatives in a single bite of beef jerky are much unhealthier for parrots than humans. Although beef jerky contains a lot of protein, there are better alternatives.
Do Parrots Eat Pork?
Pork contains too much saturated fat for it to be fed to parrots more than twice a month. Chicken is a much better alternative.
However, if your parrot likes pork over poultry, it should only get small portions of pork every few weeks. All the saturated fat in pork can lead to heart problems, so feed it in moderation.
Do Parrots Eat Lamb?
Lamb is red meat, which isn’t as good for parrots as white meat. That’s because of the high saturated fat content. In the same way that pork should be fed in moderation, you should also be careful of lamb.
Do Parrots Eat Turkey?
Turkey is a good alternative to chicken. It has the same nutritional value. It can be included in a parrot’s diet if it doesn’t like other types of poultry.
For poultry, you should boil or bake it plainly. No seasoning should be added because, unlike us, parrots can stand eating bland meat.
Do Parrots Eat Bones?
Parrots love bones. Wild parrots will often break open bones with their beaks and eat the marrow inside. Because they find it so entertaining, a simple bone can turn into:
- A fun plaything for your parrot
- A great source of calcium, like cuttlebones
Playing with bones promotes beak health, so consider putting one into your parrot’s cage if it needs a new toy. As a plus, you don’t have to worry about it purposefully eating the splinters as it just wants to eat the marrow.
Even still, be sure to remain close to supervise. The parrot may be very enthusiastic about chewing on the bone. You don’t want them to swallow the bone fragments.
You could also extract the marrow from the bone and mix it in with regular food. By doing so, the parrot will acquire all the rich nutrients, and you don’t have to worry about it choking.
Do Parrots Eat Ham?
Ham is one of the most common types of meat to have in a refrigerator. It’s already processed, cooked, and ready to be eaten. That tempts some owners to use it as a convenient, ready-made treat for their parrots.
Unfortunately, most cold cuts (also known as lunch meat) have too many preservatives to be good for parrots. Cold cuts made of turkey or chicken may be given as a snack. Just make sure they’re low in sodium and given in small amounts.
Will Eating Meat Make My Parrot Aggressive?
Many people believe that meat awakens some primal instinct deep within a parrot. It supposedly turns them into aggressive carnivores once they’ve tasted flesh.
This has to do with how humans see carnivores and herbivores. Herbivores are seen as peaceful creatures, while carnivores are perceived to be aggressive predators.
Many people are surprised to learn that parrots are omnivores. They would otherwise never place them in the same category as deadlier birds, like:
However, those birds are predators while parrots are prey. Those predator birds look to make parrots their meal and tend to be very aggressive. It’s not often that wild parrots eat meat. As such, it’s not something they naturally crave to the point of attacking someone for it.
However, you may find your parrot does become irritable when presented with meat for the first time. There are two reasons why this happens.
Wants To Eat More
Parrots will like the taste of meat. They may develop a craving for it and want more of this new, tasty treat.
If you refuse to offer it, the bird may grow angry and agitated. This isn’t because the parrot has an insatiable need for flesh. It’s just spoiled and wants more tasty food.
On the flip side, the parrot may overeat and become sick. This can make it upset and irritable as it struggles to process the food. If the meat is not properly cooked, it can also make a parrot ill. This can be rather dangerous for two reasons:
- An upset stomach may disrupt a parrot’s digestive tract, leading to other issues.
- The parrot might lose trust in you if you gave it something that hurt it.
Wild parrots learn from their parents what is safe and not safe to eat. Pet parrots, however, don’t have this instinct and trust their owners to give them good, nutritious food. If you provide bad food, the parrot might begin to attack and lunge at you.
Meat makes a great addition to your parrot’s diet. It can offer protein, vitamins, and minerals. Just be sure that your parrot wants the meat, doesn’t eat too much and doesn’t consume additives.