Why Do Parrots Eat Paper? + Is Paper Consumption Dangerous For Parrots?

why do parrots eat paper and is it safe for them

Most people lay some sort of paper down at the bottom of their parrot’s cage. Inevitably, the paper gets shredded by our winged companions as they scratch around in their “nest.” This is perfectly natural, but why do some parrots eat the paper?

Parrots eat paper because it easily breaks up in their beak as they tear it up. They just enjoy scratching around and tearing things up with their beaks, and sometimes they might swallow small pieces without trying. Unless your parrot has a disorder, it won’t deliberately eat paper.

Parrots use their beaks to identify all sorts of things. They feel and taste with their beaks and tongues to decide what they can eat and what they shouldn’t.

It is not unusual for parrots to chew paper if they get access to it. So, let’s delve deeper into the possible reasons for parrots to eat paper and the consequences if they swallow it.

why parrots eats paper

Reasons Why Parrots Eat Paper

Parrots eat paper primarily because of nesting habits. They shred vegetation in the wild to make soft nests for themselves and offspring. If a parrot is feeling particularly broody, it will shred anything within range.

Some parrots like to play with the paper in their mouth by moving it around with their tongues. Some swallow small bits in the process while most spit it out.

Parrots also shred paper for fun. It’s a natural instinct that keeps them busy. They probably feel a good sense of accomplishment after shredding an entire newspaper into pieces within hours.

Alright! Now that you know why your parrots may try to eat paper, let’s also understand if it is normal for them to eat paper.

Is It Normal For Parrots To Eat Paper?

It’s normal for parrots to eat a small amount of paper unintentionally. They do this while shredding paper with their beaks.

Parrots will shred paper to pass the time and to customize their nest as they would in the wild.

Parrots and other birds may have a built-in mechanism that helps prevent them from swallowing harmful matter in general. Many birds, including parrots, chew on items without swallowing them.

What Happens When Parrots Eat Paper?

If a parrot eats excessive amounts of paper, it may lead to a blockage in its digestive system. More specifically, in the crop, proventriculus, ventriculus, or intestines.

In most cases, if the paper is swallowed, it passes through their body along with the rest of their food within hours.

Very young parrots may run into health issues if they swallow too much paper. They might do this because they are not wise enough to discern what is good and bad for them to eat.

If you’re worried about your parrot eating too much paper, monitor their eating and drinking patterns.

If they eat food and drink water as usual, they probably don’t have any paper stuck in their digestive system.

The small amount of paper that a parrot might swallow is not enough to poison it in any way.

But if it eats more paper than usual, there is a chance of some blockage in its system. The primary symptom of blockage in any birds system is the loss of appetite.

Interesting Further Reading:

Types Of Paper That Is Harmful To Parrots

Some papers can be harmful to your parrot. Here are some common examples.

Laminated paper

It is important to keep laminated paper and other papers away from the reach of parrots that have glue or other chemicals in them. These types of paper can harm your parrot.

Paper roll inners

Paper roll inners contain glue that is harmful to parrots. The adhesive used on the rolls contains zinc or other potential toxins. These zinc toxicoses are dangerous and can prove fatal to parrots.


Cardboard boxes can also be toxic for parrots because of the glue used to stick them together. Luckily parrots don’t care to swallow paper, as mentioned before.

But if your parrot has a tendency of swallowing cardboard pieces while breaking them apart, it’s best to give it something else to shred, like newspaper or telephone book paper.

Is Computer Paper Safe For Parrots?

Yes, blank computer paper is safe for parrots to shred and interact with. Laser print on computer paper is also safe as there are no chemicals involved.

However, if you have computer paper that you’ve printed on with ink, don’t let your parrot chew on it as there are toxins in printer ink.

Is Parchment Paper Safe For Parrots?

Stationery parchment paper is not safe for parrots, as it has chemicals inside it that are toxic for them.

Cooking parchment can be used in parrot cages as it’s made with safer, water-based chemicals.

Even though cooking parchment paper is safe for parrots to interact with, it’s far too expensive compared to newspapers that work just as well.

Toys That Are Dangerous For Parrots

You have to be very selective when buying your parrot toys. We say this because of your parrot’s ability to destroy things with that powerful beak.

Don’t buy toys made of metal like copper, chrome bells, lead clappers, or chains.

These types of toys can be toxic for your parrot. Stainless steel is suitable for parrots’ toys and is considered bird safe.

Whatever you give your parrot, it’s probably going to destroy it. That’s why it’s best to get toys that can be broken into pieces without posing any danger.

Parrot toys made of natural wood and bark are excellent choices that will keep your parrot safe and healthy at the same time.

Nuts are also great for your parrots to enjoy. Hard shells keep them busy while they work their way to the center.

Don’t give your parrot anything that can be pulled apart in strands.

Like a tennis ball, as your parrot tears it apart, it can create tough strands of fiber that can get tangled around your parrot.

Recommended Further Reading:

Points To Remember

Parrots don’t really eat paper. They mostly just shred it with their claws and beaks. If they do swallow some of it, it doesn’t really matter.

The likelihood of their digestive system getting blocked by a bit of paper is very low. Otherwise, there would be countless cases of parrots falling ill as most people cover the bottom of the cage with paper.

It’s a natural urge for parrots to shred things up into pieces. That’s what they do in the wild to build their nests. Shredded grass and leaves make a soft nest to raise young.

As long as you keep an eye on your parrot and make sure they’re eating and drinking every day, you shouldn’t need to worry about them chewing on paper. When in doubt, visit your veterinarian for a professional opinion.