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Can Parrots Eat Shrimp? Vet Reviewed Health Concerns & Nutrition Tips

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

cooked shrimp in black background

Vet approved

Dr. Ashley Darby Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

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

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Disclaimer: This article has been reviewed for factual accuracy by a qualified veterinarian, using information available at the time of publishing. Parrot owners are urged to consult with their veterinarian when making dietary decisions for their pet. This article is designed to provide general information but it does not take into account your pet’s health status or circumstances. 

A healthy and balanced diet is vital for parrots and should ideally replicate foods they would eat in the wild. Parrots enjoy eating a wide range of foods such as nuts, seeds, insects, fruit, and flower nectar. A parrot’s diet will vary depending on their species, so check what your pet’s nutritional needs are before making dietary decisions.

Some parrots lean more towards being nectar, fruit, or are seed eaters, but most parrots are omnivorous by nature. Introducing new foods such as shrimp to your parrot’s diet is a great way to add variety.

Although most parrots can eat shrimp, it should be prepared correctly and given in small quantities to avoid putting your parrot’s health at risk.

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Is Shrimp Safe for Parrots to Eat?

Plain, cooked shrimp prepared without spices is generally safe for parrots to eat. Shrimp can be a tasty and protein-rich treat for some parrots to try, but they’re also not missing out if you choose not to feed it. The shrimp needs to be fully cooked to ensure it is safe for parrots to eat. Boiling or steaming rather than frying in oil is preferred.

Raw shrimp may contain pathogens that would be killed during the cooking process, so it is not safe for parrots. Parrots should not be eating any seasonings, sauces, or oils meant for human consumption. Although those additives make the shrimp taste better for us, it is not good for parrots to eat.

Pile of boiled peeled shrimps isolated on white
Image Credit: Anton Starikov, Shutterstock

Is Shrimp Healthy for Parrots?

Shrimp is naturally high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and contains minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. Parrots can benefit from the additional protein and minerals in their diet. However, that is only if the shrimp is fed as an occasional snack; too much will unbalance the diet and cause digestive and nutritional problems.

Although there are species differences, in general parrots should get most of their daily nutrients from species-appropriate commercial parrot food, such as a pelleted food, supplemented with some fresh fruits and vegetables. Seed mixes are too high in fat and low in nutrients for most species. The correct balance of vitamins, proteins, fats, and minerals is essential for your parrot’s health and longevity.

It is important to do plenty of research into a species-appropriate diet for your parrot. This is because each species of parrot can have significantly different dietary requirements. Some types of parrots can handle more protein in their diet than others, making shrimp a better choice for them. In some species, high protein diets are associated with gout, which is all the more reason to be cautious and check the specifics for your pet’s species.

Species that eat lots of invertebrates and are more strongly omnivorous than other parrots include corellas, Major Mitchell’s cockatoos, red-tailed amazons and red-crowned parakeets.

Best Shrimp to Feed to Parrots

The best types of shrimp to feed to parrots should be free from chemicals and pollutants. The shrimp can either be frozen or fresh depending on its accessibility and your budget. Most types of shrimp safe for human consumption will be safe for parrots.

Always double-check the packaging to ensure that the shrimp contains no additives like preservatives, seasonings, sauces, or toxic ingredients.

Preparing Shrimp for Parrots

Even though it might seem natural to feed raw shrimp to parrots, it can be risky. You won’t know what types of pathogens could be on the raw shrimp, such as dangerous bacteria. Cooking the shrimp helps to reduce the risk that raw shrimp poses to parrots.

The shrimp should be deshelled, and any hard or sharp pieces of the shrimp removed. You want to only feed the shrimp flesh to parrots, as the shrimp’s hard shell and legs can be a choking hazard.

The shrimp should be boiled until it is fully cooked in plain water on a stovetop with no additives whatsoever. If you plan to make the shrimp for you and your parrot to eat, it is recommended to prepare it separately. Your parrot should not eat any seasonings and sauces, including any salt or pepper.

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What Types of Parrots Can Eat Shrimp?

Important: Any new foods should be gradually introduced to your parrot after consulting with an avian veterinarian.

1. Macaws

Macaws are some of the largest parrots in the world, commonly exceeding 30 inches in size. These large parrots are omnivores but prefer a diet rich in fruits, vegetation, seeds, nuts, and flowers.

Most Macaws will happily snack on shrimp if it has been prepared correctly. Macaws have very large and strong beaks so they should not have much trouble breaking up the shrimp into edible pieces.

Hyacinth macaw eating with his foot
Image Credit: Reto Buehler, Shutterstock

2. Amazon Parrots

Amazon parrots are medium-sized birds native to the Americas. These parrots are primarily herbivores that eat a mixture of vegetation, fruits, and nuts in their diet. Amazon parrots can safely eat shrimp as an occasional treat alongside their main diet.

3. Lovebirds

Lovebirds are small, colorful parrots often recommended for beginners. There are a total of nine Lovebird species with an average size of 5 to 7 inches. Lovebirds eat various types of fruits, vegetation, and seeds.

According to experts at VCA Animal Hospitals, Lovebirds are vulnerable to several nutrition-related problems. This means that their diet needs to be carefully planned out to prevent any deficiencies. Although shrimp is safe for Lovebirds, it should only be fed with confirmation from an avian veterinarian.

Shrimp should not form a large part of their diet and only be offered as a rare treat.

4. Parrotlets

Parrotlets are some of the smallest New World parrot species, with a common length of 5 inches. They primarily eat seeds, legumes, nuts, veggies, and fruits in the wild. A balanced pellet mix should be offered to them in captivity, along with tasty supplements like vegetables and fruit. Shrimp can be another addition to your Parrotlet’s diet, but only if it is fed in moderation.

Image Credit: klickblick, Pixabay

5. African Parrots

African parrots, such as African Greys and Ring-necked parakeets are popular pet birds. Most species of African parrots are small to medium-sized. They mostly eat berries, fruits, nuts, and vegetation, but do seek out the occasional insect. African parrots can safely enjoy shrimp as an occasional snack.

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In Conclusion

Shrimp is safe for parrots to eat if it is prepared without additives like seasonings or sauces and thoroughly cooked. The shell and legs of the shrimp should be removed too, as it might put your parrot at risk of choking. Shrimp is a rich source of protein for parrots and offers them other essential minerals.

Featured Image Credit: leonori, Shutterstock

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