Can parrots eat mealworms? Everything you should know

Yes, parrots can eat mealworms. Mealworms are a nutritious and protein-rich treat that can be offered to parrots in moderation. These small, wriggly insects are a natural source of essential nutrients and can be a valuable addition to a parrot’s diet.

However, there are important considerations to keep in mind when feeding mealworms to your parrot. We will discuss that in detail in the article.

What are mealworms?

Mealworms are the larvae of darkling beetles belonging to the Tenebrio genus. These small, worm-like creatures are commonly used as live food for various animals, including birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Mealworms are widely available and are often used as a nutritious and protein-rich treat for pets. 

In appearance, mealworms are cylindrical, with a segmented body that ranges in colour from light brown to dark brown. They have a hard exoskeleton and move by crawling or wriggling, which is why they are often referred to as “worms.” 

Mealworms go through several stages of development: egg, larva (mealworm), pupa, and adult beetle. The larvae stage, the mealworm, is the most commonly used form for feeding pets due to its high nutritional value. 

As a food source, mealworms are rich in protein, making them an excellent supplement to the diets of animals that require extra protein intake.

They are often used as a natural and healthier alternative to processed pet treats. However, it’s important to ensure that mealworms intended for pet consumption are sourced from reputable suppliers to guarantee their quality and safety.

The nutritional benefits of mealworms to your parrots

Mealworms offer several nutritional benefits to parrots, making them a valuable addition to their diet when fed in moderation. Here’s an in-depth look at the nutritional benefits of mealworms for parrots: 

  1. High-Quality Protein

Mealworms are an excellent source of high-quality protein. Protein is crucial for parrots as it supports muscle development, immune system function, and overall growth. Parrots require a good protein intake, especially during periods of growth, moulting, and egg-laying. 

  1. Essential Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and mealworms provide a well-balanced profile of essential amino acids that parrots need for various bodily functions. These amino acids contribute to the synthesis of enzymes, hormones, and other essential molecules. 

  1. Healthy Fats

Mealworms contain beneficial fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats play a role in maintaining healthy skin, promoting feather quality, and supporting the cardiovascular system. 

  1. Vitamins and Minerals

Mealworms are rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential for parrot health. They contain B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12), which are important for energy metabolism, nerve function, and overall well-being.

Mealworms also provide minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium, which contribute to bone health, muscle function, and other physiological processes. 

  1. Chitin and Fiber

Mealworms’ exoskeleton contains chitin, a fibrous substance that can act as a mild source of dietary fibre. While parrots don’t require much fibre, a small amount from mealworms can contribute to healthy digestion and gut function. 

  1. Antioxidants

Mealworms contain antioxidants, including vitamin E and selenium, which help protect cells from oxidative damage and support the immune system. 

  1. Lutein and Zeaxanthin

These carotenoid pigments found in mealworms contribute to eye health and may play a role in maintaining good vision for parrots. 

  1. Enrichment and Foraging

Incorporating mealworms into a parrot’s diet can offer mental stimulation and enrichment. Foraging for mealworms can engage a parrot’s natural instincts and provide a rewarding and enjoyable activity. 

It’s important to note that while mealworms offer these nutritional benefits, they should be fed as a treat and not as a primary food source. Moderation is key, as mealworms are calorie-dense, and an excessive intake could lead to imbalanced nutrition. 

Always consult with avian veterinarians or experienced bird experts before introducing mealworms or any new food items to your parrot’s diet. The next section will provide an in-depth overview of the important considerations to take while feeding mealworms to your parrot.

Important considerations while feeding mealworms to your parrots

Feeding mealworms to your parrots can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to take certain considerations into account to ensure your parrot’s health and well-being. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

  1. Quality and Source

You know how we’re picky about the food we eat? Well, parrots are no different! When it comes to mealworms, go for the good stuff. Make sure you’re getting mealworms from a trusted supplier that raises them specially for our feathered pals. You want insects that are clean and safe, without any surprises. 

  1. Moderation is Key

While mealworms are packed with nutrients, they’re also high in calories and protein. So, just like how we enjoy a treat without going overboard, offer mealworms in moderation to your parrots. 

  1. Allergies and Sensitivities

We all have that friend who’s allergic to something, right? Well, parrots can be sensitive too. As you introduce mealworms, keep an eye out for any changes. If your parrot starts acting funny or their tummy seems upset, it might be time to reevaluate. 

  1. Size Matters

Larger parrots can handle bigger mealworms, while the little ones need smaller mealworms to avoid choking. 

  1. Age and Health Status

Just like how our dietary needs change over time, parrots’ needs vary too. Youngsters might need more energy, and older parrots might have specific health needs. So, when offering mealworms, consider your parrot’s age and any health issues they might have. 

  1. Variety and Balance

Mealworms are awesome, but they shouldn’t be the only thing on the menu. Mix it up with fresh fruits, veggies, and those high-quality pellets your parrot loves.

  1. Watch for Behavioral Changes

Just like we’d notice if someone’s feeling under the weather, keep an eye on your parrot. If they start acting differently after eating mealworms, it’s best to pay attention and maybe give the vet a call. 

  1. Foraging and Enrichment

You can make mealworms part of a foraging adventure, giving your parrot some mental exercise while they enjoy their treat. 

