Parrots like the taste of coconut as it has a rich yet subtle flavor. Also, coconut flesh (meat) has an enticing scent with a chewy texture that can keep the beak healthy and provide enrichment.
When diced or cut into bite-sized chunks, coconut is a healthy snack for parrots. It’s high in calcium, dietary fiber, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and fatty acids. However, coconut is high in fat and calories. Desiccated coconut must be avoided as it swells in the stomach.
If you want to feed coconut-based foods to your parrot, check the ingredients to ensure that there aren’t any unhealthy added ingredients, such as sugar, sweeteners, colorings, and flavorings.
Can Parrots Eat Coconut?
While desiccated coconut and coconut cream are unsuitable, fresh coconut meat and coconut milk provide parrots with a range of essential nutrients needed to stay healthy.
Other coconut varieties are okay for your parrot to eat, including coconut flakes and shredded coconut. However, they don’t have as much nutritional value as feeding a parrot fresh coconut.
Coconut Nutritional Information
According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, one cup of fresh coconut (85 g) contains:
|Nutrient of Mineral||Amount|
|Vitamin C||2.8 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.17 µg|
|Fatty Acids||25.2 g|
Is Coconut Good For Parrots?
Coconut contains nutrients and minerals that parrots need to stay healthy, including:
|Calcium:||It keeps bones strong and healthy while improving muscle health.|
|Fiber:||Healthy gut health and digestion, resulting in more regular bowel movements.|
|Phosphorus:||Filters waste, repairs tissue and cells, and creates energy.|
|Potassium:||It helps muscles and bones grow properly and clots the blood.|
|Magnesium:||It helps the body absorb calcium and optimizes nerve and muscle function.|
|Iron:||Allows the blood to carry oxygen around the body, preventing anemia.|
|Fatty Acids:||It helps with bacteria, viral, and yeast infections. It also helps balance insulin levels.|
|Protein:||Builds muscle tissue, improves brain health, and produces healthy blood cells.|
85 g of fresh coconut contains 11.9 g of calcium. While not as high as kiwis and other fruits, coconut can increase your parrot’s calcium levels.
Calcium is essential for the following:
- Building strong bones
- Maintaining healthy eggshells
- Reducing the risk of chick mortality
- Preventing hypocalcemia (low calcium)
- Stopping parrots from plucking their feathers out
- Reducing the risk of heart disorders
- Lowering cholesterol
- Preventing muscle pain and contractions
- Improving balance and coordination
Adding coconut as a weekly treat can reduce the risk of harmful conditions.
Parrots need roughage in their diets to aid the digestive process. Fiber keeps the gut working healthily, softening stools and preventing constipation.
Also, fiber fills parrots up, preventing them from getting hungry and overeating.
Phosphorous is found in the bones, teeth, body fluids, and soft tissue.
Phosphorus is important for the following reasons:
- Keeps egg shells strong and healthy
- Improves bone formation
- Metabolizes fats and carbs
- Allows the body to use proteins and lipids properly
- Filters waste
- Repairs tissue and cells
However, too much phosphorous causes diarrhea and calcification of the organs and soft tissue. Also, it interferes with the body’s ability to utilize iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
Potassium ensures the bones and muscles grow properly, assisting with blood clotting.
When a parrot cuts itself, potassium reduces blood flow, reducing blood loss. Parrots that lack potassium in their bodies will continuously bleed.
Potassium works with sodium to regulate nerve signals, muscle contractions, and fluid balance. At 303 mg per 85 g, fresh coconut is a rich potassium source, matching the potassium levels of peppers.
There’s 27.2 mg of magnesium in an 85 g portion of fresh coconut.
Magnesium assists with calcium absorption. When parrots cannot do this, their bones become brittle, and the risk of rickets increases.
Fresh coconut contains 2.07 mg of iron.
Iron creates hemoglobin, which allows the blood to carry oxygen around the body. Parrots lacking in iron are at risk of anemia, a condition that makes parrots feel tired, lethargic, and weak.
