Sweet potato is something that many humans enjoy on a weekly basis. Sweet potato is every health-nut’s dream because it is rich in nutrients and minerals, tastes nice and are lower on the glycaemic index than potatoes. However, the question that is hanging on every parrot lovers mind is- can I share these benefits with my parrot?
This is a valid question and one that deserves to be answered. That is why Parrot Website has made this guide so that you know all the details surrounding sweet potato and its suitability for parrots.
The answer to this question is yes, parrots can eat sweet potatoes. They are suitable for parrots and can be eaten with no health repercussions. Sweet potatoes can be cooked, mashed, stewed or grated and then given to your parrot- it really depends on which option is easiest for you and which one your parrot likes the most.
Below you will find information on the benefits of sweet potatoes, how they should be added to the diet and even more.
What Are Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes come from the Americas, in particular Central and North America. They were eaten by the native populations of both of these regions for thousands of years before they were even discovered by European settlers.
Nowadays, they are staple of many diets around the world and their taste is loved due to, as the name would suggest, its sweetness compared with an ordinary white potato.
In modern day United States, a sweet potato is often called a “yam”, although they are different to true yams.
What Kind Of Benefits For Parrots Come With Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes have a huge number of benefits, such as these…
They taste nice
Parrots need plenty of stimulation in order to keep them happy and to make sure they are living healthy lives. This links to their food as feeding them the same food every day will not provide your parrot with the stimulation it needs- however, if you throw in some sweet potato every now and again, it will keep your parrot interested.
Promotes gut health
The fibre and vitamins that are inside sweet potato will better the health of your parrot’s gut. This will mean that your parrots digestion will be better off and your parrot will be able to absorb more of the nutrients from the food you give your bird.
Rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are very important to keeping both humans and birds heathy. They will protect your cells from free radicals which are known to be causes of cancer- something that is particularly prevalent in older birds.
Sweet potatoes are very rich in vitamin A which is used in the eyes. Therefore, in order to keep your bird’s eyes as healthy as they can be, make sure to feed them plenty of sweet potato.
How Should You Feed Your Parrot Sweet Potato?
As talked about in the basic answer, sweet potato can be cooked in almost any way and fed to your parrot.
For example, you can bake the sweet potato, mash it and give it to your parrot- although, there are many other ways of giving sweet potato to your parrot such as sweet potato fries.
It should be noted however, that if you suspect that your sweet potato is moldy, it must not be given to your parrot as mold is dangerous to parrots and can cause severe illness if allowed to be ingested.
As compared to other food items you can feed your parrot, sweet potato is something that you can feed you parrot consistently without having to worry about any adverse health effects.
As mentioned above, sweet potato has a huge number of health benefits and therefore, could take the place of other food items such as seeds or nuts that you would feed your parrot regularly.
Because of how suitable it is, you could use it as a regular part of your bird’s diet or as a special treat that you include once a week or so.
Unlike foods such as fat balls, sweet potato is not too heavy calorie wise so it can be a regular part of a parrot’s diet and it is high enough in vitamins and minerals so that it is worth it.
Are There Any Disadvantages To Giving Sweet Potato To Your Parrot?
Despite the advantages that sweet potato brings, there are disadvantages that you need to watch for when feeding your parrot sweet potato.
The main disadvantage of sweet potatoes is that they are expensive to buy- especially if you feed your parrot lots of them on a regular basis.
If you live in a country that grows a lot of white potatoes, such as the US or the UK, you will find that sweet potatoes are more expensive than white potatoes- if you are watchful of your spending then you may want to limit the number of sweet potatoes your parrots eat.
The only other disadvantage is that your parrot could become overweight if given too many sweet potatoes.
The risk is low, but if you give your parrot too much of anything then your bird can become overweight which increases the risk of a number of serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
These two are the only real risks to the use of sweet potato as a food source and the second risk is very slight.
What About Sweet Potato Cake?
Because of the sweet in sweet potato, they are often used in cakes and therefore, can make up part of a vegan or vegetarian diet. However, are they suitable for parrots? Can you get the same amount of benefit from sweet potato cake as you can from sweet potato?
In short, possibly. You can still get a similar level of nutrients from sweet potato cake as you can from sweet potato. However, it should be noted that some of the vitamins and minerals will be denatured by the heat that it takes to cook the cake. Also, because of the need for other ingredients such as fat, flour and eggs, the calorie count will be larger and so the risk of your parrot being overweight will be greater.
If you do want to feed your parrot sweet potato cake, then it is best to do so in small amounts. Sweet potato cake should be given as a treat to parrots to spice up their meals- as parrots need a lot of stimulation. If you give your bird too much then your parrot runs the risk of becoming overweight which in turn, can lead to other conditions. Another thing to be considered is that sweet potato is more expensive than seeds or bird feed, so it might not be a viable option for some owners.
Can Parrots Eat Sweet Potato Skin?
The skin of a sweet potato is harder than the sweet potato itself and so this draws questions about a parrot’s ability to digest it properly, however, the results may surprise you.
The skin of a sweet potato offers far more good than bad. Despite its harder texture and different taste, they are perfectly safe for your parrot to eat and they are not poisonous and the risk of choking is minimal. In fact, the skin of a sweet potato has a number of nutrients that you will not find in the rest of the potato.
Fiber is a nutrient that is vital for gut health and digestive health and is found in the skin of sweet potato. If you do not give your parrot the skin, then you could be missing out on this valuable nutrient.
Are There Any Substitutes for Sweet Potato?
Luckily there are alternatives to sweet potato that will bring the same high level of nutrients matched with the same sweet flavour and interesting texture.
- Carrots make for a great substitution for sweet potatoes. They are much cheaper than sweet potatoes and yet they have a very similar level of nutrients- carrots are rich in vitamin A as well. They are also a sweeter vegetable and also have an interesting texture to keep your birds stimulated and mentally healthy.
- White sweet potatoes are another great option that you can use if your supplies of normal sweet potatoes run low. They are very similar to sweet potatoes except they have a white color as opposed to the normal orange color. This also means that they share much of the same nutritional information.
- Finally, a third good substitute is a jewel or a yam. These are another very similar type of potato that has all of the nutritional benefits you would expect with a sweet potato and the same sweet taste and texture. If you live in the US or can get a hold of these, then these truly are a great choice.
To Sum Up
Sweet potatoes are a great option for your bird and one that you should definitely take advantage of when looking for new feed for your bird. They are packed full of useful nutrients to help your bird’s eyesight and even fight cancer. They are also low on the glycaemic index and are not high in calories. The only real downside to sweet potatoes is that they are expensive and therefore, you might need to use some of the substitutes like carrots or yams.