Parrot eating insects from the ground

Do Parrots Eat Insects? (Safe vs Unsafe)

It is not uncommon for parrots to eat insects in the wild. A wild parrot’s diet mainly consists of fruits, seeds, and nuts, however, they may occasionally venture to the ground to forage for insects and bugs.

So if your parrot sees an insect crawling in front of it, it will be naturally inclined to eat it. It is within their nature to do this. 

But is it safe? Well, it depends on which insect we’re talking about. 

Parrots do eat insects, but you need to keep a watchful eye on what they’re eating. Most household pests like cockroaches, ants, crickets, and flies are safe for parrots to eat. However, there are some insects that may cause stomach upset if eaten in large amounts.

In this article, we’ll talk about the kind of insects that are safe for parrots to eat and how some of them may even be included in their diet from time to time.

What Insects Do Parrots Eat?

Parrots can eat insects but not all of them are safe for them. Some insects may not be highly toxic, however, eating them in large quantities can cause problems. Interestingly, there are also some insects that may be rich in nutrition and can be included in their meals.

Can Parrots Eat Mealworms?

Parrots can eat mealworms without any problem. In fact, they are highly nutritious for parrots. Mealworms are rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Many people feed their parrot mealworms as a supplement to their diet. You can feed them mealworms either in live or in dried form. 

Live mealworms are approximately 20% protein while dried mealworms are 56% protein. They are a great alternative to conventional sources of protein and are perfectly safe for consumption.

Do Parrots Eat Ants?

In the wild, parrots usually come across ants when they’re eating grass. And captive parrots tend to have a taste for them as well.

It is okay if your parrot eats one or two ants, but it can be risky if they have more. Ants often contain parasites, particularly tapeworms, which can be harmful to parrots. 

Besides being unfit for eating, ants can be a menace to parrots if they infest their cages. Ants are generally attracted to bird cages by the smell of their food.

If they reach your parrot’s cage, they may bite them causing itching and irritation. Certain species of ants like fire ants tend to be aggressive and their bite can be even more severe.

Do Parrots Eat Cockroaches?

As disgusting and offputting as it may sound, yes parrots do eat cockroaches. If your parrot finds a cockroach scurrying past, it will chase it and hunt it down. Many wild birds also eat cockroaches.

And while eating a single cockroach may not harm your parrot, it is obviously something they shouldn’t consume. 

According to Better Health, cockroaches carry a range of bacteria including staphylococcus, and streptococcus. These bacteria are known to cause several dermatologic conditions and bacterial diseases in parrots.

Do Parrots Eat Mosquitos?

Parrots do eat mosquitoes but it is not safe for them. According to Audubon mosquitoes can carry parasites and viruses that can make birds sick.

Also, flying insects like mosquitoes can be quite annoying to parrots like they are to us humans. Mosquitos can bite parrots on their face and possibly infect them with these bacteria.

Do Parrots Eat Caterpillars?

Parrots will eat caterpillars when provided the opportunity. While most caterpillars are safe, there are certain types of caterpillars that are poisonous and some that even sting. 

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center states that caterpillars can be toxic to pets. Caterpillars have two kinds of hair: urticating” and stinging. 

The urticating hairs are not poisonous, but they can cause irritation on the skin. Stinging hairs on the other hand contain poison inside. If they contact the skin, it can be problematic for the parrot.

Do Parrots Eat Butterflies?

Unlike caterpillars, most butterflies are not toxic. However, butterflies can be infected by parasites and mites. If your parrot accidentally eats a butterfly, it may not be a problem, however, it is not recommended that you allow them to eat it.

Do Parrots Eat Spiders?

Spiders aren’t insects but we still included them as they are commonly found in households. Most spiders found in homes are not harmful, so if your parrot eats it, it will be okay. However, certain species of spiders do carry venom and may bite your parrot as it tries to eat them.

The black widow spider and the brown recluse spider are the most dangerous because of their venom. Besides the venomous species of spiders, there are a few that can pose a danger because of their huge size. 

Some of the notable spiders include the Goliath birdeater, the Giant huntsman spider, and other tarantulas. These large spiders are quite dangerous as they often include birds as part of their diet in the wild.

Do Parrots Eat Grasshoppers?

Grasshoppers are also not safe for parrots to eat. Grasshoppers may carry horsehair worms – a parasite that resembles horse hairs. The horsehairworm parasites also infect other insects like crickets and cockroaches.

If you see a grasshopper in your house, make sure to get it out quickly before your parrot sees it. While they are not toxic, there is no reason you should let your parrot eat them.

Do Parrots Eat Crickets?

Parrots should not be allowed to eat crickets. These insects are disease-infested and can make your parrot sick. Like grasshoppers, crickets are infected by hairworms which may lead to stomach problems if your parrot eats them.

Although crickets are available in the market as pet food, there is no guarantee that they will not have internal parasites. So it can be risky to feed these insects to your parrots.

Do Parrots Eat Beetles?

Beetles are often slow-moving insects making them easy prey for parrots. But thankfully, they are not toxic. Beetles are popular edible insects often available in the store as feed for pets. You can serve them as protein-rich snacks for your parrot.

Do Parrots Eat Flies?

Even though flies are accused of transmitting many diseases to humans, they pose little risk to animals.

Parrots can safely eat houseflies. They provide a good amount of protein, fiber, and other nutrients. They also simulate a parrot’s natural habitat by giving them the opportunity to search for and catch their food.

Do Parrots Eat Moths?

Moths are also quite commonly found flying insects in homes. They do not actively bug your parrot like mosquitoes, but if your parrot sees them, it will gulp them down. Fortunately, moths don’t carry parasites, so it will be just fine if your parrot eats them.

Should You Allow Your Parrot To Eat Bugs?

Some insects can be a great source of nutrition for parrots and including them in their diet can be a good idea. But that does not mean that you shouldn’t primarily feed insects to your parrot or have them take care of the household pests.

A few mealworms occasionally can be a healthy form of protein and a great supplement to their diet. You can also offer other insects to your parrot but make sure they are store-bought and organic.

Insects that find their way to your house or the ones that roam freely in the backyard are often carriers of many different parasites. You should not let your parrot eat anything from your backyard.

If you have a garden, make sure your parrot does not go there to forage for insects. You should provide them with insects that are actually safe for them to eat.

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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