However, too much iron causes iron storage disease, which is where iron accumulates around the organs, preventing them from functioning properly.
Unfortunately, symptoms of iron storage disease only show when the condition is in the advanced stages.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), including:
- Lauric acid: Treats viral infections and fights pathogens, including bacteria and yeasts.
- Caprylic acid: Helps treat digestive disorders, yeast infections, and skin disorders.
- Capric acid: Regulates cholesterol and balances insulin levels.
As described by Scientific Reports, birds oxidize fatty acids to fuel their migratory movements, giving them the necessary energy for flying long distances.
Is Coconut Bad for Parrots?
There are some negatives to feeding coconut to parrots, including the following:
High Fat Content
A parrot’s natural diet is low in saturated fat, so feeding them too much coconut can affect their normal bodily functions. As described by MSD Veterinary Manual, a high-fat diet is linked to obesity.
Excessive saturated fat is associated with the following conditions:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Fatty liver disease
- Reproductive failure
- Joint problems
Captive parrots don’t move around as much as wild parrots, so they can become overweight.
Low Vitamin Content
Types of Coconut for Parrots
Let’s look at what types of coconut are healthy and unhealthy:
Raw coconut is packed with nutrients and is free from added colors and preservatives. Parrots enjoy the coconut milk’s juiciness, enabling them to hydrate while enjoying a tasty treat.
When feeding your parrot coconut chunks, ensure that all pieces of the dried shell are removed to prevent digestive problems. Also, small, sharp pieces may scratch and irritate the throat.
Desiccated coconut is a dried-out form of shredded coconut. It’s unsafe for parrots.
When consumed, desiccated coconut rehydrates and expands in the parrot’s stomach. Depending on the amount of desiccated coconut your parrot eats, it can cause discomfort and bloating.
While coconut flakes contain all the healthy parts of fresh, raw coconut, they also contain saturated fat and have a high calorie content.
You can add coconut flakes to a seed and nut mix to boost the nutritional value.
Shredded coconut describes grated pieces of coconut that come in long strands. They’re dried out, but they retain more moisture than desiccated coconut.
According to SF Gate, a standard cup of shredded coconut contains 4 grams of dietary fiber.
Coconut jelly can be fed to parrots as an occasional treat. All brands of coconut jelly are fine, as long as they contain wholesome ingredients.
Coconut jelly isn’t as high in nutrients as coconut meat. However, it’s healthier than coconut yogurt because it contains no undigestible lactose.
Yogurt is derived from milk, and parrots lack the enzymes needed to break down lactose. While lactose is non-toxic, it can upset your parrot’s stomach and make it sick.
Coconut milk doesn’t contain lactose, so it’s safe for parrots to drink.
Milk comes from the meat of the coconut, so it’s very hydrating. It’s an excellent source of calcium, so it’s a good option for parrots who are calcium deficient or dislike drinking water.
You can put coconut milk in a shallow bowl for your parrot to drink.
Coconut cream is too thick and rich for parrots, so they won’t enjoy the taste or consistency. Also, coconut cream is high in saturated fat and calories.
Coconut oil can treat various ailments, including skin and feather problems. Instead of suet, you can use it to bind seeds and nuts together to create a hanging treat.
Parrots’ beaks are made from keratin, and their beaks can become dry, brittle, and cracked. Coconut oil can be applied directly to a parrot’s beak to soothe beak damage.
Coconut oil is good for treating a range of parrots’ skin problems, like dry or irritated skin.
How To Feed Coconut To Parrots
Cut fresh coconut into bite-sized chunks and place them in a small bowl for your parrot to pick out.
Sprinkle flakes or shredded coconut on your parrot’s pellets. If you’re feeding it a fruit medley, coconut pieces make a good accompaniment, providing essential nutrients.
While coconut isn’t the healthiest fruit for parrots, it has health benefits. Be mindful of how much you’re feeding your parrot, as too much can cause weight gain and vitamin deficiencies.