Last Updated on: 27th September 2023, 08:47 am
Parrots like the taste of coconut due to its rich yet subtle flavor. Also, coconut flesh (meat) has an enticing scent with a chewy texture that provides enrichment and keeps the beak healthy.
When diced or cut into bite-sized chunks, coconut is suitable for parrots. It’s high in calcium, fiber, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.
Coconut is high in saturated fats and calories, so sedentary birds shouldn’t eat it excessively. Also, desiccated coconut shouldn’t be fed to parrots because it swells in the stomach.
If you want to feed coconut-based foods to parrots, check the ingredients list to ensure no added ingredients (sugar, sweeteners, colorings, flavorings, and preservatives).
Can Parrots Eat Coconut?
While desiccated coconut and coconut cream are unsuitable, fresh coconut meat and coconut milk provide parrots with the nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy.
Other coconut varieties, including coconut flakes and shredded coconut, are okay for parrots. However, they don’t have the same nutritional value as fresh coconut.
Coconut Nutritional Information
Coconut (Coco nucifera) is a fruit (one-seeded drupe) from the palm tree family. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of fresh coconut (85 g) has the following nutrients:
|Vitamin C||2.8 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.17 µg|
|Medium-chain triglycerides||25.2 g|
Is Coconut Good for Parrots?
Coconut has nutrients that parrots need as part of a balanced diet, including the following:
- Strong bones.
- Healthy eggshells.
- Reduced chick mortality risk.
- Preventing hypocalcemia (low calcium).
- Fewer stereoptypies, like feather plucking.
- Lower risk of heart disorders.
- Reduced cholesterol.
- Less muscle pain and contractions.
- Balance and coordination.
To absorb calcium, parrots must be exposed to sunlight to synthesize vitamin D3.
Also, fiber fills parrots up, preventing them from getting hungry and overeating.
Phosphorus is vital for the following reasons:
- It keeps eggshells strong and healthy.
- Improves bone formation.
- Metabolic processes.
- Energy production.
- Repairs tissue and cells.
Too much phosphorous can interfere with iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc utilization. Parrots should always consume more calcium than phosphorus, especially breeding birds, who need a 3:1 ratio.
At 303 mg per 85 g, fresh coconut is a good potassium source, similar to peppers. Potassium combines with sodium to regulate nerve signals, muscle contractions, and fluid balance.
Potassium is involved in nerve impulses, assisting with muscle function and coordination. Also, when a parrot sustains a cut, potassium helps with blood clotting, reducing blood loss.
There’s 27.2 mg of magnesium in an 85 g portion of coconut.
Magnesium assists with calcium absorption and mineralization of the bones. When parrots can’t absorb calcium, their bones become weak and brittle, increasing the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures.
Magnesium is also needed for nerve and muscle function, bones, digestion, and reproduction.
Fresh coconut contains 2.07 mg of iron. Iron creates hemoglobin, which allows blood to carry oxygen around the body. Parrots that lack iron are at risk of anemia, making them tired and weak.
Unfortunately, excessive iron can cause iron storage disease, where iron accumulates around the vital organs, preventing them from functioning properly with dire health consequences.
Coconut oil contains the following medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs):
- Lauric acid: Used for fighting pathogens like bacteria and yeast.
- Caprylic acid: Assists with 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 and stamina for flying long distances.
Is Coconut Bad for Parrots?
A parrot’s natural diet is low in saturated fat, so feeding them too much coconut can affect their weight and bodily functions. Excessive saturated fat is correlated to the following conditions:
- Heart disease.
- High cholesterol.
- Fatty liver disease.
- Reproductive failure.
- Joint problems.
Captive parrots don’t move and fly as much as wild parrots, becoming overweight.
Although coconut is high in minerals, it’s lower in specific vitamins than fruits like mango. For example, a cup of coconut contains no vitamins A or B6.
Different Types of Coconut for Parrots
Here are the types of coconut that are healthy and unhealthy:
Raw coconut is a good nutrient source and free from additives and preservatives. Parrots enjoy coconut milk’s juiciness, enabling them to hydrate while eating.
When feeding a parrot coconut chunks, remove all pieces of the dried shell to prevent digestive discomfort. Also, small, sharp shell pieces may scratch or irritate the throat lining.
Shredded coconut is grated pieces of coconut in long strands. They’re dried out but retain more moisture than desiccated coconut. A standard cup of shredded coconut contains 4 grams of dietary fiber.
Desiccated coconut is a dried-out shredded coconut that’s unsafe for parrots.
When consumed, desiccated coconut rehydrates and expands in the stomach. Depending on the amount of desiccated coconut a parrot eats, it can cause digestive discomfort and bloating.
Coconut jelly is okay as long as it has wholesome ingredients. It isn’t as high in nutrients as coconut meat, but it’s better than coconut yogurt because it contains no lactose.
Yogurt is derived from milk, and parrots lack the enzyme (lactase) needed to break down lactose. While lactose is non-toxic, it can upset a parrot’s stomach and cause digestive distress.
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 good for parrots who are calcium deficient or are reluctant to drink water.
Coconut cream is too thick and rich for parrots, meaning they won’t enjoy the taste or consistency. Also, coconut cream contains saturated fat and is high in calories.
Coconut oil can assist with 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 beta-keratin, which can become dry, brittle, and cracked. Coconut oil can be applied directly to minimize beak damage.
Coconut oil is also beneficial for dry, cracked, and irritated skin.
How To Feed Coconut To Parrots
Cut coconut into bite-sized chunks and place them in a small bowl for the parrot to pick out.
Sprinkle flakes or shredded coconut on the parrot’s pellets. If you’re feeding a parrot a fruit medley, coconut pieces make a good accompaniment, providing essential nutrients.
While coconut isn’t the healthiest fruit for parrots, it has benefits. So, you can safely feed raw coconut to parrots in moderation once or twice a week as a treat or training reward.