what nuts are safe for parrots?

Can Parrots Eat Nuts?

In the wild, parrots rely on nuts to supplement their diet with protein, fats, and vitamins. However, for a domestic parrot, you may be concerned about the fat content. There’s also the issue of salted, oil-roasted, or flavored nuts. Before you incorporate these crunchy treats into your parrot’s diet, be sure to check out what types of nuts are safe.

Parrots can eat nuts that are unsalted and dry-roasted without added ingredients. The best nuts for parrots include pine nuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, brazil nuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts. You can feed parrots peanuts (monkey nuts), but only once they’ve been roasted. Raw peanuts shouldn’t be offered to parrots due to the presence of Aflatoxin. Most nuts contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, proteins, antioxidants, and healthy fats.

Some nuts have a higher chance of harboring mold or triggering allergies in parrots. Avoid giving your parrot unshelled nuts unless you’re certain that they’re clean. Only get them from reputable sources and closely inspect any with a cracked shell for signs of mold.

Are Nuts Healthy For Parrots?

Nuts are good for parrots and are a natural part of their diet in the wild. Parrots are found in habitats all across the southern hemisphere, from Central and South America to Australia. Here, they forage for:

  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts

They can be found in ample supply in these regions. Since parrots aren’t natural hunters, they rely on these easy-to-find supplies of food. A solid cache of nuts can provide a flock of parrots a massive dose of:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Copper
  • Antioxidants
  • Magnesium
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin E

Parrots are capable of flying great distances, so that’s a valuable source of energy. It also helps keep their beaks strong, their feathers long and colorful, and their intelligent brains sharp. As a bonus, cracking the hard outer shells of nuts provides the birds with enrichment and entertainment.

If you want to keep your parrot healthy and active, it pays to incorporate nuts into its diet. That will help it enjoy a lifestyle that’s much closer to what it’d find in the wild.

Are Nuts Dangerous For Parrots?

Most nuts are neither dangerous nor toxic to parrots. However, your parrot will probably not be foraging for nuts from natural sources in an untouched habitat.

They will be eating store-bought nuts, which may be salted or roasted with oils and added flavorings. The nuts may also be grown improperly and contaminated by outside forces. Before you feed your parrot nuts, let’s explore some of the risks below.

can parrots eat monkey nuts?

Additives

Parrots should not be given salted nuts, nuts roasted in oil, or nuts with added flavorings. This has a chance of overdosing them on:

  • Sodium
  • Fats
  • Synthetic ingredients that they can’t digest

Because of that, it’s always wise to give your parrot nuts that are natural and plain. Dry-roasted, unsalted nuts will be ideal.

Aspergillosis

Nuts can be infected with a toxin called aspergillus, which is derived from certain types of mold and other fungi. This can impact a parrot’s health by causing it to develop aspergillosis. This is a type of infection that’s characterized by:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever

The aspergillus mold is naturally found in the great outdoors. In fact, you may have encountered it once or twice. To most people, our immune systems can handle the effect mold has on our bodies. However, to the smaller body of a parrot, it can be a huge problem, especially when ingested in large amounts.

This makes nuts dangerous because lethal quantities of these molds can grow inside nuts. Thanks to the shell, it can be hard to determine whether or not a nut is moldy. When your bird has eaten enough moldy nuts, it will cause the parrot’s health to decline very quickly, for seemingly no reason. That makes it very important to:

  • Crack any nuts before feeding them to the parrot, especially peanuts.
  • Wash all nuts under hot water and with soap to remove any possible traces of mold.
  • Buy peanuts from reputable sources, such as grocery stores, rather than from around your neighborhood. This will ensure they’re FDA-approved and safe.

Allergies

While it may sound silly, your bird can be allergic to certain foods. This can include peanuts but may also crop up with nuts such as almonds or walnuts. While rare, these allergies can have dangerous effects on your bird. Common allergic reactions in parrots include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Swollen eyes
  • Eye discharge
  • Sneezing or wheezing when they come into contact with the source of their allergies

Your bird will naturally avoid the reason for their allergies, so it’s best to keep an eye on your parrot’s reaction. If it seems to ignore the nuts in its food bowl, this may be the cause.

If you suspect that your bird is allergic to a substance, it’s advisable to contact a vet. This will rule out any more serious reasons for your bird’s symptoms, like infections.

What Nuts Are Safe For Parrots

Most nuts are safe for parrots to eat. Only a minor few contain any toxins or dangerous compounds that may be harmful to parrots. With that said, poison isn’t the only concern. Nuts can be high in fat and sodium, which are the real danger to parrots.

Let’s explore all the nuts you can feed to your parrot. We’ll uncover their health benefits, cautionary notes, and unique perks your parrot might enjoy about them.

Can You Feed Parrots Almonds?

Almonds are perhaps the best nut to feed your parrot. Not only are they easy to find in stores, but they also have the widest range of health benefits for your pet. Almonds have the highest amounts of:

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Dietary fiber

On top of that, almonds have an excellent dose of healthy fat, specifically omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential acids that play many roles in a parrot’s body, such as:

  • Preventing heart disease
  • Reducing the chances of stroke
  • Helping to control arthritis
  • Lowering the risk of atherosclerosis

Can Parrots Eat Bitter Almonds?

