Parrots are a family of birds (with over 300 different species), that share similar characteristics and go by the scientific name of “Psittacidae”.
While many of these birds are known for living in the tropics, many people nowadays are taking them on as pets.
If you decide to bring home a parrot, you need to know that they follow a very specific diet.
There are some foods that parrots can have, and others that they can’t.
This leads us to a very common question for parrot owners – can parrots eat apples?
The simple answer to this question is yes, parrots can eat apples. In fact, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is essential to any parrots diet. Having said that, apples cannot be a main meal source for your bird. Rather, apples should always be combined with other healthy alternatives, and should only be served as a fun snack.
What types of healthy alternatives are we talking about?
A complete and balanced diet for your parrot should include a variety of:
Fruits (apples, oranges, strawberries, banana, etc)
Vegetables (spinach, broccoli, carrots, peppers, etc)
Dry bird food
But in sticking with the topic of apples, there are a variety of questions that we can ask about feeding our parrots apples.
What benefits do apples hold for birds?
How often can I feed my parrot apples?
Can my parrot eat the apple peel?
What about the apple seed?
Today we will look at each of these questions in a little more detail. Let’s not waste any more time!
What benefits do apples hold for parrots?
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – this is a saying that we’ve all heard, and for good reason.
For people, apples are loaded with a variety of essential nutrients.
The same is true when it comes to parrots.
Apples hold a variety of nutrients that are essential for the growth of your parrot’s feathers, and for their overall health.
These nutrients include:
Vitamin C is a nutrient that is very important for many birds.
When parrots don’t receive the proper amount of vitamin C within their diet, they can start to engage in behaviors that can destroy their plumage.
These behaviors can include things like excessive preening, chewing the tips of their own feathers, or even tearing their feathers out.
If you find that your parrot is engaging in these behaviors, a Vitamin C deficiency could be the cause.
Vitamin C can be found in apples, along with broccoli, kiwis, peppers, and cherries.
Vitamin A is another nutrient that plays an essential role in the upkeep and health of your parrots feathers.
If you have ever noticed that some parrots have impressive blue, orange, yellow, or red pigmentations, this is partially attributed to a balanced intake of Vitamin A.
Unfortunately, synthetic Vitamin A products can actually be toxic to your parrot. In return, it’s important that they get their daily intake through fresh foods.
Apples can be a good source of Vitamin A, as can broccoli, pumpkin, parsley, and apricots.
Magnesium not only plays a role in the health and appearance of your parrots feathers, but is also important for the development of bones, beaks, muscle coordination, brain neurons, and overall heart health.
Apples are loaded with magnesium, but it can also be found in spinach, bananas, and broccoli.
How often can you feed your parrot apples?
As mentioned above, it’s completely fine to feed your parrot apples, but only in moderation.
Apples should never be a main meal for your parrot, and should only be provided as a fun snack.
So how do you know how much to feed your parrot?
Fresh fruits, vegetables, and greens should account for 20-25% of your parrot’s daily food intake.
While apples are an ideal choice for nutrients (and most parrots love them as a snack), they should be combined with other fruits as well.
As a general rule, you should feed your parrot a mixture of three different fruits each day.
The more mixture you have, the more essential nutrients they will receive.
So is it okay to feed your parrot apples daily?
Yes, but it’s better to feed your parrot a mixture of fruits not only throughout the day, but also throughout the week.
As a general recommendation, provide apples as a fruit portion 2-3 times per week.
If you are feeding them apples every day, just make sure that you are also serving your parrot other types of fruits as well to ensure that they are getting different types of nutrients that may not be provided by apples.
Can parrots eat the apple skin?
The answer to this question is both yes and no.
While it is not necessary to peel the apple skin for your parrot, it is highly recommended.
This isn’t because your parrot will choke on the skin – they can eat it just fine.
The reason peeling is recommended is because no matter how much you wash the skin of your apple, it still contains pesticides which can be very toxic to birds.
What are pesticides?
Pesticides are a type of substance that are used to kill or repel “pests”.
Farmers often spray these on their crops to keep animals and bugs away.
Unfortunately, when these pesticides are sprayed on fruits like apples, they accumulate on the outer layer.
Apples are considered to be very high in pesticides. In fact, they ranked number four among the most contaminated fruits and vegetables, only after strawberries, spinach, and nectarines.
Unfortunately, pesticides are toxic to birds, and even if you wash your apples, the skin may still contain small amounts of pesticides.
Obviously when washed these pesticides are not as much as a concern as they are for birds in the wild, but the risk does still exist – it’s better to be safe than sorry and just peel the apple before feeding your parrot.
If you are against peeling the apple and would like for your bird to have the nutrients contained within the skin, consider switching to an organic supplier that doesn’t use pesticides or harsh chemicals.
Can my parrot eat Apple seeds?
NO! While most fruit is safe for parrots to consume in small quantities, some fruits contain seeds that can be toxic. Apples are one of those fruits.
While apples are safe to consume on their own, the seeds and pits of the apples contain small traces of a cardiac-toxic cyanide compound that can be deadly to your parrot.
Thoroughly clean and core the apple before feeding it your parrot to avoid feeding them any toxins that could cause them harm. We really like this apple corer on Amazon.
What should you do if your parrot has accidentally ingested an apple seed?
While apple seeds may not always have an adverse effect on your parrot, it’s important that you keep a close eye on them if they have accidentally ingested one.
Signs that the seed may be causing illness can include loss or increase of appetite, closed eyes, reduced mobility, shortness of breath, increased thirst, isolation, weight loss, and diarrhea.
If you notice any of these symptoms, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
If you are very concerned about your parrot or if your parrot has eaten several seeds, don’t wait for a reaction or symptoms to occur.
Take them to the veterinarian immediately following the ingestion and explain the situation.
Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
So is it safe to feed your parrot apples?
Absolutely! Most parrots love apples, and will welcome them as a nutritious treat.
Fruits and vegetables should account for 20 to 25 percent of your parrot’s daily diet, and Apples are a good way to provide them with Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Magnesium, which are all essential for feathers and overall health.
Just be sure that when you are feeding your parrot apples, you either feed them organic apples, or you peel the skin.
Always cut the core and seeds off to ensure that your parrot doesn’t intake any traces of cyanide.
Finally, ensure that apples are not the main source of nutrition for your parrot.
Combine this healthy snack with a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, and dry bird food, and you will have one happy, healthy parrot!