Is It Safe For Birds To Eat Dry Pasta?

Is It Safe For Birds To Eat Dry Pasta?

 February 3rd, 2014
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Q: Is it safe to feed uncooked pasta to my birds?

-Julie B., Syracuse, NY

A: It is fairly common knowledge that pasta is safe for parrots. However, most people would no sooner think to serve it to their birds uncooked than they would eat it that way themselves.

Dried pasta is has a couple of distinct advantages. It is firm and holds its shape making it ideal as a safe vessel for foraging or as a plaything. Additionally, even though it’s food, it does not collect bacteria while dry making it safe to leave in the cage for longer periods.

The concerns about dry pasta (as well as dried grains) stems from two thoughts:

1)      Broken pasta pieces are sharp and might be dangerous to swallow, and

2)      Pasta and grains expand in moisture and if a bird ate enough of it, the expansion could kill them

Let’s look at each idea separately…

I have never actually seen a bird eat dried pasta. I wonder if they don’t consider it more of a toy than a food item. My birds will chew it into oblivion and drop it to the cage bottom. But that does not mean that some birds will not eat it understanding that it is food.

Before I began writing this post I went into my pantry and popped a piece of uncooked ziti into my mouth. When I bit into it, it did not break into life threatening shards but into manageable pieces with little effort. I swallowed them without incident.

Given a birds much more powerful bite pressure, I feel pretty certain that they would have no trouble whittling dried pasta into safe pieces. I do not believe this to be an issue because I don’t think a bird would purposely swallow something too sharp any sooner than something that is too large.

(I must add that some bird have been known to do strange things such as swallow nut shell pieces or toy parts. If your bird is known to eat unsafe or inedible things, there are many precautions you need to be taking aside from avoiding dried pasta.)

With regards to the concerns with over-expansion in stomach fluids – it is a myth. This may have roots in the urban legend about the horrific, stomach exploding deaths wild birds supposedly suffered after eating the rice thrown during weddings. It never happened.

For starters, bird have been eating wild dry grains forever, a food that would not have remained in the natural diet of birds if it were dangerous to them.

It is true that grains and pasta expand in moisture, but they do so very, very slowly. When we cook pasta or grains, it is subjected to intense heat that speeds the absorption rate up enormously. A bird’s body will digest these foods long before they could expand to a degree where a bird was in danger.

I can say without any hesitation whatsoever that dried pasta is safe for birds.

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16 Comments on “Is It Safe For Birds To Eat Dry Pasta?”

Deborah  02/07/2014 6:58 am

Thanks for the information. My blue front amazon loves cooked pasta and he shredded dry pasta.

Kurt Williams  02/07/2014 11:18 am

Recipe #1 one of the diet calls for 2 cups of whole wheat pasta. It does not say whether to cook it or not. Is is meant to be mixed in dry?

Jendi  02/07/2014 12:11 pm

So glad to hear you confirm this! When I saw the title I was worried that you were going to tell us it is bad and my Eclectus loves to grind up uncooked pasta. Like you said – it doesn’t seem like he eats it.

Sonia  02/07/2014 12:13 pm

Thank you …this information is really helpful

Camber  02/07/2014 2:27 pm

Frankly I never considered this option till reading this interesting blog thanks a million. My African Congo gray, Kenya will have a new Italian toy to toil with.

Carolyn  02/07/2014 5:13 pm

My eclectuses love dried pasta where as my galah will fling it out of her cage.
I give my ekkies corkscrew pasta or rotele as it’s easy for them to hold. They don’t really
Like cooked pasta though. Another thing my birds really love is quinoa although that’s more of a
Grain than a pasta, but it’s funny to see it all over their beaks!

jo  02/07/2014 8:04 pm

i have it the same for them..the exotic bird vet wants my bird to only have pellets

roseanne  02/07/2014 8:06 pm

can you tell me why my eclectus is losing his feathers on his belly?

Anne  02/08/2014 5:46 am

my south african grey only a baby really, as I lost my second one 2 and a half yrs ago aged 30, so now Smokie has everything I eat ,toast,eggs,spag, crisps chicken doesnt go barmy on it but does eat it, has an orange a day with grapes,and theres fruit and veg in his normal diet being it dried he plays drums with it on his up tipped feeder his fav is my blinds which are very holy now lol

Tamara Chryst  02/08/2014 11:55 am

I’ve been using dried pasta to make bird toys for tiel and Meyer’s using leather strips alternate stringing with clean bamboo pieces, cornhusk, variety of macaroni sizes.My Grey loves only the spiral shapes for a reward treat. Have fun with different shapes, sizes, veg colors, you never know what will appeal to each individual bird!

Nora Caterino  02/08/2014 10:00 pm

My sun conure is picky about his pasta. I like mine rather far on the al dente side sometimes – semi-soft — for certain dishes. He tosses that and will only eat the very slightly al dente or completely soft cooked versions. Personally, I love to munch a dry spaghetti strand when dropping the rest into the boiling water but he doesn’t even think any pasta is a toy at all, only wants it as a good. I do choose whole grain pasta so it is better for both of us, since it is one of his fave foods and I eat it fairly often also. So at least we go for the healthiest version, at least I think it is better for us.

Bill  02/09/2014 9:46 pm

I have been feeding my birds, mostly macaws, dried pasta for many years now and they all except one eat all I give to them which is only 5 to 10 of the curley type that comes in colors. Some eat the white and some eat the dark and some eat anything in the bowl. Even my amazon loves the stuff as he will leave the fruits alone to eat the pasta first. Bill

A  02/13/2014 7:52 am

My small kids love to eat dry pasta and will chew on it. I use dry macaroni on some of the bird toys I make instead of cut up drinking straws.

Jamieleigh  02/15/2014 9:02 pm

Kurt William – The pasta in the Birdtricks Diet recipes is meant to be cooked.

Wendy  05/12/2014 6:15 am

I give my parrots a piece of cooked spaghetti each as a treat. They absolutely love it! Have never noticed any negative side-effects, either in their behaviour or in the droppings. Although they rarely receive anything starchy (bread, cereal, etc), they make a mad dash for their one long noodle, which they have learned to eat from one side to the other (not in the middle, like they originally did and have subsequently discovered that the technique didn’t quite work for them)