Can Birds Have Crackers? Which Crackers Are Safe?

Birds can eat crackers in moderation, but like many human foods given to animals, the ingredients in the crackers can be harmful to birds if given in large quantities. There are many healthier options if you want to give birds a snack.

Crackers have become synonymous with birds, especially parrots. Yet, crackers can be harmful to them, so these snacks should be given sparingly to pets and never to wild birds. However, there are several healthy alternatives to crackers that can be given to both pets and native species.

Crackers Are Not Healthy For Birds

I’m sure you’ve seen the movies. There’s a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder screeching: “Polly want a cracker.”

But do parrots really like crackers? Well, yes, a parrot will eat a cracker, but that doesn’t mean it should.

Even if the cracker is advertised as containing less salt, crackers have a high salt content. You need to remember that a bird is much smaller than a human. Too much salt can dehydrate the animal.

Also, crackers provide no nutrition for a bird. Birds need proteins, fats, and carbohydrates packed with vitamins to be healthy.

They need these to produce the energy it takes to regulate their temperatures, fly, and stay safe. In the wild, if a bird fills up on crackers, it may not metabolize enough to keep it warm on a cold night. It could also lack the energy it needs to flee a predator.

Crackers also have preservatives and additives. It is best to find snacks for your pets and wild birds that contain as few ingredients as possible. These simple foods will help you know exactly what you are feeding your bird.

Everything in Moderation

Of course, if you’ve already given your pet bird a cracker, one probably won’t kill your bird. Moderation is key when pet birds are offered snacks. Excess crackers could lead to weight gain, excessive thirst, or a fatty liver. The following crackers are especially high in salt, sugar, and fats that are bad for your pet:

Saltines

Saltine and Ritz crackers contain a lot of — you guessed it — salt.

They are made from white flour, which has a lower fat content and fewer nutrients. Excessive amounts of these crackers could cause high blood pressure or a condition called polydipsia (extreme thirst).

Prawn Crackers

Prawn crackers have less salt than saltines but a lot of fat content. These crackers have about as many calories as a bag of chips, so they could cause obesity.

Graham Crackers

Graham crackers have a lot of high fructose corn syrup. Birds have trouble digesting fructose. If a bird consumes tons of processed sugars, it will end up with diarrhea.

Cream Crackers

Cream crackers are the best crackers to give your pet bird. These crackers are not actually made of cream. The name comes from the blending process used to make them.

Since these are made from wheat flour, they possess Vitamin B. Still, these crackers should be given in moderation. It’s much better to give your pet bird healthy snacks that will help them metabolize the nutrients they need rather than give them unhealthy snacks.

Also, crackers are really dangerous for wild birds. They will fill up on crackers but derive no benefits from this feeding. Wild birds have to maximize every meal they have to make sure they can survive.

Healthy Alternative Bird Snacks

Natural snacks are a much better choice for your pet or wild birds. They are also easy to find on hand at home.

Nuts and Seeds

Pepitas, sunflower seeds, and peanuts are great snacks. These provide the healthy fats that birds need to make energy and to keep warm in the winter. Pepitas are also high in zinc, which helps build quality eggs, boosts immune systems, and is essential to cellular production.

Fresh Fruits

Apple slices, seedless grapes, berries, and any fresh fruit or vegetable are great snacks for birds. These provide fiber and many of the essential vitamins that your bird needs. Cherries prevent gout. Oranges help birds maintain a healthy pH balance, and there are many more benefits to giving your birds fresh vegetation.

However, giving birds apple seeds and fruit pits can be dangerous because they naturally contain cyanide. So, cut fruits and remove the seeds and pits before feeding them to your birds.

Suet

Suet is unsalted, hardened fat from meats. Suet provides another source of healthy fats and proteins that birds need. You can buy suet at pet shops or department stores. You can also make your own from common ingredients like animal fat, flour, seeds, and peanut butter.

Eggshells

It seems odd that eggshells are a snack that birds can eat, but consuming calcium-rich eggshells can help a bird’s egg production. You can bake eggshells in an oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Make sure they are dry but not brown, then crumble them up. They can be mixed with birdseed or scattered on the ground.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is high in both protein and fat. It is not only healthy but also tasty for birds. If you are giving peanut butter, buy the kind that has the fewest ingredients. In addition, peanut butter can be a great meat-free alternative to suet.

There are many easy-to-find options for bird snacks that don’t involve crackers. If you are placing these items out for wild birds, maintain a clean feeder. Many of the snacks described can attract pests, bacteria, and fungus. Diseases can be spread through bird feeders. Also, many of these treats attract squirrels and other wildlife, so ensure your feeders are protected.

One cracker won’t kill a pet bird, but these snacks are not healthy. In fact, they can actually be detrimental to birds, so it is better to provide birds with healthy, energy-rich, vitamin-fueled fresh snacks rather than crackers.

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