Do Pigeons Explode If They Eat Baking Soda or Rice?

There is a time-honored tradition of throwing uncooked rice at weddings.

Traditionally thrown over the bride and groom when they exit the church, this rice is meant to symbolize the expansion of the family unit.

Rice was likely chosen because it expands when it cooks, becoming an apt metaphor for the family becoming bigger through matrimony.

Furthermore, it was cheap and readily available, meaning that people did not mind wasting it. 

However, this tradition has become less popular in recent times. This is because a rumor that rice caused pigeons to explode if they accidentally consumed it spread like wildfire during the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1985, a bill was created in Connecticut that sought the prevention of this wedding tradition. Its creators hoped to stop newlywed couples from throwing rice after the ceremony.

The fact that this bill existed represents the popularity of this rumor. 

Many churches do not honor this tradition of throwing rice at weddings, in part as a response to this widely held belief. 

Since then, many people have wondered whether this rumor is really true. To help you, we have provided the answers for whether pigeons truly explode when they eat rice or baking soda.

Unlike these rumors, we seek only to spread facts and truth.


No, pigeons do not really explode when they eat rice. The rumor claimed that pigeons could not eat uncooked rice because it would mix with water and begin to expand while in their stomachs.

Allegedly, a pigeon’s stomach would also expand, causing them to burst. 

While this may seem like a reasonable explanation, it is not true. Firstly, this theory assumes that rice does not need high temperatures to cook.

Rice needs to be cooked at high temperatures, which a pigeon’s stomach will be unable to reach. In order for the rice to absorb enough water to cook in a pigeon’s stomach, it would have to be in there for a long time.

However, the rice will leave the pigeon’s digestive system in the form of excrement. 

Because of this, you do not have to worry about throwing rice at weddings. In fact, we heartily encourage you to do so if the newlyweds have agreed.

If you are wondering if pigeons will be attracted to rice, there are better foods that you can use to get these birds into your garden, namely seeds and grains.

Baking Soda

Likewise, the old wives’ tale that pigeons will explode if they consume baking soda is also false.

According to this myth, baking soda will cause gas to emerge in the stomach of a pigeon. This gas will expand, apparently making the bird explode. 

This is simply not true. Even if the science behind this theory were true, the pigeon would be capable of releasing this gas through its mouth. If anything, pigeons can eat most foods.

In the rare situation that a pigeon does eat anything that it should not consume, it will naturally regurgitate it.

Of course, this does not mean that you should feed them anything that is not intended for pigeons. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can All Birds Eat Uncooked Rice?

Yes, birds can eat raw rice. Despite the rumors that have pervaded this subject, most birds enjoy consuming rice. Birds will naturally eat rice. 

What Foods Should You Not Feed To Birds?

The answer to this question will depend somewhat on the type of bird you are feeding. However, there are a few foods that should, as a general rule, never be given to birds.

These include:

  • Avocados: even though many vegetables will be beneficial to a bird’s health, avocados are not. This is because avocados contain persin, a toxin that is dangerous for birds. When it is ingested, it can cause many health issues in birds and they can even die from it. 
  • Chocolate: while many humans cannot resist the delicious taste of chocolate, birds should. Chocolate is actually harmful to most pets, including birds. Chocolate features theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to birds. If a bird does manage to eat a piece of chocolate, it may suffer from seizures, hyperactivity, and death. 
  • Onions: like avocados, you may assume that onions would be fine to give to birds. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Containing sulfur, onions can be really deadly to birds. 
  • Milk: we do not recommend leaving milk or other dairy products out for your birds. The reason for this is that birds cannot consume lactose. If they do, they will have stomach problems. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to have rice thrown at your wedding is entirely your choice.

However, you should remember that not pigeons will not be adversely affected by it. If a pigeon does eat uncooked rice that has been left on the ground, it will not explode.

This is the same with baking powder, which has not been proven to cause birds to expand. As a result, you should not fear pigeons or other birds accidentally eating these foods. 

You should, however, bear in mind that this tradition may not be good for other wildlife. 

In addition, it will be a strenuous task for people to clean up once the ceremony is over. These are some of the reasons why this tradition has declined in popularity.

Consequently, you should seriously consider whether you want this to be a part of your wedding day.