Keeping ants out of your house in the warm-weather months can sometimes be a battle. Ants hibernate throughout the winter and when they wake up the first thing on their to-do list is to search out food for the colony, resulting in lines of ants marching directly into your home. Often these ants end up locating your parrot’s food dish and you may find yourself wondering, if an ant gets into my parrot’s food is it safe for my parrot to eat them?
Yes, parrots can eat ants but usually they’ll choose not to. While some species of birds enjoy eating ants, parrots don’t generally seem to find them to be tasty. They may eat a few to try them out, but won’t seek them out to eat them.
In this article we’ll talk about what nutritional benefits ants might have, and why parrots won’t eat them very often even though other birds do, and how to get rid of ants safely once you’ve found them in your parrot’s cage.
Let’s dig in!
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What are some of the nutritional benefits that come from eating ants?
Black ants are a good source for many key nutrients. They are rich in protein and fats,and high in essential minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Protein is important for your parrot’s muscle development and also for helping them to feel full after they’ve eaten so they don’t overeat. Iron is critical to the manufacture of hemoglobin and oxygenation of the blood. Magnesium is good for muscle function and metabolizing food. There are many reasons why it might seem like a good idea for your parrot to eat ants, but most parrots choose not to.
Why don’t parrots like to eat ants?
Parrots, and a good number of other bird species, do not like to eat ants because they secrete different chemicals from their bodies that often have a sour taste. Some ants, like wood ants, secrete formic acid as a means to deter predators, and to protect themselves from the venom secretions of other ant species that may attempt to prey on them. Ants also secrete different chemicals as a means to communicate with each other that can also be distasteful to birds.
What should you do if you find ants in your parrot’s cage?
When ants come inside your home they are foraging for food. Often they will send out a couple of scouts to see if they can find anything delicious to eat. If you only see a couple of ants inside your home, rest assured at some point they’ll alert their friends and before you know it there will be lines of ants marching along your kitchen floor.
Since ants are attracted to food it’s likely that eventually you’ll find some in your parrot’s cage. They tend to be drawn to food in open dishes and they will also scrounge around in the bottom of the the cage to try to find some delicious seeds or bits of food that your parrot has dropped while it was eating. Ants also need water, so you might find them in or around your parrot’s water dish as well.
When you’re looking for a way to deter ants from coming into your home and your parrot’s cage you want to make sure that whatever method you use is safe for your parrot, should it decide to find out if ants are something it wants to eat. There are many ways that you can keep ants away that will not be harmful to your parrot if they’re accidentally ingested.
Sometimes the best way to deal with an ant problem is to catch it before it happens. If you see a couple of ants roaming around on your own make sure you address them before they can let their colony know there is food in the area. Make sure not to squash them. Their bodies can still emit pheromones that their colony will be able to trace. You could pick them up in a tissue and put them outside, or wash them down the sink.
Once you’ve removed the scouts from your home you should try to find out where the ants may have entered. Fill in any gaps or cracks around windows and doors with caulk to ensure they can’t get back in. After filling all the gaps and cracks be sure to wipe down any surface the ants might have walked across. When ants are foraging they leave scent trails behind so that they can find their way to and from the food sources. You’ll want to make sure you’ve cleared them all away so the colony can’t send out more ants to scout your home. You can clean surfaces with warm, soapy water, or whatever you typically clean your home with.
If you did not notice the ants until they started entering your home in larger numbers bait traps are a good solution for clearing them out. Bait traps are plastic containers that hold a sweet tasting liquid that is laced with Borax. The ants climb into the bait, collect it, and take it back to their home. The colony eats the bait and the Borax poisons them.
While Borax is extremely poisonous to ants it is non-toxic to humans and animals in small quantities. So if your parrot eats an ant that is coated in liquid from a bait trap they will be okay. However, if they were to eat a large amount of the bait it could be determental to their health. The bait is very sweet, and a parrot might find they like it if they have the opportunity to try it, so make sure that if you use bait traps that you put them in a place where your parrot can’t get to them.
Soap and water
If bait traps make you feel uncomfortable you can also try spraying the ants with soapy water. While an ant can keep itself on the surface of plain water, adding soap breaks the surface tension and the ant will sink. The soap also allows water to enter the ant’s breathing tubes causing suffocation.
While soapy water can be very effective in killing ants in your home, it will not kill the ants in the colony. Keep in mind that if you decide to kill the ants with soapy water you will still have to make sure you clean up the ant trails, and plug any openings they may have been entering through. The colony knows there’s food in your home and they’ll send more ants out to get it.
If you’re mainly worried about keeping the ants out of your parrot’s cage there are a few things you can do to deter them. There are a number of things you could try to make the cage less accessible.
You could put the legs of the cage inside of small containers of water, be aware that this may cause the legs to rust. You could also try putting something on the legs to either trap the ants or make the legs too slippery to climb.
Double stick tape will stick to the legs of your parrot cage and also trap any ants that try to climb up it. You could try putting petroleum jelly or cooking spray on the cage legs, which may be messy if your parrot uses the legs of it’s cage to climb down to the floor. There are also some common spices that are known to repel ants, cinnamon being the most commonly used one. Simply sprinkle cinnamon around the base of the parrot’s cage and ants will stay away.
It should be noted that f you choose to concentrate your efforts on the area around your parrot’s cage that this will not deter the ants from going to other parts of your home. If the ants can’t get food from the parrot cage they will begin to look elsewhere so at some point you will have to remove them from your house as a whole.
If all else fails you can contact an exterminator. An exterminator will come out to your house and first address the immediate needs. They’ll spray around the exterior of your home, lay down bait in your flowerbeds, and try to locate the colony so they can remove it. Some exterminators will even seal up any holes they find around your house that may allow ants to come in. They’ll also come out at scheduled intervals to re-spray and put down more bait to avoid future colonization.
Exterminators do come with a cost though. There’s typically a monthly fee involved to continue receiving services from them. If you live in an area that has a lot of ants it may be worth the cost of service to keep the ants out of your home.
While ants aren’t harmful to parrots they can be a nuisance. If you have ants in your home hopefully you now have a few ideas about things you can do to keep them out of your parrot cage, and the rest of your home, in a way that is safe for both you and your parrot.