Why Does My Parrot Eat Dirt

The act of geophagy is when an animal consumes soil.

Parrots eat clay and dirt in the Amazon rainforest, which is one of the most common places to find these types of birds.

Since the western Amazon lacks sodium rich foods, they will eat soil that contains these nutrients, it also helps them detoxify foods that may otherwise be harmful to them.

Likewise, you might see your domesticated parrot eating dirt.

It’s a natural instinct for them.

However, although natural, it can be harmful to your pet parrot.

So in this article we’re going to cover the following

  • Is it okay for birds to eat soil?
  • Should you prevent your parrot from eating soil?
  • Why parrots eat sand?
  • Why do parrots eat clay?

Sound good?

Let’s get started!

Is It Okay For Birds To Eat Dirt? Is It Safe?

Why Does My Parrot Eat Dirt

In nature, it is fairly normal to see parrots and other parrot-like species snacking on dirt, clay, and soil.

This is safe behavior for animals in the wild as it helps them to cut out toxins and gain nutrients such as sodium which they may often lack in their usual diet.

For domestic parrots it’s a different story


Because this activity can be dangerous, so be aware!

If you notice your bird is eating dirt from potted plants around the house or from a garden area, stop the animal and remove it immediately.

Soil from gardens generally contains fertilizer that will have many toxic chemicals in it that are poisonous to parrots.

So even though it may be derived from instinctual behavior, as its owner, you need to keep in mind that the dirt we normally keep around the house is not the same type of dirt parrots will find in the wild.

These additions such as fertilizer are harmful to your bird.

Should I Prevent Parrots From Eating Soil? 

Domestic parrots still need sodium in their diet, and if you notice them wanting to eat soil from your potted plants, this may be because of the lack of salt in their diet.

There is no real need to prevent your parrot from eating soil as long as you have safe, chemical-free soil around your house.

If you have plants around the house, make sure you use organic potting soil without fertilizers or pesticides.

Organic soil is harmless, and can even be beneficial for a parrot, but pesticide or fertilizer can be deadly.

If you are worried about the quantity of dirt your bird is eating, the best thing you can do is take your birdie to the vet, but also keep in mind that it is a natural activity for the parrot to ingest soil material.

Why Do Parrots Eat Sand?

Many birds will eat sand or grit to assist with digestion.

Doing this allows birds that eat seeds whole to break them down while in the gizzard.

However, parrots do not actually need grit to digest and it can be very dangerous if they do ingest too much of it.

If a parrot eats grit or sand in small amounts very infrequently, it should not be something to worry about.

Most likely this just means that your parrot has an upset stomach.

In general, however, you should not provide your parrot with grit or sand, because when consumed in larger quantities, it can be even fatal for your pet.

Why Do Parrots Eat Clay?

In Peru, a melting pot of many different species of parrots, you can find parrots indulging in the strange activity of licking clay.

It is not completely certain as to why parrots do this, but there are lots of different hypotheses.

The most common theory is that clay contains anti-toxins that allows wild parrots to eat things that are normally toxic to them, such as unripe fruit and certain seeds.

They eat a highly acidic diet and the nutrients in clay could help to balance out that acidity.

Another reason that parrots could lick clay is that it contains lots of minerals that their diet is otherwise lacking in.

For example, sodium is an essential resource for wild parrots, and clay contains much more of it than in plants which make up the majority of the parrot’s diet.

Final Words 

At first glance, it may be quite strange to see your pet eating something like dirt, but the reality is that this is absolutely natural behavior and it is something that you will often see in wild parrots.

However, even though it is instinctual, you need to keep in mind that your parrot lives in a different environment than wild parrots do.

A domesticated parrot may want to eat some soil like its wild cousins, but this needs to be taken with caution.

A lot of the soil found in houses and gardens contain chemicals like fertilizer, which is extremely harmful to your parrot.

The best way to counteract this is to make sure you have all-natural soil in your house so that you have a safe environment for your feathered friend.

We at birdcageshere.com write about bird health and diet however it should not be taken as medical advice. For advice on your bird you need to seek out an avian vet. The information you find on birdcageshere.com is for educational purposes only. At birdcageshere.com we are not liable for any information that you may find on here. Birdcageshere is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice about your bird.