When I think of grasshoppers, it’s usually A Bug’s Life, the late 90s Disney movie, and a whole heap of accompanying nostalgia that first springs to mind.
Besides thinking about flying Disney villains though, increasingly today people are thinking about grasshoppers and other bugs as a type of food.
They may be a great source of protein to some, but do parrots eat grasshoppers?
To answer simply, no, parrots do not generally eat grasshoppers in captivity, although they can safely do so. In the wild, parrots will eat a range of different insects as they are a good source of protein, although parrots tend to only have these as a small percentage of their overall diet.
When we think about humans eating insects, it’s usually in the context of reality TV shows where B-list celebrities are made to do horrifying tasks for our entertainment.
For some creatures though, parrots included, eating insects can actually be a delicacy as well as being of nutritional benefit.
If you’re thinking about feeding grasshoppers to your parrot, read on to find out more.
Here’s what we’ll be covering in this article:
- Do parrots eat grasshoppers in the wild?
- What parts of the grasshopper are safe for parrots to eat?
- What are the nutritional benefits of grasshoppers for parrots?
- How should I serve grasshopper to my parrot?
- How often should I feed my parrot grasshoppers?
I hope this article helps you to decide whether or not you’ll be including grasshoppers in your parrot’s diet in future.
Do parrots eat grasshoppers in the wild?
Many different species of birds routinely eat grasshoppers in the wild, because they are commonly found all over the world.
Parrots are generally omnivores, meaning that they can eat vegetation, such as fruits and vegetables, and also meats and dairy products.
Parrots routinely eat a range of different insects in the wild as part of a wider varied diet that also includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds.
If grasshoppers are a feature of a wild parrot’s environment, they will consume them occasionally.
Some species of parrot are more inclined to eat meats, including insects, than others.
For example, the wild Kea, a large parrot from New Zealand, are very keen meat eaters, eating everything from insects and eggs to chicks and other carrion.
By contrast, some parrots tend to be closer to herbivores than omnivores, eating insects only very occasionally, if at all.
These birds will instead eat a diet that predominantly consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
What parts of the grasshopper are safe for parrots to eat?
All of a grasshopper’s body is safe for parrots to consume, including the body, the head, the legs and the wings.
However, these are not easy to eat and can become caught within your bird’s beak.
It’s therefore important to only serve very small pieces of grasshopper at a time to your parrot.
What are the nutritional benefits of grasshoppers for parrots?
The key benefit of insects including grasshoppers in parrot’s diet is that they contain a significant amount of protein.
Grasshoppers actually contain more protein than is found in products such as fish or milk.
As with humans, dietary protein aids parrots in the building and maintenance of their tissues, enzymes and muscles.
Although it may not seem like your parrot has a huge amount of muscles, having enough muscle tone is crucial for parrots to be able to perform a range of their natural functions.
The majority of a parrot’s muscles are found in their wing region.
Eating enough protein is therefore important to make sure that parrots maintain the strength to be able to fly.
For parrots, getting enough protein in their diet can also be particularly important during their moulting phases.
While parrots do not need to consume a huge amount of protein, not eating enough protein can cause protein deficiencies in parrots.
Having a protein deficiency can affect parrot’s abilities to lay eggs and can prevent parrots from healing effectively if they become injured, because it is the protein (and calcium) in their diets that help them with making and healing new tissues.
As well as in insects, protein is also found in seeds, dairy products such as yoghurt and in meats such as chicken, which can be fed to parrots in occasional small amounts.
So if the thought of preparing dead grasshoppers has you feeling squeamish, don’t worry – they are not a necessary part of a parrot’s diet.
There are plenty of alternative foods your parrot can eat instead to make sure they’re getting enough protein.
Grasshoppers are high in vitamin A, which is important for parrots to consume.
Also found in red and orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, mangoes or red peppers, vitamin A helps parrots to maintain their mucous membranes.
This mucous helps parrots to prevent bacteria from causing them to become diseased.
Making sure your parrot receives enough vitamin A is therefore crucial to help them stay healthy and able to fight off any potential infections.
Grasshoppers are also rich in vitamin B.
Vitamin B is essential for parrots to maintain a healthy plumage.
If your parrot is not getting enough vitamin B in their diet, you may notice that their skin and feathers will appear dull.
Their feathers and skin may even start to develop a yellow tone.
Although a parrot’s intestines do naturally produce vitamin B, it is still possible for parrots to become deficient in this vitamin if their diet does not contain enough of it.
Another good source of vitamin B for your parrot is to give them a small amount of hard-boiled egg.
Grasshoppers also contain a significant amount of vitamin C, which, like vitamin B, has an important role to play in the maintenance of healthy plumage.
If your parrot is experiencing a vitamin C deficiency, you may notice that they are beginning to pull their feathers out or chew on them.
However, these behaviours can also be a sign of boredom in parrots.
If you’d like to increase the amount of vitamin C in your bird’s diet, in addition to grasshoppers, other good sources of this vitamin include broccoli, blueberries, peppers and kiwi fruit.
How should I serve grasshopper to my parrot?
If you would like to feed your parrot grasshoppers, make sure that you have purchased grasshoppers that have not been treated with any preservatives or other chemicals.
Edible grasshoppers are not generally on sale in your average grocery store but can be purchased online at a range of different specialised websites.
However, do make sure before buying them that the grasshoppers have not had extra ingredients added to them such as spices or salt.
These additions are common in insects which have been prepared for human consumption – some are even sold covered in chocolate.
For your parrot, though, stick to the plain grasshoppers – these may be less ‘exciting’ but they’ll also probably be less expensive.
To serve the grasshopper to your parrot, cut it up into small pieces before placing it in your parrot’s dish.
For a tasty mixed meal for your parrot, provide them with a small amount of the grasshopper, as well as some seeds and chopped fruits and vegetables.
Not only will this be an exciting meal for your parrot, but it will also provide them with a good mixture of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
How often should I feed my parrot grasshoppers?
As mentioned above, parrots do eat insects, including grasshoppers if they are available, in the wild.
However, insects would typically only make up a very small part of a parrot’s diet.
For example, for parakeets, also known as ‘budgies’, insects would only make up about 5% of their diet in the wild.
When feeding your parrot grasshoppers or other insects, a reasonable amount would therefore be feeding your parrot a small piece once every few weeks as a snack or as part of a larger dish with other foods such as fruits or vegetables.
In conclusion, grasshoppers can be a helpful addition to your parrot’s diet, provided that they are only given them occasionally and in small amounts.
Grasshoppers, as with other insects, are very high in protein and therefore can be beneficial in helping your parrot grow and maintain their tissues and muscles, particularly those in their wing region.
If you’d like to buy some grasshoppers for your parrot to eat, visit a specialist website for them, and make sure that they have not been treated with any preservatives or had any additional ingredients added to them.