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what nuts are safe for parrots?

Can Parrots Eat Nuts? (The Hidden Dangers Revealed!)

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Parrots can eat nuts, but some types are healthier and more nutritious than others.

The best nuts for parrots are pine, almonds, macadamia, cashews, Brazil, walnuts, and hazelnuts. You can feed parrots peanuts (monkey nuts) if they’re fresh, human-grade, and roasted.

Some nuts are more likely than others to harbor mold or trigger allergies. Avoid feeding parrots unshelled nuts unless you’re sure they’re undamaged, clean, and mold-free.

Benefits of Nuts for Parrots

A cache of nuts can provide a flock of parrots with:

  • Protein.
  • Fat.
  • Fiber.
  • Antioxidants.
  • Vitamins B and E.
  • Copper.
  • Selenium.
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium.
  • Potassium.

Parrots fly significant distances, so nuts are a valuable energy source. Also, cracking the outer shells of nuts keeps parrots’ beaks worn down to the right level.

can parrots eat monkey nuts?

Dangers of Nuts for Parrots

Before you feed a parrot nuts, make yourself aware of the risks:

Additives and Flavorings

Parrots shouldn’t be fed nuts that are salted, roasted in oil, or have added flavorings. This includes:

  • Salt (sodium).
  • Hydrogenated oils.
  • Spices.
  • Sugar.
  • Chocolate.

Only give parrots dry-roasted, unsalted, and unseasoned nuts.

High in Fat

Nuts are nutrient-dense, but they’re also high in fat and calories. Parrots aren’t as active in captivity as in the wild, so pet birds can gain weight if they eat too many nuts.

Aspergillosis

Nuts can contain Aspergillus, which is caused by mold. This can lead to aspergillosis, a fungal infection that manifests the following health symptoms:

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

Mold can grow inside nuts. Due to the shell, it can be hard to determine whether a nut is moldy. Before offering nuts to a parrot, take the following measures:

  • Buy human-grade peanuts from reputable sources, like grocery stores.
  • Check the sell-by date on the packaging.
  • Crack open and check the nuts, especially peanuts.
  • Wash the nuts under hot water to remove non-visible traces of mold.

These simple steps will minimize the likelihood of nuts containing Aspergillus.

Nut Allergies

Although rare, allergic reactions include:

  • Itchy skin.
  • Swollen eyes.
  • Eye discharge.
  • Sneezing or wheezing.

If a parrot experiences anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction), vet assistance must be sought.

Parrot-Safe Nuts

If parrots consume nuts in the wild, we can assume they’re okay for our pets. However, some nuts are better and safer for parrots than others.

Almonds (Prunus Dulcis)

Almonds are available in two forms, but parrots should only be offered sweet almonds.

According to ISRN Toxicology, bitter almonds contain glycoside amygdalin, which converts to cyanide in the body. However, bitter almonds are prohibited by law in the U.S.

Despite being high in fat, it’s mostly monounsaturated fat. This is good for the heart because it maintains density-lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) levels.

Almonds are a good source of fiber. This adds bulk to the stool, making it easier to pass waste. This keeps the digestive tract healthy, minimizing the risk of constipation.

Almonds are a good source of calcium essential for bones, eggs, and nerve function. If you have an egg-laying female, this reduces the risk of becoming egg-bound (dystocia).

Brazil Nuts (Bertholletia Excelsa)

Brazil nuts are widely considered a superfood because they’re high in selenium, a mineral with antioxidant qualities. They’re also an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (healthy) fats.

Selenium is crucial for hormone production and preventing thyroid problems. It can also result in superior sleep, an upbeat mood, and mental focus.

Selenium is broken down in the liver to create selenoprotein P (a type of protein), which removes free radicals and reduces oxidative stress.

Brazil nuts should be purchased unshelled. The sale of shelled Brazil nuts is banned in many countries due to concerns over the shell’s carcinogenic properties.

Cashews (Anacardium Occidentale)

Cashews are high in copper, phosphorus, and magnesium, which are needed for strong and healthy bones. Low bone mineral density increases the risk of degenerative joint conditions.

The iron and copper also keeps red blood cells and the immune system healthy.

The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in cashews can reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing the likelihood of heart attacks and stroke.

Cashew nuts have been used to produce dairy alternatives. As parrots lack the enzyme lactase, they find it hard to digest lactose, so cashew milk is a bird-safe option.

