A delicacy in many countries, crickets are a popular snack for people in places outside of the western world.
Crickets are also a main food group for many household pets, such as, lizards.
This odd food is safe for humans and many other animals to eat, but is it safe for parrots to eat?
To answer this question… yes you can feed your parrot crickets, but maybe you shouldn’t. In the wild, parrots are known to eat many insects like crickets. However, they lack the proper nutritional value and can be dangerous for a few reasons.
With other options for bird food on the market, crickets rank low on the list of what vets recommend.
Let’s look into how you can prepare crickets, alternatives, and the dangers involved.
When it comes to your parrot, you want to feed them the most nutritious foods.
Crickets are available at many pet stores, so let’s dive into if you should buy them for your parrot.
We will discuss:
Nutrients in crickets
Nutrients your parrot needs to sustain a healthy diet
Dangers of feeding crickets to your parrot
How to prepare crickets to serve to your parrot
Alternative foods to feed your parrot
With so much information to discuss, let’s get started!
Is there any nutritional benefits in crickets for parrots?
The main draw to eating crickets is the high amounts of protein found in the insect.
Comparing crickets with beef, crickets contain more protein by the gram.
Beef is often known as a protein rich food that weightlifters and those looking to gain muscle bulk up on.
However, 30 grams of crickets come to a total of 20 grams of protein.
Whereas, 30 grams of beef comes to a total of 8 grams of protein.
This sounds enticing, although this is far too much protein for your parrot.
Protein is essential to any diet.
However, birds do not need an immense amount of protein.
Since their diet consists of mainly seeds, protein in other forms is important.
Lack of protein in a parrot’s diet can lead to over eating to compensate and eventually obesity.
With crickets storing a large amount of protein, they can be too much for your parrot.
An influx of protein in a bird’s diet can result in a hormone imbalance.
This will cause your parrot to become irritable and demonstrate difficult behavior because of the hormone surge.
Calcium and Phosphorus
Crickets are high in calcium.
Crickets can offer more calcium than milk. 30 grams of crickets is equal to 43 milligrams of calcium.
Parrots need quite a bit of calcium to stay healthy, so this ratio sounds great!
That is until we look into the calcium: phosphorus ratio.
Phosphorus ratio in crickets comes to a total of .08.
This isn’t an overwhelming number if a human was looking to add crickets into their diet, but for the parrot, it is far too much.
Calcium is high on the list of minerals your parrot should consume.
Crickets cover the need for calcium well.
They are high in the mineral, which means your parrot will receive their daily amount of calcium with this food.
However, the phosphorus level in crickets is about 25% higher than what a parrot should consume.
You should typically stick to a 2:1 ratio of calcium and phosphorus in your parrot’s diet.
This means twice the amount of calcium to phosphorus.
Crickets can provide a lot of calcium, but at the expense of too much phosphorus for your bird friend.
If you still would like to feed your parrot crickets, make sure to sprinkle a calcium carbonate on the crickets before consumption.
This will level out the ratio of calcium and phosphorus and make the crickets safer for your bird.
Crickets are also known for having a high amount of iron.
Comparing again with beef, crickets contain more iron. 30 grams of crickets contain 2.3 milligrams of iron vs only 1 milligram of iron in beef.
Iron is a necessary vitamin for your bird’s diet, but too much can cause health risks and diseases.
Excessive amounts of iron in your parrot’s diet can lead to Iron storage disease.
Symptoms of this disease include depression, destructive behavior, poor appetite, weight loss, and even paralysis.
This disease in rare cases can be genetic, however, it is most caused by a diet heavy with iron.
With crickets being quite high in Iron, it’s best to avoid them in prevention of your bird developing ISD.
The nutritional value of crickets can be good for your parrot at low quantities.
However, with parrot’s dietary needs not matching up perfectly with crickets, it’s best to keep them away.
Let’s look at some of the other dangers of feeding your parrot crickets.
Dangers of Feeding Parrots Crickets
Barbs on Crickets
Crickets have sharp bones on their legs that act as barbs for protection.
This can be dangerous and prove as a choking hazard to your parrot.
The barbs can hurt your parrot’s throat and digestive tract.
If you choose to serve crickets to your bird, first freeze the crickets for 10 minutes.
This helps both you and your parrot. Freezing the crickets helps soften the barbs on the legs, allowing your bird to have a more enjoyable eating experience.
Also, quick freezing will kill the cricket, but still keep it fresh enough for the parrot to want to eat.
This helps you out, so you don’t have to feed your parrot an alive insect.
Now that we’ve discussed the dangers and nutritional benefits and cons of feeding your parrot crickets, let’s talk about alternatives.
Parrots are omnivores. They eat vegetables as well as meat.
Their diet is heavy on fruits, vegetables, and seeds.
However, in the wild parrots will eat insects and small animals such as snails.
A pet parrot lives a much different life to that of a wild parrot. Knowing this, their diet must adapt to their domestication.
Let’s see what foods are rich in protein, calcium, and iron but not overwhelming in these minerals and vitamins.
Leafy greens like spinach are great alternatives to crickets.
Not only are they easier to serve, the amount of protein can be controlled easier than with crickets.
Feeding your parrot leafy greens can ensure that they receive enough protein but not so much that they have a hormone spike.
Animal protein should not become a significant part of a parrot’s diet and leafy greens can help with that.
A high level of protein found in animal meat should only be given at small amounts to growing chicks.
Calcium deficiency can be very dangerous for parrots.
To avoid this, give your parrot plenty of fruits, dark green vegetables, and even yoghurt.
If your vet tells you that your parrot is still not receiving enough calcium, don’t jump to feeding them crickets.
Instead, buy a calcium powder that you can sprinkle on top of your bird’s food for extra calcium nutrition.
Iron is not a mineral that needs to be supplemented into your pet’s diet.
They will typically consume their daily amount of iron through the bird feed they eat every day.
Since a high amount of iron can prove to be extremely dangerous, additions of iron are not necessary for a parrot.
If your vet informs you that your parrot does have a low amount of iron, legumes are a great source.
Again, be careful not to feed your parrot too much, but these grains are high in iron and can prove to be just what your parrot needs if lacking iron.
An important quality to a bird’s diet is variation.
In the wild, parrots don’t eat the same foods every day, so you should not feed your parrot the same foods either.
Make sure to switch up the options of food listed above to keep your parrot happy and healthy.
However, look deep into the nutritional value of new foods and the possible toxicity levels when feeding your parrot something new,
In the wild, birds are known to hunt small insects for consumption.
However, nutritionally crickets are not the smartest food source for your parrot.
While they can offer high amounts of calcium, protein, and iron these minerals can prove too be dangerous at large quantities.
Crickets can also be difficult to serve and digest.
Spines on the legs of crickets act as barbs to warn off predators, and can be dangerous to the bird’s digestive tract.
Alternatives to cricket, such as leafy greens, yoghurt, fruits, and seeds can be much more beneficial to the health of your flying friend.