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is rice safe for parrots?

Can Parrots Eat Rice? (Is Brown Rice Healthier Than White?)

Last Updated on: 16th July 2023, 04:31 pm

Rice is a staple food for half the world’s population. It’s easy to understand why because rice is easy to cook, can be added to almost any dish, and can be sweet or savory.

Not all human foods are bird-safe, so you may wonder if rice is okay for parrots.

All types of rice as safe for parrots to eat, including sticky rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, and white rice. Brown rice contains more manganese, selenium, magnesium, folate (vitamin B9), fiber, and flavonoid antioxidants than white rice.

Avoid adding salt, oil, and soy sauce when feeding rice to parrots. Instead, add healthy vegetables, like carrots and bell peppers, for additional nutrients, colors, flavors, and textures.

Is Rice Good for Parrots?

Rice (Oryza sativa) is the seed of a grass plant from the family Poaceae. It’s usually cooked through boiling but can be ground into flour.

Rice is among the most life-critical forms of carbohydrates that exist. While humans consume 95% of the world’s rice supply, birds can also eat it in moderation.

According to Rochester University, the nutrients a parrot will get from 1 cup of brown rice include: 

Calcium19.5 mg
Iron0.82 mg
Magnesium83.85 mg
Phosphorus161.85 mg
Potassium83.85 mg
Zinc1.23 mg
Copper0.20 mg
Manganese83.85 mg
Selenium19.11 mcg
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)0.28 mg
Folate7.8 mcg
Vitamin B3 (niacin)2.98 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)0.05 mg
Vitamin K1.17 mcg

This cereal grain suits a parrot’s natural diet of seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Better Digestion

White rice contains less fiber than brown rice. The advantage is that white rice is easily digestible, so it’s suitable for parrots that have recently experienced digestive problems like diarrhea.

The inside of the grain is high in soluble fiber, which maintains healthy gut flora in the digestive system. It’s easier for the body to absorb nutrients, control blood sugar levels, and reduce cholesterol.

The outside of the grain is an excellent source of insoluble fiber. This part of the grain is undigestible, so it maintains its shape, moves digestible foods along, and prevents constipation.

Insoluble fiber also supports this process because it becomes a jelly, adding bulk to the stool.

Weight Control

According to Harvard University, the glycemic index (GI) is 68 for brown rice and 73 for white rice. Foods with a lower GI release glucose into the bloodstream more steadily.

Because brown rice is higher in fiber, it leads to a feeling of fullness, so some parrots are inclined to eat less food. Reduced food consumption minimizes the risk of weight gain.

Disease Protection

The bran layer of brown rice contains flavenoids like apigenin and quercetin, which are compounds that ward off degenerative diseases. All birds should have a diet that comprises whole grains.


Antioxidants are compounds that fight against oxidative stress linked to various illnesses.

Specifically, rice is rich in an antioxidant called phenolics. These are mostly found in the bran of the rice, which is only in brown rice.

If you pick a specific kind of rice for a parrot, brown or wholegrain varieties are recommended.

Types of Rice

All kinds of rice are healthy for parrots, but anything other than white rice contains more fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Let’s explore the most popular types of rice:

Sticky Rice

Sticky rice (glutinous or sweet rice) is used in Asian cuisines. Sticky rice is often used for desserts, dumplings, rice vinegar, and sake. Sticky rice is cooked like any other rice and can be fed to a parrot plain.

Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice is a long-grain rice that can cost more than some varieties. When cooked, it’s softer, fluffier, and more fragrant than the usual white rice variety.

However, jasmine rice contains about the same nutrients as white rice.

Basmati Rice

Basmati rice has similarities with jasmine rice. Basmati is a long-grain variety, although it’s shorter than jasmine. Like jasmine, basmati rice is known for its aroma and flavor while similar in nutrients.

However, basmati rice is drier and fluffier, unlike jasmine rice, which clumps when cooked. This makes it a better choice for parrots who like picking out individual grains and crunching the seeds.

White vs. Brown Rice

The difference between white and brown rice goes way beyond color.

Provide brown rice if you want the healthiest option for a parrot. Brown rice contains all parts of the grain. This differs from white rice, where the bran and germ have been removed.

Keeping the grain intact is what makes brown rice healthier. For example, according to Nutrient Research Reviews, whole grains contain more antioxidants.

Brown rice still has compounds that can harm parrots, including the following:

  • Antinutrients: These hinder a parrot’s ability to absorb nutrients.
  • Arsenic: According to Epidemiology, brown rice can contain more arsenic than white rice.

White rice cooks faster due to the absence of the bran and germ.

Can Parrots Eat Fried Rice?

Fried rice contains unhealthy ingredients that compromise the health of parrots, including:


Oil is necessary to make fried rice crispy and textured, but most oils are unhealthy. Too many calories lead to weight gain and health problems like diabetes and heart disease.


Parrots need some dietary sodium, but not too much. Excess salt has been linked to many health problems, including high blood pressure (hypertension), which increases the risk of strokes.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce isn’t bad for parrots unless they’re allergic to soy. Unfortunately, commercial soy sauce contains high amounts of sodium for added flavor.

A tablespoon of soy sauce contains 920 mg of salt. Even low-sodium sauces still contain 190 mg.

Can Parrots Eat Rice Cakes?

Rice cakes are low-fat, relatively healthy treats for parrots. They can make a crunchy, low-calorie snack for reinforcing training and can be added in small amounts to a parrot’s meal.

Some rice cakes are healthier than others, so opt for low-sodium and unsweetened rice cakes. Never feed a bird a chocolate-coated rice cake because it contains theobromine, which is highly toxic.

Plain rice – cooked or raw – is still better than rice cakes. Rice cakes contain less fiber, and the grains are broken down and contain fewer antioxidants, some of which are lost during cooking.

How To Feed Rice To Parrots

If you give a parrot rice raw, sprinkle some over its meals to add crunch and variety. Add delicious, colorful vegetables like bell peppers and carrots for carotenoids.

We often cook rice with salt and flavorings, which is bad for pet birds. Instead, keep rice as bland as possible when cooking it for a parrot. Don’t add oils, salt, or sauces.