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can parrots eat meat?

Are Parrots Meat Eaters? (Red vs. White Meats)

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Most parrots are omnivores, meaning they eat plant and animal matter in the wild. While meat is rarely part of parrots’ natural diet, some eat carrion if they encounter any while foraging.

Kea parrots from Australia and Rainbow lorikeets from New Zealand regularly eat meat.

Pet parrots can eat cooked lean red and white meats, like chicken and turkey. Depending on the type and cut of meat, it can provide protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.

The over-consumption of red meat is connected to weight gain, inflammation, and heart disease. Parrots shouldn’t eat meat daily, but a small quantity once or twice a week can be beneficial.

Few Wild Parrots Eat Meat

Most parrots eat a small percentage of meat. Wild parrots usually eat fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, seeds, nuts, and insects.

Over time, parrots have adapted their eating habits to evolve with their ever-changing living environment. Parrots started eating meat occasionally, shifting them to the omnivorous category.

Since parrots aren’t hunters, they don’t search for animals to kill for meat. They may consume the flesh of dead animals (carrion) and fish they encounter while foraging.

Although wild parrots may eat carrion, captive species are more likely to eat meat.

Implications of Feeding Parrots Meat

Meat-eaters have a negative perception, while herbivores are perceived more positively. This is most likely because they’re perceived as a threat to humans. However, this isn’t the case with parrots.

A parrot that eats meat won’t suddenly experience a change of character. Unlike birds of prey like hawks, vultures, and eagles, which are apex predators, parrots are vulnerable prey animals.

If a parrot has always been gentle and loving, meat consumption won’t change its personality. If it gets sick from eating rotten meat, it won’t act the same until it’s well again.

what kind of meat do parrots eat?

Parrot Species That Eat Meat

Parrot species that sometimes eat meat include:

Kea Parrots

Kea parrots are native to New Zealand and are omnivorous birds, eating more meat than others.

According to Nature, keas’ natural diet was thought to be vegetation, and it’s only been in the last 30 years that keas have become meat eaters, but that’s not the case.

Kea parrots have attacked and eaten sheep for over a century. To this day, this continues.

African Gray Parrots

African grays mostly eat plant matter. They’re omnivores, so eating meat occasionally is okay. Usually, captive African gray parrots eat more meat than their wild counterparts.

African grays can be given some chicken, fish, and other meats.

Too much red meat has adverse consequences. According to the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, some African grays fed a lot of meat have developed Iron Storage Disease (ISD).

Quaker Parrots

The best meat for Quaker parrots is chicken, turkey, duck, and fish.

The main diet of Quakers consists of fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Supplementing an occasional meal with some lean meat benefits their growth and development.

Rainbow Lorikeets

Rainbow lorikeets are an Australian species that usually eat fruits, seeds, nectar, and pollen. However, it was recently discovered that they also like meat.

According to the Suburban Wildlife Research Group, rainbow lorikeets were considered herbivores. However, they’ve been observed eating meat from bird feeders in backyards across Australia.

This encouraged researchers to discover if this was a localized event or if lorikeets in other areas also ate meat. It was found that meat-eating lorikeets are surprisingly common.

Alexandrine Parrots

Wild Alexandrine parakeets enjoy a diet of grains, leafy greens, berries, insects, tree nuts, flowers, flower buds, and seeds. As Alexandrines are omnivorous birds, some lean meat can be added to their diet.

Types of Meat for Parrots

Although it’s okay for parrots to eat meat occasionally, certain varieties are healthier than others.

Healthy Meats

Here are the types of meat and poultry that are healthy:


Chicken is lean, meaning it doesn’t contain much fat. It’s also a good source of protein and vitamin D. The chicken should be skinless and cooked without seasonings (like salt) or oils.


Turkey has similar nutritional benefits to chicken. So, it’s a good alternative if a parrot favors the flavor and texture of turkey over chicken.


Duck has half the fat content of meats like beef and pork, so it’s leaner and a good protein source.


Fish contains healthy fats that aren’t usually found in plant-based diets. Only feed parrots fish with low amounts of mercury, like anchovies, sardines, trout, and mackerel.

Unhealthy Meats

Most scientists consider red meats bad for parrots due to their high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol content. This increases the risk of heart disease and strokes.

Red meat is a good protein source, promoting muscle and feather growth/repair. Also, it’s high in vitamin B12 and iron. These nutrients are needed for energy and red blood cell production.

Red meat is a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine).

Also, red meat contains antioxidants like zinc and selenium. Of course, parrots can get these nutrients from other food sources like fish, eggs, nuts, and poultry.


It’s okay to feed a parrot a small piece of beef occasionally. However, if you want to include meat in a parrot’s diet, you’re advised to offer poultry or fish.


Pork is on the list of unhealthy meats due to its high saturated fat content. If you feed pork to a parrot, ensure the pieces are small and offer only occasionally.


While ham is the same as pork, it’s processed, cooked, and ready to eat. Ham and other cold cuts (lunch meats) are high in saturated fats, salt, and preservatives.


Lamb falls into the red meat category, which means it’s high in saturated fat. It isn’t recommended to give lamb to parrots. If you do offer a parrot lamb, do so sparingly.

Processed Meats

Parrots shouldn’t be fed processed meats like sausage, bacon, meatballs, burgers, and chicken dippers. These foods are high in fat, seasonings, and additives.

can parrots eat pork?

Raw And Cooked Meats

While some wild birds (like Kea parrots) regularly eat raw meat, captive parrots are more vulnerable to food poisoning from harmful bacteria like Listeria, Campylobacter E. coli, and salmonella.

Raw meat can contain parasites, but cooking kills tapeworms and their eggs (larvae).

Risks of Meats

While parrots can eat some cooked meat, it introduces health risks:

  • Red meats are high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Some meats are high in calories.
  • Small and fragmented bones present a choking risk.
  • Uncooked meat contains bacterial microbes and parasites.
  • Meats like pork and beef are high in iron, which can cause Iron Storage Disease (ISD).

Parrots may refuse more nutritious, bland-tasting foods in preference to meat.

Parrots Eating Bones

Large parrots like breaking bones open to devour the nutritious bone marrow. Parrots don’t eat bones but may unwittingly swallow a sharp or jagged piece.

Some owners give bones to parrots so they can access the bone marrow. Animal bones (especially when cooked) splinter easily, so a parrot could choke if a fragment gets stuck.

Bone marrow contains nutrients that benefit the health of birds. These include:

  • Collagen – Needed for healthy skin.
  • Protein – Promotes muscle tissue and feather growth and repair.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Keeps the heart healthy and reduces the risk of strokes.
  • Vitamin A – Good for ocular and reproductive health.
  • Iron – The creation of red blood cells for carrying oxygenated blood.
  • Calcium – Keeps parrots’ bones and eggs strong.
  • Zinc – The creation and replacement of cells and a robust immune system.

Usually, parrots open bones to reach the bone marrow and leave them. Once a parrot has consumed the bone marrow, the bone should be discarded.

Amount of Meat Parrots Can Eat

While all parrots need protein, few wild birds eat carrion (animal carcasses). Most parrots get the protein their muscles, organs, and tissues need from eating insects, legumes, and sprouting seeds.

Meat is a complete protein that contains all 20 amino acids. Captive parrots can benefit from eating a small quantity of lean red or white meat 2-3 times a week.