Can Parrots Eat Jalapeños? (Answered!)

Many of us love to add some spice to our food.

Not only does it add a ton of flavour to a meal, but the spice can be lots of fun.

Even though many of us love spicy foods, other people cannot handle spice at all.

If you’re someone who loves to try spicy food then you’ve most likely tried jalapeños, as people have been flavoring their food with jalapeños for some 6,000 years.

If you enjoy jalapeños there’s a good chance you want to share the fun with your parrot, but can parrots eat jalapeños?

The answer to this question is yes! Despite the fact that some of us humans may not be able to handle the heat of jalapeños, parrots do not have the receptors to register spice, and therefore won’t care about the heat. As well jalapeños are a safe and yummy food for your parrot.

Originally from Mexico and a staple in the country’s cuisine, today jalapeños can be bought in pretty much any grocery store which makes them an accessible treat for your parrot.

This article is going to look at these little firecrackers and answer why parrots aren’t affected by spice, how to serve jalapeños, the many health benefits, and a few words of caution.

Let’s get into it!


Why can parrots eat jalapeños and not be affected by the spice?

If you’ve ever fed your bird something spicy and waited to see if they would spit it out, you were probably disappointed by their lack of reaction.

The reason that parrots, and all birds, don’t react to spice is that they simply are not irritated by the chemical in peppers that is “spicy” to humans.

The chemical is called capsaicin, and parrots have no capsaicin receptors.

The receptor that humans have that detects capsaicin perceives unpleasant or harmful chemicals.

What we think as being spicy is actually pain.

Birds have an unusually high threshold for tolerating spice in hot peppers because of their lack of receptors.

In comparison, humans find it difficult to eat 10-100 ppm (a measurement of the level of capsaicin), which is equivalent to jalapeños, where birds aren’t even fazed by 20,000 ppm or more, which is like a habanero pepper.

The reason that parrots don’t have these receptors is that birds have no reason to have a pain response to foods that are spicy, especially because parrots are often able to eat things like jalapeños in the wild.

If they had the same pain receptor response that we do, they would miss out on all of the nutrients that they can get from eating peppers like jalapeños.

Parrots also have digestive systems set up to pass hot peppers through without damaging them.

As well, you may have noticed this in your own parrot, but they have very few taste buds and are considered not to have a very good sense of taste or smell.

And oddly enough, parrots’ tongues are naturally dry which helps their food go down smoothly.

This is also why they cannot feel the heat in peppers.

Because of their lack of smell, parrots aren’t affected by hot pepper vapors, which many humans find overwhelming.


How do you serve jalapeños to parrots?

The best way to serve jalapeños to parrots is by buying them fresh and whole.

Most parrots seem to love chomping away at whole jalapeños so you can serve it right to them.

Of course, as with any produce, make sure that you thoroughly clean them before you give a whole jalapeño to your parrot to get rid of any germs of pesticides.

Contaminated jalapeños have caused outbreaks of illnesses, including salmonella.

It’s important to wash all produce before you serve it to your parrot.

You’ll probably find that your parrot will love to peck the seeds out of the pepper, and save them for later, or crunch it down whole.

Peppers are perfect for skewer treats too.

Jalapeños can come in many other forms such as canned, sliced, or pickled.

For the most part these are all safe to serve to your parrot.

With canned, just rinse off the liquid the jalapeños come in because it can have a lot of salt.

Your parrot may have no interest in eating the pickled jalapeños as they may taste too sour for their liking.

Many people choose to serve the parrots jalapeños dried, and in fact often the dry food you buy for your parrot may already have hot peppers mixed in with seeds and banana chips.

If the food you have doesn’t already contain hot peppers, you can slice some up, bake them in your oven and add them in yourself.

Your parrot will probably enjoy the dried peppers but eating them fresh does provide a more enjoyable and different experience, as well as offers higher level of nutrients.

A word of warning for you as you prepare the jalapeños for your parrot, make sure you thoroughly wash your own hands after handling them!

It is even recommended that you wear gloves.

Unlike parrots, we will have severe reactions to hot peppers, and it can burn your eyes and skin if not handled correctly.


Are jalapeños seeds safe for parrots to eat?

If you’re planning on feeding your parrot a whole jalapeño, you’re probably wondering if the seeds are safe for them to eat, or if you need to clean them out. 

Jalapeño pepper seeds are safe for parrots to eat as they have evolved to have stomachs that digest the seeds.


What are the health benefits of jalapeños for parrots?

Jalapeños contain many health promoting and disease preventing properties.

They contain high levels of flavanoids, vitamin A, beta carotene, and have many of the B-complex group of vitamins as well as high levels of minerals, such as potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium.


Jalapeños contain Vitamin A

For most parrots their diets are lacking in Vitamin A, which jalapeños peppers have a healthy dose of.

Adding jalapeños in addition to their normal diet can help increase their essential vitamin A intake.


Anti-bacterial and anti-cancer

The capsaicin in jalapeños that makes them so hard for us to eat because of the spice, is actually antibacterial.

Capsaicin is the main active ingredient and is an anti-cancer agent and has anti-diabetic properties.

Capsaicin is also said to help increases blood flow and provides euphoric endorphins in the blood stream, boosting your parrot’s mood, and is probably why they like them so much!

As well it is a natural digestive aid, and an effective painkiller.

For your parrot, you have to put the jalapeño oil right on the skin (or over the feathers) where they have pain, which may be a bit awkward to do, but can help relieve aches. If they suffer from arthritis, you can always try.


Jalapeños have Vitamin C

Jalapeños actually have higher levels of vitamin C than a lemon!

Vitamin C is vital for the immune system, helps with bone growth, wound healing, and creating a healthy metabolism.

Vitamin C specifically helps to prevent parrots from engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as excessive chewing, tearing and preening.


Jalapeños can help with weight loss

If you’re noticing that your bird is looking a little on the chubby side, you may want to try giving them a few extra jalapeños.

Spicy food can help a parrot drop some extra weight.

That is because they can speed up the metabolism, help burn fat, and curb their appetite so they are eating less.


What are the risks of parrots eating jalapeños?

Since parrots are pretty adapted to eating jalapeños and other spicy peppers, there aren’t too many health risks.

Jalapeños may exacerbate indigestion, but they will not give your parrot indigestion.

Many parrot owners treat their feathery pet with fresh peppers, but only as special treats.

A diet solely of hot peppers may cause sensitivity or digestive issues.

The biggest warning is to beware of any jalapeño oil left on their beaks and feet.

Parrots are known to give you fiery kisses after eating jalapeño peppers!

 Jalapeño oil can be removed by using hot soapy water so make sure to give them a wash to avoid a burning kiss.


What type of jalapeños should I give my parrot?

Since parrots won’t care too much about the spiciness level, you may want to serve them different jalapeños based on taste.

Most have similar bright vegetable taste that your parrot is bound to enjoy.

Luckily there are dozens of different jalapeños to choose from.

Some of the most common are the Señorita which is very hot, dark green, and can turn purple or red, the Fresno which is a milder cousin of the Señorita, the Sierra Fuego which is a larger, mildly hot pepper that grows from dark green to red, and the Mucho Nacho which is mildly spicy.

You may find that your parrot has preference, as some love the seeds, while others pick them out, some won’t touch the dried red peppers, but love fresh green jalapeños.

Test out a few different kinds to see what your parrot likes best!

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