Parrots are omnivorous animals, eating insects and occasional carrion. These are the main protein sources for parrots, which are essential for their feathers, beaks, claws, eggs, and physical development.
Usually, parrots kept in captivity have access to other animal proteins like cooked meat and fish.
Parrots can eat most feeder insects, including mealworms, fly larvae, waxworms, and caterpillars. Also, parrots can safely eat feeder roaches, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, and mosquitoes.
When picking feeder insects, choose ones low in fat and high in protein. Also, it may be better to opt for dead or frozen crickets and grasshoppers, as these are easier to contain.
What Insects Do Parrots Eat?
Parrots can eat most insects, especially those eaten by other birds.
Let’s explore the types of insects parrots can (and can’t) eat:
Parrots rarely consume cockroaches, but it sometimes happens. That’s because roaches are found worldwide in most environments, including those parrots are native to.
If you want to feed cockroaches to a parrot, purchase feeder cockroaches from pet stores or online. These are specially raised and kept in sanitary conditions, where they won’t contract prest-related diseases.
The most common species used as feeder insects include the Dubia roach. A medium-sized Dubia cockroach contains the following nutrients:
|1 Medium-sized Dubia Roach||Nutrition Information|
Mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetle (tenebrio monitor), which is a darkling beetle.
Mealworms are among the most common feeder insects for birds. Their popularity is because they’re easy to raise and safe to feed avian pets.
Unlike other feeder species, mealworms don’t contain pointy body parts that can harm parrots. Mealworms do have mandibles, but they can’t bite.
Mealworms are among the best insects for parrots. They’re easy to find in pet stores, cheap, and safer than other feeder insects. Mealworms contain the following nutrients:
|1 live mealworm||Nutrition Information|
Crickets are another common feeder insect for birds that are safe for parrots.
When feeding a parrot, live crickets can hop out of cages and enter other parts of the home. If you don’t know how to store live crickets, offer frozen or dead crickets.
Crickets are low in protein compared to other feeder insects. Since most owners feed bugs to their parrots due to their protein content, this can be counterproductive.
Crickets contain the following nutrients:
|Crickets (100g)||Nutrition Information|
Grasshoppers aren’t as common as other feeder insects and can be difficult to find. Nonetheless, they’re safe to feed parrots, and wild birds often feed on them in their natural habitats.
Grasshoppers contain more protein than crickets but only feed parrots dead or frozen grasshoppers. They contain the following essential nutrients:
|Grasshoppers (100g)||Nutrition Information|
Flies are a good food source for many animal species, like frogs and spiders. Adult flies are uncommon feeder insects, but their larvae are used. Known as maggots, they’re easy to find in most pet stores.
A popular type is the black soldier fly larvae (BSFL). Flies contain the following nutrients:
|Black Soldier Fly Larvae||Nutrition Information|
The flies around the home aren’t the same as those sold in pet stores. Wild types carry bacteria and harbor disease because they often feed off decaying food and animal feces.
If you notice flies around your home, don’t feed them to parrots. Also, don’t feed parrots their larvae. Instead, use store-bought varieties raised and kept in sanitary environments.
Ants can be harmful to parrots. According to Chemocology, some ant species produce an acid toxic to birds. Due to their small size, an average-sized parrot won’t require a vet visit if it eats an ant.
Birds are unlikely to like eating ants as they taste sour. Black ants contain iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Aside from that, they include these nutrients:
|Black Ants||Nutrition Info|
|Protein||39.79% to 44.64%|
|Fat||42.07% to 49.77%|
Some gardeners attract parrots to keep beetles out of their flowerbeds.
A parrot can safely eat certain beetles because they contain nutrients that can improve their health and are often higher in water content, keeping the parrot hydrated.
That’s especially true of the common mealworm beetle, which is the adult form of the feeder insect, the mealworm. This common feeder beetle contains the following nutrients:
|Mealworm Beetle||Nutrition Information|
Parrots can eat caterpillars as long as they’re not a poisonous species. Avoid caterpillars that are spined, hairy, or brightly colored. Only feed caterpillars you’re certain are non-poisonous.
You can buy caterpillars as feeder insects at pet stores. However, they’re more difficult to find, making them uncommon. Caterpillars are high in fat, so they should be consumed in moderation.
The most common caterpillar for a parrot’s diet is the silkworm pupae. This is the caterpillar of the silkworm moth. In their adult form, they contain the following essential nutrients:
|Silkworm pupae, 100 grams||Nutrition Information|
Waxworms are the larvae of another common feeder insect, the wax moth.
Waxworms are fed to reptiles, birds, and fish, making them easy to find in pet stores. Waxworms are safe to feed parrots, offering the following nutrition:
|Wax Worms||Nutrition Information|
Parrots can eat mosquitos, but a mosquito contains just 0.01 calories based on weight.
In urban areas, birds can reduce mosquito populations. However, mosquitoes can reproduce in stagnant water sources and have disease-carrying pathogens.
Even mosquito larvae carry diseases. According to Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, the Swedish mosquito larvae carries a strain of the Sindbis virus.
Parrots eat insects but be careful about the bugs you offer. As long as you ensure they’re raised as feeder insects and are sourced properly, bugs can add vitamins and minerals to a parrot’s diet.