Raw cashews contain a toxic organic compound called urushiol (found in the family of Anacardiaceae trees), so only roasted cashews should be fed to parrots.

The cashews marked as raw in grocery stores will have been steamed, as this process removes urushiol to ensure their safety for humans and animals.

Hazelnuts (Corylus Avellana)

Most parrots enjoy crunching through the tough shells of hazelnuts.

Hazelnuts contain phenolic compounds, which are beneficial for reducing blood cholesterol and inflammation. Most of the antioxidants are found in the skin.

Hazelnut consumption can reduce blood sugar levels. Although uncommon in psittacine birds, lower blood sugar and insulin levels reduce the risk of getting Diabetes mellitus.

Hazelnuts contain tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that produces serotonin. This can improve negative behavior and reduce the risk of depression.

Monkey Nuts and Peanuts (Arachis Hypogaea)

Peanuts are legumes from the plant family Leguminosae, the same family as lentils, beans, and peas. Consequently, the nutritional value of monkey nuts differs starkly from nuts.

Peanuts are a good source of B vitamins, especially thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, and folate. They also contain minerals like magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and manganese.

They’re also rich in antioxidants, such as phenolic acids and flavonoids. Monkey nuts are an anti-inflammatory, minimizing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Peanuts grow below ground level, making them vulnerable to mold. If you observe moldy or discolored monkey nuts, avoid offering them to pet birds to prevent exposure to Aflatoxin.

If you buy human-grade peanuts, they must meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards. However, it’s recommended that you inspect each peanut as a precaution.

Also, store them in a sealed container in a cool and dry location to avoid moisture.

Pine Nuts (Pinus Edulis)

Pine nuts (pignoli) are the seeds of pine cones.

They can be beneficial if a parrot’s cholesterol levels are too high. They’re a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and pinolenic acid for improved cardiovascular health.

If a parrot’s energy levels are low, the vitamin B5 (a water-soluble vitamin) in pine nuts helps convert fat and carbohydrates into energy. If a parrot sustains a cut, the vitamin K assists with blood clotting.

The journal Antioxidants stated that pine nuts improve blood flow to the brain and cognitive function.

Pistachios (Pistacia Vera)

The green and purple color gives pistachios their antioxidant properties (lutein and zeaxanthin), reducing the effects of oxidative stress. Only walnuts and pecans contain more antioxidants.

The fiber found in pistachios acts as a prebiotic, as good bacteria break them down. This helps dietary fiber to move fluidly through the digestive tract before being passed as waste.

Lutein, beta-carotene, and tocopherols may reduce inflammation.

Walnuts (Juglans Regia)

Large parrots love walnuts because they enjoy cracking through the tough shell to reach the reward. Walnuts are high in protein, so they make a nutritious treat.

Walnuts contain polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Walnut oil assists with endothelial function, lowering cholesterol and inflammation markers.

They contain phytochemicals, which are necessary for brain function and health. Also, omega-3 fatty acids reduce oxidative stress in the brain.

Avoid offering black walnuts to parrots because the shells may contain tannins and mold.

Shelled vs. Unshelled Nuts

Deciding whether to shell nuts depends on the parrot’s size. Large parrots with powerful beaks may enjoy the challenge of breaking open a nutshell, so the snack doubles up as food and enrichment.

Be mindful of offering shelled nuts to small parrots. It may swallow the nut whole if it can’t open a shell. Birds can’t digest nutshells, and the shell may form an intestinal blockage.

can parrots have hazelnuts?

Feeding Nuts To Baby Parrots

A baby parrot’s beak won’t be fully formed, so it’ll lack the strength to crack open a shell. Also, a nut as small as a peanut may be a choking hazard.

Baby parrots can eat nuts with appropriate care. As a precaution, chop the nuts into smaller pieces.

How To Feed Nuts To Parrots

You can offer nuts to parrots as a training reward or an occasional treat.

Placing a selection of nuts in a food dish may cause the parrot to become a picky eater, electing to eat nuts and forgoing more health-critical foods like pellets, fruits, and vegetables.

You can pass nuts through the cage bars, put some in their bowl, or thread them onto a piece of string.

How Often Parrot Can Have Nuts

You can offer parrots a mixture of nuts once or twice a week.

If you want to feed parrots nuts daily, reduce the number. Nuts shouldn’t be the cornerstone of a parrot’s diet because this will lead to weight gain and nutritional deficiencies (malnutrition).

Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews, and walnuts are the healthiest for parrots.