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Can Parrots Eat Chocolate? What You Need to Know!

Oliver Jones

Chocolate is a delicious and often irresistible treat, but it’s not safe for all animals. For instance, chocolate can be harmful to dogs because of its caffeine content. It also contains sugar which may lead to an upset stomach in some animals.

Parrots are another type of animal that cannot eat chocolate due to the chemical and sugar content. Chocolate can cause illness or death in parrots because their immune system isn’t strong enough to fight off these toxins like other animals’ systems would be able to do.

This blog will help answer any questions you have about whether your pet bird should be eating chocolate!

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What is the Parrot’s Natural Diet?

Parrot eating food_Luckyvikas2_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Luckvikas2, Shutterstock

Parrots have evolved to eat a variety of foods in the wild. A diet that includes both fruits and nuts is good for parrots, especially when nesting or raising chicks. Nutritional requirements for parrots vary by species because bigger birds need more calories and protein than smaller ones.

In general, parrots are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plant matter. Their diet often includes nuts such as acorns, seeds, fruits, and berries. They can also use their beaks to crack open the hard shells of fruits or nuts. Some Wild Parrot Menu Ideas Include:

  • Vegetables
  • Insects
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Grains
  • Eggs
  • Meat

Why Is Chocolate Toxic to Parrots?

Even though they are omnivores, there are certain things that a parrot should not eat, especially chocolate. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are chemical compounds that are toxic to parrots.

A parrot’s diet must be carefully considered because they do not have a strong immune system. In particular, their liver cannot break down these chemicals efficiently, as it would be for an animal with a different diet. Therefore, the chocolate can damage a parrot’s liver and nervous system.

Repeated exposure to chocolate or overdoses of chocolate can be fatal to parrots due to liver failure. This will lead to respiratory distress, heart arrhythmia, and seizures.

What Other Foods Are Toxic to Parrots?

Among the other foods your parrot should avoid, we find salt. Anything salty is bad for your parrot because too much salt can disrupt your pet’s electrolytes. This can lead to dehydration and possibly death.

As well, avocados are toxic because they contain persin, a fungicide that is harmful to parrots. Onions and garlic are also toxic to parrots because they have thiosulfate, damaging your bird’s red blood cells, resulting in anemia. Finally, Xylitol, fruit pits, and anything with lots of fat is also toxic to parrots.

What To Do If Your Pet Parrot Eats Chocolate?

Accidents happen. Maybe your parrot was up on your counter when you weren’t looking and took a bite of chocolate. Or, the kids might have left some candy on your coffee table. Regardless of whose fault it is, if you suspect that your parrot has eaten some chocolate, take them to the veterinarian right away to make sure they’re okay.

A tiny amount of chocolate is unlikely to cause death, but a more significant amount can harm your parrot. If you suspect that your parrot has eaten about 10 or more M&M’s (1/3 oz), call the veterinarian for advice on whether to induce vomiting or head into the clinic right away.

Even though it is possible to treat chocolate poisoning in some animals, there isn’t an antidote for parrots. Parrots that have consumed large quantities of chocolate will need to be closely monitored and cared for by an avian veterinarian.

What Are the Symptoms of a Parrot That Consumed Chocolate?

Double yellow headed amazon parrot
Image Credit: klarunddeutlichmedia, PIxabay

Sometimes, you may not see your parrot eating the chocolate, so you’ll want to observe your parrot’s behavior. Common symptoms of a parrot that has eaten chocolate include:

  • Lethargy/disinterest in normal activities
  • Breathing difficulty or irregular breathing
  • Feather plucking and pulling out feathers, especially around the face and head
  • Appetite loss/Refusal to eat for several days (vomiting)
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Seizures, muscle tremors or shakes, and loss of balance

What Can You Give Your Parrot as a Snack Instead of Chocolate?

a woman hand feeding a parrot
Image Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

Parrots can be picky eaters, and it’s essential to keep their diet varied, so it’s helpful to learn about some of the foods they get excited about. This parrot-friendly food list has some great options for healthy snacks that your bird will love! Try these instead of their traditional bird food:

  • Dark leafy greens (collard greens, mustard greens)
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries)
  • Nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds)
  • Dried fruits such as apricots or peaches
  • Frozen corn on the cob (watch out for corn that is covered in sugar!)

Related article: Can Parrots eat Watermelon? What You Need to Know!

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Conclusion

No matter how much your parrot begs for chocolate, it is not suitable for them. Always remember that fruits and vegetables are better treats than candies. Keep an eye on your bird’s diet by watching them closely while they’re eating and drinking. If you suspect that your parrot ate chocolate, call the veterinarian immediately to prevent any harm.

If you’re looking to adopt a parrot, make sure to visit our blog section to find all the information you need to be a great owner!


Featured Image Credit: GinaundJosie, Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.