There’s little doubt that parrots love nuts and seeds.
Whether they are in the wild or at home, nuts are a nutritious food source for parrots.
Nuts come in a wide range of varieties – some of which are safe for parrots and others which are not.
One of the nuts we get asked about most is peanuts.
Peanuts are one of the cheapest nuts to buy and are a great snack for us humans.
Of course, our parrots would love for us to share but before we do, we need to ask ourselves – can parrots eat peanuts?
The answer to this question is yes, parrots can eat peanuts. In fact, peanuts contain a variety of nutrients that play an important role in a parrots diet.
With that being said, you really need to be careful with what kinds of peanuts you feed your parrot.
Speciality peanuts can contain added salts and spices that can be harmful to parrots.
Furthermore, low quality peanut shells can contain something called Alfatoxin which can lead to disease in parrots.
For this reason, you need to select your peanuts very carefully.
Today we will discuss this topic more in depth learning more about Aflatoxin and the harm it can cause to parrots. We will also answer other commonly asked questions like:
- What health benefits do peanuts have for parrots?
- How do you select high quality peanuts for parrots?
- How many peanuts can you feed your parrot?
- Can parrots have peanut butter?
- Can parrots have salted peanuts?
And so much more – so let’s not waste another minute!
What health benefits do peanuts hold for parrots?
Peanuts hold a variety of nutritional benefits for parrots. These include, but are not limited to:
Parrots require a good balance of protein in their diet. Too much or too little can result in complications. Protein is required for feather formation, as well as for keeping birds warm during the molting process. Too little protein can result in Fatty Liver Disease, and stunted growth and development.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Biotin helps to prevent against heart disease, skin conditions, and neurological disorders. Like proteins, too much Biotin can also be harmful. A good balance is required in a parrots diet.
Copper is required for healthy bones, blood vessels, and connective tissues. Without it parrots can experience impairments in feather pigmentation, bone fragility, and shell abnormalities.
Manganese is essential for shell formation, growth, reproduction, and normal bone growth. Without it, parrots may experience poor muscle coordination, perosis, or luxation.
Vitamin E is essential in any parrots diet. Without it parrots can experience muscular and skeletal dystrophy, parakeratosis, softening of the brain, exudative diathesis, and other bird diseases.
Phosphorus is required for healthy bone development, as well as metabolism. Without it, parrots can have a difficult time producing eggs or experience poor egg shell quality.
Magnesium is required for a healthy heart, proper bone formation, and carbohydrate metabolism. Without it, parrots can experience poor growth, lethargy, convulsions, and even death.
What is Aflatoxin?
Aflatoxin is a group of toxins that is created by the Aspergillus fungus. It is commonly found in peanuts, as well as grains and cereals. Essentially, it’s a type of mold.
This mold has a tendency to grow when peanuts are not stored properly. Like most molds it thrives in damp, warm, and dark conditions.
When Aflatoxin is ingested by a parrot it can be toxic. More specifically, Aflatoxin is a liver toxin that birds are especially susceptible to. Even low levels can result in toxicity or even death, and prolonged exposure is highly associated with liver cancer. Chronic exposure to Aflatoxin can also cause:
- Nasal Discharge
- Weight loss
- Feather fraying
- Black edges on feathers
- Voice changes
For this reason, you should only feed your parrots peanuts of high quality, that you know have not been improperly stored.
If you feed your parrot peanuts and notice any of the above symptoms, have them checked out at a veterinarian as soon as possible. Aflatoxin can be deadly, so it’s not something you want to take chances with.
How can you ensure your peanuts are high quality?
Okay, so we’ve established that you can feed your parrots peanuts as long as they are high quality. But how do you know if a peanut is high quality?
First off, make sure your peanuts are safe for human consumption. Secondly, select a brand name producer. Commercial producers tests all of their peanuts for Aflatoxin before selling them. If they are not above the levels permissible by the USDA, they do not sell them in stores. Avoid peanuts that are not sold by name brands, as well as peanuts that are sold in bulk.
Despite some rumor that roasting destroys Aflatoxin, this is not true. It’s okay to feed your parrot roasted peanuts here and there, but again, make sure they are of high quality. The idea that roasting destroys this toxin is just a rumor.
How many peanuts can I feed my parrot?
Many parrot owners don’t like to feed their parrots peanuts at all. It can be very difficult to confirm the absence of Aflatoxin in peanuts, so many simply prefer not to take the risk. If you are going to feed your parrot peanuts, do so in very small quantities. Two or three peanuts as a small snack should be okay, but anything more could be harmful.
Always be sure that if you are feeding your parrot peanuts, you remove them from the shell first. This can help to prevent the ingestion of Aflatoxin.
Can My Parrot have Salted Peanuts?
You should avoid giving your parrot salted peanuts. Even small amounts of salt can be toxic to your parrot. When parrots have too much salt, it can upset the fluid and electrolyte balance within their systems. This can result in excessive thirst or dehydration, or in severe cases kidney failure and death. So if you’re going to give your parrot peanuts, stick with the non-salted versions.
Can My Parrot eat the Peanut Shell?
No, you should never feed your parrot the peanut shell. Though some nut casings are fine for your parrots to nibble on, peanut shells are not one of them. It is the shell of the peanut that contains the most Aflatoxin so it needs to be completely removed before the peanut is fed to your parrot. Feeding your parrot the shell of the peanut (or even allowing them to remove it on their own) can cause illness.
Can my Parrot have Peanut Butter?
Yes. Your parrot can have small amounts of peanut butter. Again, you want to make sure that the peanut butter you are feeding your parrot is from a brand name company that tests for Aflatoxin before placing their products on the shelves.
Organic peanut butter doesn’t have any added sugar but the storage conditions can be questionable. When it comes to feeding your parrots peanuts or peanut butter, stick to the bigger names.
Raw vs. Roasted – which is better?
When it comes to the raw vs. roasted debate, it really just depends what your parrot likes more. Roasted peanuts are generally softer for parrots to chew but most parrots can handle either or. Smaller parrots may prefer roasted peanuts for these reasons.
Remember, however, that just because peanuts are roasted does not mean that the Aflatoxin is destroyed. Always make sure that you are buying high quality peanuts for your parrot regardless of whether they are roasted or raw.
In conclusion yes, parrots can have peanuts. Does that mean they should have peanuts? Maybe not. I would personally recommend that you avoid feeding your parrot peanuts. With that being said, this is a personal decision. If you do decide to feed your parrot peanuts, go with high quality brands.