On the other hand, not all almonds are created equal. Two types are harvested from two different tree species:

  • Sweet almonds
  • Bitter almonds

Sweet almonds are safe for your parrot to eat. On the flipside, bitter almonds are toxic to both parrots and humans when eaten raw. That’s because they contain a substance called glycoside amygdalin.

While this sounds scary, don’t worry about bitter almonds unless you’re outside the U.S. Because of their toxicity, bitter almonds are banned for sale inside the U.S. However, in most European countries, they can still be found for sale as they can be cooked to remove toxins.

Unless you are experienced in cooking bitter almonds, it’s best to swerve around them. It’s a complicated process, and doing it incorrectly may damage your parrot’s health.

Can Parrots Have Macadamia Nuts?

Macadamia nuts are safe for parrots to eat. However, they may not be the best choice of nut for your parrot. Macadamia nuts have the highest amount of fat per nut and the lowest amount of protein. While they’re still a good treat, this makes them less nutritious for your parrot.

With that said, macadamia nuts aren’t completely unhealthy. They may have low protein levels in contrast to other nuts, but that amount is still significant. For 3 ounces of macadamia nuts, your parrot will receive 7 grams of protein. Macadamia nuts are also chock-full of vitamin B6, which can help your parrot:

  • Metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
  • Create red blood cells
  • Renew neurotransmitters

These nuts are also full minerals such as:

  • Manganese
  • Thiamine
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

It’s best to feed macadamia nuts raw to your parrot. You should always avoid fried and salted nuts. Not only can this add more fat to an already fatty nut, but too much sodium can lead to dehydration. In severe cases, it can even result in kidney failure.

Can Parrots Eat Cashew Nuts?

Of all parrot-safe nuts, cashews have the highest amounts of zinc and copper. That’s extremely helpful in your parrot’s ability to create blood, absorb nutrients, and enjoy quality eye health. Aside from that, cashews are also full of minerals such as:

  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus

That’s matched to vitamins, since these curled nuts have high amounts of:

  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B6

Cashews have been linked to lower levels of cardiovascular disorders, such as stroke and heart disease. In fact, according to BMC Medicine, cashews also help to reduce cancer and improve the survival rate of those with:

  • Respiratory diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Infections

Are Cashews Too Oily For Parrots?

While this nut is healthy and safe for parrots, you may be concerned with how oily it seems. The oil content of your parrot’s food is something to consider. However, cashews contain healthy oils, not the greasy additives you find on roasted or fried foods. These healthy oils are a product of the vitamins and minerals present in the nut itself.

With that said, you should only give cashews to your parrot in moderate amounts. They can be offered in their raw, unsalted form. You can also soak cashew nuts in water to reduce the amount of phytic acid in them. This will help your bird digest them more easily and improve the health benefits.

Can Parrots Eat Monkey Nuts?

Also known as peanuts, monkey nuts are among the most common types of nuts sold in stores. Peanuts can be a healthy treat for parrots, but they shouldn’t be offered to your parrot raw (uncooked).

This is due to the presence of Aflatoxin, which is toxic to the liver. Roasting peanuts significantly reduces the amount of Aflatoxin, but peanuts should still be offered in moderation, as it doesn’t remove the presence entirely.

Peanuts also have a higher chance of harboring mold compared to other nuts. This can lead to aspergillosis. According to an article published in Mycopathologia, aspergillosis can also be derived from other nuts, not just peanuts. However, peanuts are at a higher risk of carrying them as they grow underground.

It’s wise to shell, clean, and roast any peanuts before offering them to your parrot. Once they’re properly sanitized and roasted, your parrot will benefit from:

  • Magnesium
  • Protein
  • B vitamins
  • Fats
  • Phosphorous
  • Fiber
  • Potassium

Keep in mind that peanuts are high in calories and can lead to obesity in parrots. They may be low in carbs, but they should be fed to your parrot in moderation. 3-5 peanuts once or twice a week will suffice.

Can Parrots Eat Brazil Nuts?

Despite its name, this tree nut does not just come from Brazil. It also hails from Bolivia and Peru. This nut is known for its buttery texture, so it can remain tasty even when eaten raw or bland. What’s more, Brazil nuts are safe to feed to your parrot. Your bird may even prefer its robust taste and silky exterior over other nuts.

Brazil nuts are good for parrots. Of any nut on this list, they contain the highest levels of magnesium. This plays an important role in:

  • Creating energy for the body
  • Developing proteins
  • Repairing DNA and RNA genes
  • Keeping the nerves and muscles healthy

Alongside that, Brazil nuts are one of the most concentrated dietary sources of selenium. This is an antioxidant responsible for boosting a parrot’s metabolism and maintaining a healthy thyroid.

A healthy metabolism helps to prevent digestive issues and improves the way your parrot absorbs nutrients. This is also credit to the thyroid, which takes on a second role of improving a parrot’s growth and development.

