While plenty of parrot owners swear that it’s fine to give their pet parrot a bit of cheese now and then, the truth is that isn’t the case. Parrots, like all birds, are extremely lactose-intolerant, so they shouldn’t eat cheese. They can’t break down dairy, which means you should avoid even small amounts.
But what happens if a parrot eats some cheese? What are other foods that you should avoid feeding your parrot? We cover all that before digging into a few parrot-friendly snacks here.
What Happens If a Parrot Eats Cheese?
Considering that birds are extremely lactose-intolerant, it’s a bit surprising that cheese has become such a popular treat to give parrots. The result of a parrot eating too much dairy is identical to what you’d expect if a lactose-intolerant human ate dairy.
Diarrhea and gastrointestinal discomfort are two common signs that your parrot has had too much dairy. Not only is this uncomfortable for your bird, but it’s also going to make cleaning their cage a more time-consuming task than normal.
While there is a belief that you can build your bird’s tolerance up to dairy over time, this simply isn’t true. Your parrot lacks the necessary enzymes to break down dairy, and it doesn’t matter how much you try or how slowly you give them dairy, they won’t develop the necessary enzymes.
Can Cheese Kill Birds?
While cheese can undoubtedly lead to uncomfortable situations for both you and your bird, you might be wondering if cheese can ultimately kill a parrot.
The answer to this question is yes. Cheese has been documented to prove fatal for pet birds 1. In most cases, the cheese causes an obstruction along the digestive tract, and usually results in the onset of bacterial and fungal infections. The complications from these concurrent issues can prove fatal.
The 4 Other Foods That You Need to Avoid Feeding Your Parrot
Just like you should avoid feeding dairy products to your bird, there are several other common foods that you need to keep far away. We highlighted four of them here.
Avocado may be a natural food, but your parrot can’t eat it. Every part of the avocado can be extremely toxic for your bird, so keep anything with avocado in it far away from your bird.
There are two ingredients in chocolate that make it especially bad for birds. Both theobromine and caffeine are toxic to birds at the amount found in chocolate, so you need to do everything possible to keep it away from your bird.
3. Additives and Spices
Salt, sugar, and spices such as garlic, onion, and chives are dangerous for parrots. As a general rule, food you offer your parrot should not be seasoned.
If a food or drink has caffeine in it, you need to keep it far away from your bird. While a small amount of caffeine might not affect you, your bird is much smaller. This means even small amounts of caffeine can have severe side effects. These include seizures, spasms, and even death. Keep caffeine away at all costs.
The 5 Better Snacks for Your Parrot
While you can give your parrot small amounts of cheese as the occasional treat, considering that cheese isn’t particularly good for them, why not opt for one of these healthier alternatives that will make your pet parrot just as happy?
Strawberries are among the best fruits for your parrot. In addition to being very low in sugar when compared to other fruits, they offer hydration as well. They can be chopped in small pieces (for smaller parrots) or offered whole (for larger parrots).
If you’re settling down for a movie, why not get your feathered friend popcorn too? Just ensure that your parrot’s popcorn is salt and butter-free, as both are extremely unhealthy and potentially toxic for your bird.
3. Apple Slices
Your parrot would love something sweet, and fruit is nature’s candy. Your parrot will love apple slices.
4. Unsalted Peanuts
Just like your pet bird will love peanut butter, there’s a good chance that they’ll like peanuts too. Keep in mind that many stores sell salted peanuts, and the salt can be toxic for your bird. But if you can get unsalted peanuts, they are treats that your bird should enjoy. In addition, you should not offer your parrots peanut shells.
5. Other Berries
Common berries that your parrot will happily gobble up include cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Of all the fruits you can offer your parrot, berries are by far the best possible option.
A Parrot’s Diet
Besides commercial pellets, we recommend getting fresh food for your pet parrot. No commercial pellet food will meet all your parrots’ nutritional requirements, which means you must offer your bird with other, fresh options.
A formulated diet (such as a pellet) should form the majority of your companion bird’s diet (about 75%). The rest of the diet should be smaller fractions of vegetables, nuts and other protein sources, and a small serving of fruits. True berries are preferred over other fruits.
Such a composition is appropriate for most pet birds, with the exception of some nectarivores (such as lorikeets and lories) and some species with a very exclusive diet (such as the Glossy Black Cockatoo).
Always consult with your exotic or avian veterinarian if you have any doubts about your bird’s diet.
While you shouldn’t feed your parrot dairy products, that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a litany of other snacks. Mix it up for your feathered friend, and spoil them with plenty of different options, but do your research before feeding anything to them.
The last thing you want to do is feed your parrot something that could get them sick or even worse, kill them.
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Featured Image Credit: PDPhotos, Pixabay