Can African Greys Eat Cheese? (Food to Avoid)

One lovely warm evening, my friend and I enjoyed a cheese board with lots of cheese types.

I love cheese and eat it a lot, so I could not help but wonder if African grey can eat cheese? Can I share some tasty cheese treats with my feathered friend?

Yes, usually they can eat cheese, but they should not eat it. The thing is that cheese is a very unhealthy snack for your parrot. So occasional bites of cheese won’t do much harm to your bird. So you may give your pet a tiny piece of cheese every now and then. However, it’s better not to feed your African grey with cheese too often.

Now there are many kinds of cheese available in different sizes and shapes. So let’s see what exactly makes cheese a harmful snack for your parrot and birds in general. 

Why Is Cheese Unhealthy for African Grey Parrots?

You probably have heard that some people limit or reduce the amount of dairy products in their diet because their stomachs don’t tolerate lactose. The same is true for African grey parrots. They don’t tolerate lactose, so giving them cheese can lead to various issues with their digestive system. A parrot can get stomach pain and cramps.

Remember that birds are not mammals. Birds differ from mammals in many ways. For example, they are not raised on mother’s milk as parrot’s parents hunt to provide food for their chicks.

African grey parrots have a digestive system that is not suited for digesting milk and products that contain lactose, including cheese. Therefore, even if you give your bird a small amount of cheese, this may cause pain in the stomach and digestive problems.

Even if it may seem that African grey enjoys the cheese pieces, you should not give cheese to your parrot as it contains lactose which is not suitable for the bird.

What Is Lactose?

Let’s see what lactose is? In the most basic understanding, it’s a type of sugar.

Milk contains 2% to 8% of lactose. Naturally, cheese contains a high amount of lactose in it too. This may give you an idea of why it causes serious digestion problems.

When digested, it bears a calorie amount similar to carbohydrates. However, sometimes it can’t be digested even by mammals, not to mention birds. This is because birds, including parrots, don’t have the necessary enzymes to digest the lactose products properly. These enzymes are absent in their digestive system because they don’t need to digest milk from the day they are born.

Considering that around 75% of humans can’t digest lactose due to intolerance, it’s not a surprise that the same works for non-mammals.

Is Cheese Safe as a Rare Treat for My African Grey?

It’s pretty usual that you want to share your food with your feathery friend. I can understand that when you eat something tasty, you want to share it with your loved ones. Sharing food is an activity that helps create a solid bond between two creatures.

So if your parrot comes to you for a piece of a treat, you can slice the cheese into tiny pieces and give some to your parrot. Be sure the pieces are small. It’s not that cheese doesn’t include nutrients. In fact, there are calcium and protein are in cheese. But the risk of getting symptoms of lactose intolerance in your bird is high. So it’s best not to feed your parrot with cheese. Choosing a plate of nuts or fruits as a snack for your African grey is a better idea. Also, if you can keep your and your parrot’s food separated.

To sum up, giving your parrot cheese as a rare treat is not a good idea.

Can My African Grey Eat Lacto-Free Cheese?

You may have an idea to replace the cheese with lactose with cheese that is free of lactose. There are many vegan and lactose-free cheeses available in the market today.

However, these products are highly-processed and have added flavors that can be harmful for your bird. Many lactose-free kinds of cheese are made with soy and oils.

Soy can cause stomach issues in your parrot as it includes lots of protein. As you know, parrots need small amounts of protein in their diet, so giving them soy-based cheeses may not be a good idea.

So, in my opinion, you should not feed your African grey with processed food, including vegan cheeses and lactose-free ones.

The less common option is nut-based cheeses. These products can be beneficial for your parrot because nuts are a usual product for parrots in the wild. However, such products remain highly processed, so they are not suitable for your African grey in the long run.

Is Any Type of Cheese Safe to Give  To African Greys?

The short answer will be No!

All cheese products still contain lactose, so giving it to your parrot is a bad idea that will not bring any good to your African grey.

Cheese spreads like soft cheeses (camembert or brie), and cottage cheese usually contains more lactose, so you should not give any of these to your parrot.

Harder cheese types like Swiss cheese are lower in lactose content. So if you still want to feed your parrot with cheese, give preference to harder cheese types.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, the answer to the question is best not to give cheese to your African grey. Because birds don’t tolerate lactose due to their biological build, giving cheese to your parrot may lead to numerous stomach issues.

Cheese can be given to the parrot occasionally but not regularly. The quantity of the cheese you give to your parrot should be tiny to prevent lactose intolerance.

Instead of feeding your parrot with cheese pieces, not to cause all these issues, use nuts or fruits as a snack.