In fact, the thyroid contains the most amount of selenium of any part of the body. This is supported by an article published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Alack of selenium has been linked to higher risks of hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroiditis.

Can Parrots Eat Walnuts?

Walnuts are sweet and buttery in texture, found in many desserts or beverages. If they’re bland and unsalted, they’re a healthy addition to your parrot’s diet. Walnuts come in many forms. All are OK for parrots to eat and share the same amount of vitamins and minerals. With a walnut or two, your parrot can enjoy:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B9
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus

As a bonus, walnuts are also full of antioxidants. These antioxidants come in the form of plant compounds, most concentrated in the walnut’s brown skin. They include:

  • Ellagic acid
  • Catechin
  • Melatonin
  • Phytic acid

All of these are known to lower the risk of diseases related to aging. They can also help your parrot enjoy a more balanced system. With a few walnuts, your bird will absorb nutrients more effectively and be able to maintain a more balanced sleep cycle.

Walnuts also have the highest amounts of omega-3 compared to every other nut. Specifically, that’s 2.5 grams of omega-3 per 1 ounce of walnuts. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the type of omega-3 found in walnuts lowers the risk of mortality from heart disease by 10%.

can parrots have hazelnuts?

Can Parrots Eat Pine Nuts?

Parrots can safely eat pine nuts, just like most tree nuts. In the wild, these are primary sources of fat and protein, especially for species like the thick-billed parrot. These slim nuts are also an excellent source of:

  • Vitamin E
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin K
  • Fiber

This can aid in your parrot’s digestion, strengthen its bones, and improve the vibrancy of its feathers. Just keep in mind that these nuts are high in fat and calories. You should give them very sparingly to your bird, even if it loves the taste.

Can Parrots Eat Hazelnuts?

Also known as the filbert, hazelnuts have a sweet flavor. They’re mostly incorporated as a flavoring in beverages and desserts but can be eaten straight. These nuts have a high amount of vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B6
  • Thiamin
  • Folate
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc

Hazelnuts do have a high calorie count. It’s important to reserve these as a treat and feed your parrot in moderation. However, those treats will pack a punch. These nuts have an impressive amount of:

  • Fiber
  • Carbohydrate
  • Protein
  • Antioxidants

Are Hazelnuts The Best Nuts For Parrots?

Some owners swear that hazelnuts are the first and only choice for parrots. While there’s no point in eliminating the other nuts as parrots like variety, hazelnuts are a great option.

In particular, antioxidants fight oxidative stress, which has been linked to cell damage. Oxidative stress can cause aging, cancer, heart diseases, and other forms of diseases.

According to an article published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, hazelnuts have been linked to lower levels of oxidative stress. Specifically, the study determined that a higher level of hazelnut consumption lessened the damage on DNA in the observed patients.

That makes them a great choice for parrots that are aging or repairing their immune system. Likewise, if you’ve recently adopted a malnourished parrot, hazelnuts can help them regain weight and improve their health. As long as the nuts are given in appropriate amounts, the high calorie amount can actually be advantageous.

Always feed raw hazelnuts to your parrot. Roasted is a popular choice for human consumption. However, this can damage the health benefits or introduce new ingredients that won’t help your parrot. Antioxidants present in hazelnuts are also largely concentrated on its skin. Roasting has been shown to lower the levels of antioxidants.

How Many Nuts Should You Feed Your Parrot?

Parrots can be given 2-3 nuts a day, depending on their level of activity. This can be reduced to 2-3 nuts for older or more sedentary parrots 3-4 times a week.

The high fat content, calories, and natural oils will be helpful to your bird in moderation. However, if it’s overfed nuts, you may find your parrot:

  • Refusing to eat other food
  • Becoming overweight
  • Getting lethargic and ill-tempered

If you want to give your parrot a larger amount of nuts, then be sure to pick leaner varieties. The less fatty or calorie-heavy the nut is, the more safely your parrot can eat it in large amounts.  

Can Parrots Eat Unshelled Nuts?

To be safe, avoid giving your parrot unshelled nuts. The shell itself will not be a danger. It’s the mold that may exist within. Parrots are fully capable of tearing apart the thicker shells of walnuts or the softer shells of peanuts. In fact, this process will be very entertaining and serve as enrichment.

However, there are dangers to consider. Mold can more easily hide within an unshelled nut. You will not be aware the nut is contaminated until the shell is opened and your parrot has already eaten it. Because of this, it’s wise to shell any nuts before giving them to your parrot. For denser nuts, like hazelnuts or walnuts, the bird will still enjoy gnawing through the nut itself.

With that said, if your heart is set on giving your bird an unshelled nut as a toy, it can be done. Just be sure to source the nuts from reputable sources with strict health and safety guidelines. There is still a chance of a contaminated nut reaching your bird, but one instance should not seriously harm it. The real danger comes with repeated exposure.

You should also be suspicious of any cracks in the shells. This means the nuts have been exposed to moisture and air. This can raise the chances of mold growth.

Parrots can safely eat most nuts. Just be sure they’re properly cleaned, preferably shelled, and given to your parrot raw. It will enjoy a boost of vitamins, minerals, and flavors.