Wild parrots rely on nuts, such as cashews, for sustenance. However, you might be concerned about cashews’ fat and calorie content for sedentary captive parrots.
Cashews are good for parrots as long as they’re raw and unsalted. They’re a rich source of selenium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin K, and vitamin B-6.
Cashew nuts are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and strokes. Unfortunately, cashews are high in fat, calories, and salt (sodium).
As with all nuts, only feed a parrot cashews a couple of times a week.
Are Parrots Allowed Cashews?
Cashews are among the safest nuts for parrots to eat. Of all parrot-safe nuts, they have the highest levels of copper and zinc, which help parrots develop blood, absorb nutrients, and have good eye health.
While cashew nuts are high in fat, they contain healthy oils. However, you should still restrict the number of cashew nuts your parrot eats. Also, avoid salted nuts and feed them raw.
When giving parrots cashews:
- Soak them in water to reduce the amount of phytic acid.
- Feed them to your parrot whole so it can break the cashews open.
- Hang them on the cage with a piece of string, allowing the bird to pick at them when hungry.
Are Cashews Safe for Parrots?
Cashew nuts contain the following vitamins, minerals, and nutrients:
Cashew nuts are an excellent source of copper, which parrots need for heme (iron compound) synthesis. It also creates healthy blood vessels, bones, and connective tissue.
Even though parrots only need a small amount of zinc, it helps form insulin and allows vitamin A to function properly.
According to Environmental Contaminants in Biota, selenium’s a chemical compound boosts the immune system, growth, reproduction, and thyroid hormone production.
Parrots need iron because they use it to create hemoglobin, which carries oxygen around the body. Cashew nuts minimize the risk of anemia, preventing them from feeling weak and lethargic.
However, excessive iron can cause iron storage disease, which is a condition that causes excess iron to accumulate around the vital organs.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for the nerves and muscles. A 28.35 g serving of cashew nuts contains 82.8 mg of magnesium, which is more than spinach, cherries, and cauliflower.
Magnesium assists in the following ways:
- Bone development and growth
- Temperature regulation
- Seizure prevention
Magnesium deficiencies can lead to calcium deficiencies, so you must feed your parrot foods rich in this mineral to keep it healthy, especially for egg-laying females.
Manganese assists in the formation of healthy bones and eggshells. Female parrots need more manganese than males, allowing them to reproduce successfully.
Without sufficient manganese, parrots are at risk of the following problems:
- Perosis, which is characterized by physical deformities
- Poor muscle coordination
- Tarsometatarsal joint dislocation
Manganese is also found in bamboo, tea, seeds, whole grains, and leafy vegetables.
Phosphorus is found in a parrot’s bones, tissue, and teeth. It maintains healthy eggshells and improves bone formation. Phosphorus also assists in the following ways:
- Waste filtration
- Repairing tissue and cells
- Metabolizing fats and carbohydrates
- Allowing the body to use lipids and proteins
Vitamin K is one of the most vital vitamins for parrots, as it keeps the bones healthy and strong, reducing the probability of the following:
- Weak, brittle bones
- Breaks and fractures
- Heavy bleeding
Parrots spend most of their days perching, so weak bones make this more difficult.
Cashew nuts contain trace amounts of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), which can help parrots remain healthy. It turns carbs and proteins into energy, assisting birds to remain active throughout the day.
As Vitamin B-6 is water-soluble, parrots must eat foods that contain it daily.
A 28.35 g serving of cashew nuts contains 5.16 g of protein.
Parrots are omnivores, so they need protein to stay healthy. Amino acids are the body’s building blocks, forming strong muscles and vibrant feathers.
Protein should account for around 10-20% of a parrot’s diet.
Are Cashews Dangerous for Parrots?
Cashews aren’t toxic, but they should be consumed in moderation. Potential problems include:
Phytic acid is a natural substance in plant seeds, including cashew nuts. Unfortunately, it binds to certain essential minerals, hindering the absorption of the following:
Once this binding process occurs, the body can’t access the nutrients, contributing to mineral deficiencies.
Cashew nuts are high in fat, containing 12.4 g per 28.35 g.
Excess weight also puts much pressure on the legs and feet, making injuries much more likely.
Salted cashew nuts contain more sodium than is ideal. Parrots can’t excrete sodium like humans can, negatively affecting the body. Excess sodium causes:
Polydipsia is when a parrot develops an excessive, abnormal thirst after consuming too much salt.
After eating salty food, you’ll notice that your parrot drinks more water to flush out the sodium. That’s because the body needs to thin its blood to dilute the salt.
If your parrot has polydipsia, it likely has polyuria, where too much salt appears in the parrot’s urine once flushed from the body.
It’s normal for a parrot to have some salt in its urine, but too much causes it to stop going to the toilet as often as it should, affecting kidney function.
Nuts can be infected with aspergillus, a toxin derived from mold. This can cause parrots to develop aspergillosis, an infection characterized by:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
Raw cashew nuts can harbor aspergillus. If your parrot eats moldy nuts, its health will decline.
To check whether your cashew nuts are moldy and remove them:
- Cut each cashew in half. If you see any discoloration, throw it away.
- Wash the nuts under hot water to remove any hidden traces of mold.
- Only buy cashews from reputable sources, such as grocery stores.
Can Parrots Eat Raw Cashews?
Raw cashews are fine if they’re free from additives, oils, and other harmful ingredients. As mentioned, raw cashews carry the risk of mold, so inspect them before feeding them to parrots.
Can Parrots Eat Salted Cashews?
Parrots shouldn’t eat salted cashew nuts because too much sodium leads to excessive thirst and high blood pressure (hypertension).
Can Parrots Eat Chocolate Cashews?
Chocolate is one of the most toxic foods for parrots, as it contains theobromine. It stimulates the nervous system and heart, with life-threatening consequences. Chocolate is also harmful because it contains:
As long as you inspect each nut for signs of mold and offer them a few each week, plain cashew nuts (unsalted and unseasoned) are a healthy dietary addition for parrots.