How to feed mealworms to your parrots

Feeding mealworms to your parrots can be an exciting experience if you follow these steps: 

Step 1: Choose High-Quality Mealworms

Opt for mealworms from a reputable supplier that provides insects specifically intended for bird consumption. Ensure they are clean and free from any chemicals. 

Step 2: Start with Small Quantities

Begin by offering a small number of mealworms to your parrots, especially if they’re trying them for the first time. This allows them to get used to the taste and texture. 

Step 3: Live or Dried? 

Decide whether you’ll offer live or dried mealworms. Live mealworms can provide entertainment and natural foraging behaviour, while dried mealworms are convenient and have a longer shelf life. 

Step 4: Offer a Suitable Dish

Place the mealworms in a shallow dish or a foraging toy. Parrots enjoy exploring and picking at their food, so this setup encourages their natural behaviour. 

Step 5: Observe and Interact

Watch your parrots as they discover the mealworms. Some may be hesitant at first, while others might dive right in. You can even hold a mealworm in your fingers and offer it to your parrot if they’re comfortable with your hand. 

Step 6: Gradually Increase Amounts

If your parrots enjoy the mealworms, you can gradually increase the quantity over time. Keep in mind that mealworms should still be offered as a treat, not a main meal. 

Step 7: Incorporate into Foraging Activities

Make mealworms part of your parrot’s foraging routine. Hide them in foraging toys or create puzzles that encourage your parrots to work for their treats. 

Step 8: Mix with Other Foods

For added excitement, mix mealworms with your parrot’s regular food. This creates a diverse and interesting meal experience. 

Step 9: Hygiene and Cleanliness

Ensure that the feeding dish or foraging toy is clean before offering mealworms. Clean any uneaten mealworms after the feeding session to prevent spoilage or attracting pests.


Step 10: Be Mindful of Allergies and Reactions

Keep an eye out for any adverse reactions, such as changes in behaviour, droppings, or digestive discomfort. If you notice anything unusual, consult an avian veterinarian.

Are there health complications to feeding mealworms to your parrots?

Feeding mealworms to your parrots can be beneficial, but like any new addition to their diet, there are potential health considerations to keep in mind. Here are some important ones to be aware of:

  1. Allergic Reactions

Just like some people have allergies, parrots can also have sensitivities to certain foods. When introducing mealworms, watch for any signs of allergic reactions, such as changes in behaviour, breathing difficulties, or skin irritations.

  1. Digestive Upset

While mealworms can provide valuable nutrients, offering them in excess or too frequently can lead to digestive upset. Parrots may experience loose stools or stomach discomfort if they consume too many mealworms. 

  1. Imbalanced Diet

Relying heavily on mealworms as a primary food source can lead to an imbalanced diet. Parrots require a diverse range of nutrients from various sources, so mealworms should be treated as a supplement rather than a main meal. 

  1. Overweight Concerns

Mealworms are calorie-dense and can contribute to weight gain if offered excessively. This is especially important for parrots that are already prone to obesity. 

  1. Bacterial Contamination

Like any live food, mealworms can carry bacteria or parasites if not sourced from a reputable supplier or if not properly handled. It’s essential to ensure that the mealworms you offer are clean and safe. 

  1. Choking Hazard

Depending on your parrot’s size, larger mealworms might pose a choking hazard. Always choose appropriately sized mealworms to avoid any accidents. 

  1. Individual Variability

Each parrot is unique, and what suits one bird might not suit another. Some parrots might take to mealworms with enthusiasm, while others might not show interest or may even reject them.

Can parrots eat mealworms?: Conclusion

While mealworms give valuable protein and nutrients, you need to keep the potential health concerns such as allergies, digestive issues, and the risk of an imbalanced diet in mind.

By striking a balance, offering mealworms in moderation, and seeking guidance from avian experts when needed, you can provide your parrots with a wholesome and enjoyable culinary exp[erience that contributes to their overall well-being. 

Frequently asked questions

Can I breed mealworms at home for my parrots? 

Yes you can breed mealworms at home, but it requires proper knowledge and care. It involves creating a suitable environment, providing food, and managing the life cycle. Consult specialized resources or experts before attempting to breed mealworms. 

Can parrots of all ages eat mealworms? 

Yes, mealworms can be fed to parrots of various ages, but the quantity and frequency may vary. Consult your bird doctor, especially if you have young or senior parrots, to determine the appropriate amount for different life stages. 

How should I store mealworms to keep them fresh? 

Yes, you can store dried mealworms in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. For live mealworms, you can keep them in the refrigerator (around 50-55°F or 10-13°C) to slow down their development and prolong their lifespan. 

Can mealworms be part of a parrot’s foraging toys? 

Absolutely! Incorporating mealworms into foraging toys can add an exciting element to your parrot’s enrichment. You can hide mealworms inside toys or puzzle feeders to encourage natural foraging behaviours. 

Do mealworms have any impact on parrot plumage colouration?


While mealworms contain nutrients that can contribute to overall feather health, they are not likely to significantly alter a parrot’s natural plumage colour. The vibrancy of a parrot’s feathers is primarily determined by genetics and overall health.

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