Are Succulents Poisonous to Birds?

There are certain varieties of succulents that are poisonous to birds, such as the String of Pearls and the Yucca. They can cause symptoms that are so severe that they can be life-threatening. Other succulents, like Haworthia or Jade, are not poisonous to birds.

Can birds eat succulents?

Yes, birds can eat succulents because there are several varieties that are not poisonous when ingested by birds.

Succulents are named because of their ability to absorb and keep water in their bodies, specifically in their bulbs and leaves. This is also why their leaves and bodies look swollen and thick. Their leaves look as though they have a waxy finish because this is another way in which succulents are able to retain moisture.

Some succulents have evolved over time to develop individual defense mechanisms to deter animals from eating or harming them. Some grow spikes, some leave a bad taste when eaten, some have adapted to only grow in places that are away from birds, and many others have unique ways to keep safe and to proliferate.

Other succulents, like the some of the ones we will be discussing, are poisonous when ingested by birds. If you have any of these plants, it is best to keep them away from your pet birds, or to keep them in a greenhouse in case the wild birds living around your house try to eat them.

Which succulents are poisonous to birds?

In this list are some of the most common succulents that are poisonous to birds. To be safe, when you bring home a new succulent, do your research and find out if it is poisonous to birds and other animals.

Zanzibar Gem

This an African plant with glossy leaves that is very low maintenance. Even someone with little experience with plants will be able to keep this one alive. If you have pet birds, maybe leave this plant out of your wishlist. The whole plant is poisonous to them.

Yucca

Yucca can be eaten by humans, and it is even considered a delicacy in some South American nations. Birds, on the other hand, can exhibit symptoms of poisoning after ingestion, including nausea, vomiting, bloating, and diarrhea.

Mother in Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant

This plant also originated from the African continent. It attracts birds despite its swordlike appearance. After a bird ingests it, it will exhibit throat swelling, mouth pain, salivation, and skin rash.

String of Pearls

A plant that originated in southwest Africa and recently became quite popular amongst American plant collectors, the string of pearls grows as a chain of small bulbs. They love the shade and avoid direct sunlight. When ingested by birds, it will cause drooling, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Mother of Thousands

This plant has tiny purple flowers and sharp purple jagged stripes along its sides. When ingested by birds, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, lethargy, heart rate abnormalities, and even seizures.

Amaryllis

This succulent’s plant and bulb are both poisonous to birds. Unfortunately, their bright colors and star-shaped flowers make them very attractive to birds’ eyes. When eaten by birds, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and tremors.

Which succulents are safe for birds?

Fortunately, for people that enjoy taking care of both birds and succulents, there is a middle ground. There are varieties of succulents that pose no threat to your pet birds or the wild birds that live near your house. You do not have to give up one for the other as long as you know which succulents are safe for you to own.

Birds are going to be curious sometimes and take small bites of the plants in your garden. Of course, you can train them to discourage them from this behavior, as their frequent pecking of the plants can cause damage. But you cannot monitor your plants and birds around the clock, so it is better to keep them both safe from each other.

The following are the succulents that are not only low maintenance, but also fine to keep in the same home as your birds.

Zebra Haworthia

This is a fast-growing plant that can be easily propagated. It takes after its namesake because of the white stripes on its long, thin green leaves.

Sedum Burrito

This plant is also called “burro’s tail.” It is a popular Mexican succulent that is very easy to grow and take care of. It will grow in any type of soil you place it in, as long as it has good water drainage. Its silvery-green leaves dangle from its stems, making it such a pleasant plant to keep inside your home.

Tree Houseleeks

This plant’s glossy leaves makes it attractive to both birds and humans alike. They come from the Canary Islands but have been taken to just about every corner of the globe. Their wide leaves are a vibrant green, and they are a breeze to grow.

Christmas Cactus

This cactus got its name because its flowers bloom during the winter. This is not poisonous to birds when eaten.

Aloe Vera

This plant can be used to treat sunburn by breaking off its leaves and putting the gooey sap on your skin. It helps with the pain and the redness by soothing  it within 15 minutes. It is quite easy to grow and can be eaten safely by birds and even humans.

Hens and Chicks

This succulent is truly one of a kind. Its leaves are tufted and grow in a rosette pattern. It is easy to propagate and take care of. It is not only pretty to look at, but also safe to keep around the house.

Jade

This plant has thick leaves that store plenty of water. This makes this plant low maintenance: you will not need to water it frequently. This plant is pleasing to the eyes and safe to have around your pet birds.

Conclusion

Yes, there are varieties of succulents that are poisonous to birds when ingested. You have to keep in mind that most of the succulents that are sold as household ornaments come from exotic places from all over the world. These plants have evolved to have spikes or to be poisonous to animals that wish to eat them. Before you own a succulent, be sure you know if it is safe to keep around your own pet birds or near the wild birds that frequently visit your home.

Image: istockphoto.com / kynny

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