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Can Parrots Eat Peanut Butter? Vet-Reviewed Feeding Facts

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

peanut butter on wooden table

Vet approved

Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Wild parrots, as omnivorous animals, eat an assortment of food types, including vegetation, fruit, insects, seeds, and nuts. So, given that parrots eat nuts in the wild, is it okay for domestic parrots to eat peanut butter? The answer is yes, but only in small amounts and not too often.

Parrot is the general name used for over 400 different species of bird. Some have very specific dietary requirements and so it is best to research the exact type of bird you have if possible. Here we will talk broadly about parrots in general but discuss diet with your avian veterinarian if you have any questions.

In addition, it’s wise to be specific about the kinds of commercial peanut butter you offer to your parrot. In this guide, we’ll share all you need to know about feeding peanut butter to your parrot.

bird divider

What Types of Peanut Butter Can Parrots Eat?

While peanut butter is a tasty snack for parrots and typically won’t do them any harm if only offered occasionally, you should avoid peanut butter that is high in added sugar or contains other ingredients like chocolate.

It might be a good idea to offer crunchy peanut butter, as this has a consistency closer to what a parrot would eat in the wild. You should avoid sugar-free varieties since they may contain harmful sweeteners, like xylitol.

Though it may sound odd, organic peanut butter might not be the best choice for parrots, as explained by Donna Muscarella, Ph.D. at the Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology of Cornell University Veterinary Medical Center (see below).1

peanut butter for dog treats
Image Credit: Unsplash

Can Peanut Butter Be Toxic to Parrots?

While it’s true that peanuts sometimes contain aflatoxins (poisonous carcinogens produced by fungi that can be found within peanut shells), commercial peanut butter goes through rigorous testing to greatly reduce the risk of exposure to these toxins. This is why Dr. Muscarella suggests that, in fact, well-known commercial brands may be better for your parrot.

While organic, locally-made peanut butter may not contain added sugar, the storage conditions (storage in damp, dark, and warm conditions can cause mold growth) and peanut sources may vary. These locally-made brands often don’t receive the multitude of testing that larger brands do.

In brief, if you go for a brand that rigorously tests its products, it’s less likely that your parrot will get sick because of aflatoxins. That said, bear in mind that birds sometimes suffer from peanut allergies, though this isn’t very common.

Is Peanut Butter Healthy for Parrots?

In moderation, yes, because peanuts are high in protein. In the wild, parrots derive protein from sources like nuts and insects, so a small amount of peanut butter could provide a protein boost.

Peanut butter also contains a high amount of healthy fats. However, too much of this crunchy spread could increase their caloric intake, potentially causing your parrot to put on weight, so it’s best reserved as a treat rather than a diet staple. The same goes for other types of nuts.

Friendly Cockatiel Parrot Sitting On Owners Finger
Image Credit: Pawle,Shutterstock

Ways to Feed Peanut Butter to Parrots

One idea is to spread some on a piece of whole-grain bread, toast, or a plain cracker and let your parrot munch away. Alternatively, you can try rolling peanut butter into a ball with oats or putting some peanut butter inside a feeder toy for mental stimulation: your parrot will enjoy the challenge of extracting the gooey delight from inside the toy.

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Final Thoughts

So, while peanut butter is a much-loved treat for many parrots, it shouldn’t be offered too regularly or in large amounts because it’s high in fat. Parrots need a balanced and varied diet consisting of quality pellets and fresh vegetables and fruits with items like nuts and seeds offered in moderation.

If you have more detailed questions pertaining to your parrot’s overall health and nutritional requirements, please seek the advice of an avian vet.

Featured Image Credit: inewsfoto, Shutterstock

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