Usually, when we think about eating bamboo, it’s pandas that spring to mind. These sweet bears are not the only creatures to enjoy bamboo, however. Many people like to place bamboo within their parrot’s enclosure for them to chew on, while some enjoy feeding bamboo to their parrots. Is it safe to feed your parrot this tall and fast-growing plant? Read on to learn more.
Although they are not typically part of parrot’s day to day diet, parrots can eat bamboo shoots and leaves safely. If your parrot has eaten some bamboo wood, which is commonly used for parrot perches, they will not come to any harm provided that the wood hasn’t been treated with any toxic chemicals.
Bamboo can be bought in several different forms including individual shoots, leaves and as raw chunks of bamboo. It’s important to consider the different ways that these could be of value to your bird. Here’s what we’ll be covering in this article:
- Can parrots eat bamboo shoots?
- What nutrients do bamboo shoots contain?
- How do you buy edible bamboo for your parrot?
- How should you prepare bamboo for your parrot to eat?
- Can parrots eat bamboo leaves?
- Can parrots eat bamboo branches?
- How often should parrots eat bamboo?
- Is bamboo toxic for parrots to eat?
- Which bamboo species are safe for parrots to eat?
Can parrots eat bamboo shoots?
Bamboo shoots are new pieces of bamboo which are harvested as they are growing out of the ground. They are safe for parrots to eat. These tasty yellow morsels, often found in stir-frys, are an enjoyable and healthy treat for your parrot to have occasionally.
What nutrients do bamboo shoots contain?
Bamboo shoots, particularly those which are served fresh, contain a range of nutrients that mean they are good for your parrot to enjoy as an occasional snack. These include:
Vitamin C is important for your parrot’s immune system, which helps them to avoid getting sick. It also has key benefits for their cardiovascular system which include reducing the levels of plaque in your parrot’s blood vessels. Vitamin C also works to promote the healing of any injuries that your parrot might experience.
Just like with humans, calcium is crucial for your parrot in order to help them to grow and maintain healthy bones, and calcium deficiency can be seriously harmful to parrots. Common ways to make sure that your parrot is getting enough calcium include feeding them plenty of leafy greens as well as dairy products such as yoghurts or cheeses.
This important nutrient helps parrots (and humans) to produce haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a protein found within red blood cells. This protein is crucial as it helps these cells to carry oxygen around the blood. However, it’s also important not to over-provide your parrot with Iron as this can cause them to experience an illness known as Iron Storage Disease.
Bamboo shoots are high in Vitamin B-6. This handy nutrient helps your parrot to maintain their perfect plumage, so that they can stay the prettiest parrot in town.
How do you buy edible bamboo for your parrot?
The easiest way to provide your parrot with edible bamboo is from canned bamboo shoots. If you’d like to buy some bamboo shoots for your parrot, they are often sold canned at grocery stores and are generally found in the same aisle as the ingredients for Asian dishes. Bamboo shoots can also be purchased fresh from some asian food stores, should you wish to prepare the shoots yourself. Bamboo is pretty quick and easy to grow, meaning that you could even grow your bamboo at home to harvest your own fresh shoots. Talk about ‘local’ produce!
How should you prepare bamboo for your parrot to eat?
To prepare bamboo shoots for your parrot, check to see which format you have purchased them in. If your bamboo shoots are canned, they will generally come pre-sliced. First, drain the water from the can, rinsing them carefully and patting them dry with some paper towel before serving them to your parrot.
If you have grown or purchased raw bamboo shoots, wash them and slice them thinly before boiling them until they are soft – this also removes the bitter taste they have when raw and makes them safe for consumption. After boiling, pat the bamboo shoots dry with some paper towels and serve them.
You can also place whole pieces of raw untreated bamboo into your parrot’s enclosure for them to chew on. When placing this inside the enclosure, there is no need to remove the leaves, as these are not only safe for parrots but can also be fun for the parrot to play with.
Can parrots eat bamboo leaves?
Parrots can safely eat bamboo leaves, although they don’t typically form part of a parrot’s regular diet. Eating green leafy vegetables is an important component of a healthy parrot’s diet, however – common recommendations for healthy leafy greens for parrots include spinach, kale and collard greens.
Can parrots eat bamboo branches?
Generally speaking, bamboo branches are not edible for parrots as they are a thick wood, often used for building. However, it is safe for your parrot to gnaw on a bamboo branch if they would like to do so.
How often should parrots eat bamboo?
Although bamboo is safe for parrots to eat, it’s not something that is typically recommended to form a key component of your parrot’s diet. If you would like to, feed bamboo shoots as an occasional snack to your parrot, or place raw untreated bamboo in your parrot’s enclosure for them to enjoy – they won’t be harmed should they choose to gnaw on this. However, bamboo is not something that it is crucial to include in your parrot’s diet if you would prefer not to do so.
Is bamboo toxic for parrots to eat?
Some types of bamboo are toxic to parrots, while others aren’t. Here’s what to bear in mind when you’re choosing some bamboo for your parrot:
Pesticides and insecticides
Make sure that any bamboo that you give to your parrot or place in their enclosure hasn’t been chemically treated or exposed to any pesticides or insecticides. Although they are designed usually to prevent insects from attacking crops, these chemicals can also be highly toxic to parrots.
Similarly to pesticides, bamboo is also occasionally treated with fungicides. These are chemicals such as sulfur which are used to kill off any fungi or fungi spores that might grow, but they can also be very toxic should your parrot consume them.
For the safest choices, opt for natural, organic edible bamboo items when you’re buying bamboo for your parrot. Make sure that any bamboo which you give to your parrot has not been chemically treated in any way.
Which bamboo species are safe for parrots to eat?
There are more than a thousand different species of bamboo in existence. Many species of bamboo are perfectly safe for your parrot. However, there are also some which are toxic and therefore need to be kept safely away from your parrot:
Giant bamboo contains cyanide, which is toxic to parrots. This cyanide is also found in bamboo shoots, which become safe to be eaten once they have been boiled.
Don’t be fooled by the name – ‘lucky bamboo’, often sold in a twisted design as a piece of home decor, is not actually a form of the bamboo plant but a separate flowering species. Lucky Bamboo is really a type of ‘asparagales’, or orchid. Lucky Bamboo is very toxic to parrots and they should not be exposed to it.
Similarly to Lucky Bamboo, Japanese Knotweed is not actually a member of the bamboo family, however it is sometimes mistaken for bamboo due to the plant’s tall stalks. It is a type of perennial plant originating from East Asia, and is toxic to parrots.
Heavenly Bamboo, also known as Sacred Bamboo or Nandina Domestica, is another plant with ‘bamboo’ in the name which is not really a type of bamboo at all. It is actually a type of flowering plant, commonly found in East Asia, which is toxic for parrots. Should your parrot eat some Heavenly Bamboo, they could become very sick.
If you think that your parrot may have eaten some Lucky Bamboo, Japanese Knotweed or Heavenly Bamboo, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. Each of these plants are toxic to parrots and could, in extreme circumstances, be fatal to them.
So there you have it – bamboo is safe for your parrot to come into contact with and consume, provided it hasn’t been treated with any chemicals, including fungicides or pesticides. Bamboo shoots are safe to give to your parrot as the occasional snack, should you wish to, and the leaves of bamboo are also safe for consumption. These bamboo shoots must be boiled before feeding them to your parrot. Many people regularly also use fresh pieces of bamboo as something for their parrot to chew on. It is not safe, however, for your parrot to have any contact with Giant Bamboo, or with Lucky Bamboo, Japanese Knotweed or Heavenly Bamboo, which are a different plant species and are toxic for parrots.