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can parrots eat bugs?

Do Parrots Eat Insects?

Parrots are omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects in their natural habitat.

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.

Never let a parrot eat bugs found around your home.

When picking feeder insects, choose those that are low in fat and high in protein. Also, 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 your parrot can (and can’t) eat, which include:

can parrots eat crickets?

Cockroaches

Cockroaches aren’t a common meal for parrots, but they’re sometimes eaten. That’s because roaches are found worldwide in most environments, including those that parrots are native to.

If you want to feed cockroaches to your parrot, purchase feeder cockroaches from pet stores or online. These are specially raised and kept in sanitary conditions, where they will not contract the same kinds of disease as pest roaches. 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 RoachNutrition Information
Protein19.6%
Fat6.7%
Fiber2.9%
Calcium700mg/kg
Phosphorus2600mg/kg

Mealworms

Mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetle, tenebrio molitor, which is a type of darkling beetle.

Mealworms are one of the most common feeder insects, and they’re offered to fish, reptiles, and birds. Their popularity comes from the fact that they’re easy to raise and safe to feed to pets.

Unlike other feeder species, mealworms don’t contain sharp body parts that can harm parrots. They do have mandibles, but they cannot bite.

Mealworms are one of the best insects for parrots. They’re easy to find in pet stores, cheap, and safer than other feeder insects. However, only offer parrots mealworms in moderation.

Mealworms contain the following:

1 live mealwormNutrition Information
Protein20%
Fat13%
Fiber2%

Crickets

Crickets are another common feeder insect for birds, alongside reptiles, amphibians, spiders, and other pets. Like most feeder insects, crickets are safe for your parrot to eat. However, they may not be the best choice.

When feeding your parrot, live crickets can easily jump free of your parrot’s beak, even if this injures them. Likewise, they can hop out of cages, getting into the rest of your home. If you don’t know how to store live crickets, only offer frozen or dead varieties. 

Worse yet, crickets are low in protein compared to other feeder insects. Since most owners feed bugs to their parrots because of the protein content, this can be counterproductive.

Crickets contain the following nutrients:

Crickets (100g)Nutrition Information
Calories121kcal
Protein13g
Fat5.5g

Grasshoppers

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.

do parrots eat grasshoppers?

Grasshoppers contain more protein than crickets but only feed parrots grasshoppers that are dead or frozen.

They contain the following nutrients:

Grasshoppers (100g)Nutrition Information
Protein20.6g
Fat6.1g
Carbohydrates3.9g

Flies

Flies are a good food source for many animal species, like frogs and spiders. The adult flies aren’t a common feeder insect, but their larvae are. 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:

Black Soldier Fly LarvaeNutrition Information
Protein41.1%
Fiber9..4%
Fat35.5%
Energy6170kcal/kg
Calcium33g/kg
Phosphorus7.2g/kg
Magnesium3.2g/kg
Potassium7.6g/kg
Sodium0.99g/kg
Manganese203mg/kg
Zinc101mg/kg
Copper12mg/kg
Iron409mg/kg

The flies around your home aren’t the same as the flies you find in pet stores. Wild types are dirty, carry bacteria, and harbor disease. They often feed off of rot and can be found around feces and trash.

If you notice flies around your home, don’t feed them to your parrot. Likewise, don’t feed their larvae. Instead, use store-bought varieties that have been specially raised and kept in sanitary environments.

Ants

Ants can be harmful to parrots.

According to Chemocology, some ant species produce an acid that is toxic to birds. Due to their small size, ants contain a small amount of toxins, so an averagely sized parrot won’t require a vet visit if it eats an ant.

Birds are unlikely to eat ants as they taste sour. They’re not a common feeder insect, so there’s little definitive information about their nutritional composition.

According to the Advance Journal of Food Science and Technology, black ants contain iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Aside from that, they include:  

Black AntsNutrition Info
Protein39.79% to 44.64%
Fat42.07% to 49.77%

Beetles

Parrots often feed on beetles. In fact, some gardeners try to attract parrots to keep beetles out of their flowerbeds.

Your parrot can safely eat certain beetles as they contain nutrients that can improve your parrot’s health and are often high in water content, keeping your parrot hydrated.

That’s especially true of the common mealworm beetle. This is the adult form of the feeder insect, the mealworm.

This common feeder beetle contains the following nutrients:

Mealworm BeetleNutrition Information
Protein26%
Fat7%
Moisture61%

Caterpillars

Parrots can eat caterpillars as long as they’re not a poisonous species. Avoid spined, hairy, or brightly colored caterpillars. Only feed caterpillars that you are entirely sure are non-poisonous.

You can buy caterpillars as feeder insects in pet stores. However, they’re more difficult to find, making them an uncommon treat. 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:

Silkworm pupae, 100 gramsNutrition Information
Energy230 kcal
Moisture57.5 g
Protein21.5 g
Fat13 g
Carbohydrates6.7 g

Waxworms

Waxworms are the larvae of another common feeder insect, the wax moth. Waxworms are popular for reptiles, birds, and fish, making them easy to find in pet stores. Waxworms are safe to feed to your parrot.

Waxworms have the following nutrition info:

Wax WormsNutrition Information
Moisture61.73%
Fat22.19%
Protein15.50%
Fiber7.69%
Calcium283ppm
Phosphorus2161ppm

Mosquitos

Parrots can eat mosquitos, but a mosquito would contain just 0.01 calories based on their weight.

In urban areas, birds can be of assistance in keeping mosquito populations low. Mosquitoes carry diseases and can easily reproduce in stagnant sources of water. However, it’s not recommended to feed this insect to your parrot.

Even mosquito larva has been shown to carry diseases. According to Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, the Swedish mosquito larva carried a strain of the Sindbis virus.

Parrots eat insects, but you should be careful about the type you offer. As long as you ensure they’re raised as feeder insects and are sourced properly, they can add variety to a parrot’s diet.