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 keeps the beak healthy and provides enrichment.
When diced or cut into bite-sized chunks, coconut is good for parrots. It’s high in calcium, fiber, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. However, coconut is also high in fat and calories.
Also, desiccated coconut must be avoided as it swells in the stomach.
If you want to feed coconut-based foods to a parrot, check the ingredients to ensure there aren’t any unhealthy added ingredients, including 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 essential nutrients to stay healthy.
Other coconut varieties, including coconut flakes and shredded coconut, are okay for parrots. However, they don’t have as much nutritional value as fresh coconut.
Coconut Nutritional Information
Coconuts (Coco nucifera) are 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 contains nutrients that parrots need to stay healthy, including the following:
85 g of fresh coconut contains 11.9 g of calcium. While not as high as kiwis, coconut can increase a 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.
To absorb calcium, parrots must be exposed to sunlight to synthesize vitamin D3.
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.
Phosphorus is important for the following reasons:
- 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 works with sodium to regulate nerve signals, muscle contractions, and fluid balance.
Potassium is involved in nerve impulses, facilitating muscle function and coordination. Also, when a parrot sustains a cut, potassium assists 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 storage within the bones. When parrots can’t absorb calcium, their bones become weak and brittle, increasing the risk of fractures.
It’s also essential for nerve and muscle function, bone development, digestion, and reproduction.
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 them tired and weak.
However, too much iron causes iron storage disease, which is where iron accumulates around the vital organs, preventing them from functioning properly.
Coconut oil contains the following medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs):
- Lauric acid: Used for fighting pathogens like bacteria and yeasts.
- Caprylic acid: Helps 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 normal bodily functions. According to 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.
Although coconut is high in essential minerals, it’s lower in certain vitamins than other fruits, such as mango and oranges. 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 the coconut milk’s juiciness, enabling them to hydrate while enjoying a tasty treat.
When feeding a parrot coconut chunks, remove all pieces of the dried shell to prevent digestive problems. Also, small, sharp pieces may scratch and irritate the throat lining.
Shredded coconut describes grated pieces of coconut 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.
Desiccated coconut is a dried-out form of shredded coconut unsafe for parrots.
When consumed, desiccated coconut rehydrates and expands in the stomach. Depending on how much desiccated coconut a parrot eats, it can cause digestive discomfort and bloating.
All brands of coconut jelly are okay 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 lactose.
Coconut jelly can be fed to parrots as an occasional treat.
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 a good option for parrots who are calcium deficient or dislike drinking water.
Coconut cream is too thick and rich for parrots, meaning 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 deal with beak damage.
Coconut oil can treat various skin problems, including dry 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 it 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, perhaps as a treat or training reward.