If you have ever spent time around a parrot, you may have noticed how much they love to snack.
It seems like most times I look over at my pet parrot; he has something else in his little beak.
Granted, he is not always eating.
Sometimes, he plays with a toy or uses his beak to climb around his cage or wherever we are hanging out.
However, a lot of times, he is eating something.
It makes me wonder, what makes him like certain foods? Does he have taste buds on that tiny tongue that helps him taste things?
Parrots do have taste buds, but most of them are on the roof of their mouth, not their tongue. They have a few hundred taste buds and some taste glands in the back of their throat. While they do not have many tastebuds, parrots still show preferences for particular tastes.
If you have a pet parrot, you may have already learned that some parrots can be pretty finicky eaters.
Tastebuds play a role in what your parrot will prefer to eat and not eat.
This article will dive into what tastebuds are, where they exist in parrot’s mouths, and how they are helpful to parrots.
Then we will talk about which tastes parrots tend to like and dislike.
Finally, we will also discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a parrot’s other senses.
What are taste buds?
When you look at your tongue in the mirror, you can see tiny little bumps all over it.
Those little bumps are actually sensory organs, and parrots have them, too.
Several taste buds sit on each of those little bumps.
On the taste buds are microscopic hairs that tell the brain how something tastes.
Where are parrots taste buds?
Instead of living on their tongue as our taste buds do, a parrot’s tastebuds are on the roof of their mouth.
Unlike many other mammals and us, parrots only have around three hundred taste buds and have some additional taste glands in the back of their throats.
However, that does not mean that they do not have a fair sense of taste.
Why did parrots evolve to have taste buds?
Over time, parrots have adapted to detect different tastes to inform them about food.
The different tastes they encounter in the world can help a parrot determine whether or not something is edible.
For example, if a parrot puts something in its mouth that is bitter, they are likely to spit it back out.
They reject bitterness because parrots have learned that bitter foods can sometimes contain poisonous substances that might make them sick.
Salt is another case of a taste that parrots will try to avoid since an excess of sodium can be bad for parrots.
On the other hand, parrots may see yummy tastes as a signal that the food they are trying is a healthy option for them.
Do parrots like specific tastes?
It is hard to know for sure the taste preferences of a parrot.
Sometimes a parrot may choose one food over another based on the texture or the nutritional content of the food.
Still, parrots can detect sweetness, unlike most other birds.
For this reason, they tend to enjoy fruits more than other species of birds.
Can parrots eat spicy foods?
If you own a parrot, you may already know that parrots like to eat the seeds of chilli peppers.
However, if we eat a bunch of chilli seeds, it would burn our tongue because of capsaicin in peppers that tell our brains that the food we are eating is spicy.
On the other hand, parrots do not have capsaicin receptors, so they do not react to spicy food.
In addition, the seeds of chilli pepper contain a lot of Vitamin A, which is an essential nutrient for parrots
Do parrots have a sense of smell?
Once you have learned about a parrot’s ability to taste, you may be curious about the skills of their other senses.
Parrots are not known for their outstanding ability to taste nor smell.
That being said, they still can smell, just not incredibly well.
Compared to most other birds, parrots have well-developed olfactory glands.
Olfactory glands give them the power to both smell and taste.
However, since odors dissipate so quickly in the air, and that is where parrots spend most of their time, they do not rely heavily on their sense of smell.
Some other birds have adapted to be able to smell as well.
For example, kiwis in New Zealand can smell earthworms buried in the ground beneath them.
Likewise, vultures can detect the smell of rotting meat on the ground from high in the sky.
What about parrot’s other senses?
While parrots’ smell and taste may be considered subpar compared to other animals, their other three senses are relatively strong.
In addition, parrots can see well, though in a very different way from humans.
They look at objects with one eye at a time, which is why you may see your parrot tilting their head from side to side to see different things.
They also have a strong sense of touch.
Parrots use their feet to explore and make sense of the world around them.
As a pet owner, you may witness them making a cute dance-like motion to gingerly use one foot to test out a perch before moving to perch there.
They use their feet much like we use our hands to gather information about the objects in our world.
Lastly, parrots can hear sounds and detect which direction those sounds are coming from.
This talent is thanks to their tiny ears, which just look like holes on the sides of their heads.
Treat your parrot to tasty treats.
Just like you, your parrot needs to eat a range of tastes and textures in foods.
They use flavor to lead them to eat foods that are healthy and safe for them.
So if you’re looking to win brownie points with your parrot, try spicing up their food.
Using different spices and tastes in your parrots’ food helps keep them stimulated and content as your pet.