Feeding table scraps to birds is a practice that has gained lots of popularity among pet owners; however what many do not realize is that this could end up causing more harm than good in the end. Although some birds may love chocolate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they should eat it. Humans love chocolate too, but that isn’t to say that it doesn’t still cause many health problems later in life.
Chocolate is bad for birds! It is not only bad because it is high in fat and calories, it is also bad for them because it contains an ingredient known as theobromine. This compound is poisonous to dogs and cats, and yes even birds. In fact, due to their smaller size and rapid metabolism birds may be even more susceptible to chocolate’s toxic effects than other animals. A bird’s body is not equipped to digest this compound in the proper way and can cause many health problems.
Generally, the sweeter the chocolate or the more sugar it contains, the less theobromine present. (Milk chocolate contains about 1-2 mg of theobromine per gram while dark unsweetened chocolate may contain anywhere from 15-16 mg per gram). Despite this tidbit of information, no chocolate should be given to birds no matter what the type. Signs of chocolate toxicity include: hyperactivity, diarrhea, vomiting, heart arrhymthmias, disorientation, seizures, dark colored droppings and death.
Some other foods that should never be fed to birds include: salt, onions, avocados, caffeine, alcohol, some seeds such as apple seeds, and pits. All of these are toxic to birds. Other ways to ensure that your bird is not eating anything it shouldn’t be is to keep items such as chocolate out of its reach and also by only feeding your bird high quality foods that have been cleaned properly and are free of any pesticides, bugs, mold, etc. If a food item smells funny or is moldy, or anything of the like do not feed it to your bird.
Another cause of contaminated food is mycotoxin tainted food. Mycotoxins are chemicals produced by certain varieties of molds and fungi. The most commonly implicated foods that have been found to contain mycotoxins include poor quality peanuts, peanut butter, breads, meats, cheese, and grains. Making sure food is cleaned and stored properly is the number one way to ensure your bird won’t get sick or die from food illness. Any foods should be kept in a cool, dry place, preferably in an air-tight container or sealed in a zip lock bag. Soft, moist foods or foods that have been soaked in water should be discarded after a few hours in the cage to prevent them from building up bacteria and mold that can make the bird sick and even result in death.