Oranges are native to the same tropical and subtropical territories as parrots.
This means that many parrot species eat oranges in the wild. Captive parrots also enjoy oranges and can be fed this fruit in moderation, typically one slice every other day.
Oranges are full of vitamin C, which can help a parrot stave off respiratory infections and heal wounds while providing other immune system-boosting antioxidants.
Despite these advantages, oranges are high in sugar, which can lead to weight gain. The citric acid in oranges can also lead to digestive discomfort.
Parrots like sweet and juicy tastes and textures, so Jaffa oranges, mandarins, clementines, tangerines, and navel oranges are among the most popular.
Blood oranges and Seville oranges may be too bitter for a parrot’s palate.
Do Parrots Like Oranges?
Oranges come in many forms, some more appealing to parrots than others. The most common types of oranges are as follows:
|Blood oranges:||Very juicy but quite acidic. Some parrots like blood oranges, while others are wary of the sharp flavor.|
|Clementines:||Parrots will likely enjoy small, juicy, and sweet clementines.|
|Jaffa oranges:||Arguably the most common orange, most parrots will love navel oranges as they’re sweet, seedless, and juicy.|
|Mandarins:||Bursting with Vitamin C and sweetness, so many parrots like mandarins.|
|Navel oranges:||Arguably the most common orange of all, most parrots will love navel oranges as they’re sweet, seedless, and juicy.|
|Seville oranges:||These oranges are sour and bitter, so they’re mostly used for cooking.|
|Tangerines:||Another small and sweet orange is likely to attract a parrot’s attention.|
Parrots that eat oranges in the wild include the following:
- African grey parrots.
- Alexandrine parrots.
- Eclectus parrots.
- Ringneck parrots.
This all means that parrots most definitely enjoy eating oranges. Perhaps the more pertinent question is, “Is it safe to feed parrots oranges?”
Are Oranges Good for Parrots?
Oranges are high in iron. This is important for parrots, as iron promotes the generation of hemoglobin that carries and distributes oxygenated blood.
If a parrot lacks iron, it risks becoming anemic. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association warns how this can lead to lethargy, muscular weakness, and a loss of appetite.
Oranges are high in fiber, which is essential for digestion, encouraging regular, healthy, and solid stools. The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine also links fiber and potassium to good heart health.
Above all, oranges are most celebrated for these reasons:
Oranges have a high vitamin C content, enhancing a parrot’s immune system. This is essential to health because respiratory infections can be life-threatening to a parrot.
Any bird that spends time outside the cage is exposed to injury risk. Vitamin C encourages collagen development, which enables open wounds to close and heal rapidly.
Captive parrots have a long lifespan, and age increases disease risk.
Oxidative stress occurs due to free radicals in the body. The most effective way to battle free radicals is by bringing antioxidants into a parrot’s diet, which feeding oranges can achieve.
As explained by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, oranges have a wide array of antioxidants, including the following:
With these antioxidants in a parrot’s bloodstream, it stands a higher chance of living a long life.
Are Oranges Dangerous for Parrots?
There are also some drawbacks to feeding parrots oranges, including the following:
When we profiled the different types of oranges that parrots may like, we discussed their acidity. As a citrus fruit, oranges are naturally high in citric acid.
Depending on the type of orange, citric acid can lead to a bitter, tangy taste that doesn’t appeal to parrots. More concerning is the impact of citric acid on a parrot’s digestion.
A parrot’s stomach sometimes struggles to keep up with neutralizing citric acids. This can lead to stomach upsets, especially due to the sugar in an orange.
The Journal of Applied Poultry Research also explains how citric acid can increase levels of lactic acid bacteria, campylobacter, and staphylococcus in chickens.
This suggests the same fate could befall a parrot that eats oranges excessively.
Like most birds, parrots struggle to process sugar and fructose. If a parrot consumes too much sugar by eating oranges, it’ll experience a stomach upset.
This will be messy to clean up and distressing for the bird. Weight gain is also a concern because parrots must remain lean to fly and comfortably support their body weight.
How To Feed Oranges To Parrots
A parrot should never be offered a whole orange because they’re too acidic to eat in one serving.
Oranges should always be peeled and served by the slice. An orange has various components, each with varying benefits for parrots.
When we think about oranges, we immediately consider the fruit’s sweet, juicy, and tasty flesh. The easiest way to bring oranges into a parrot’s diet is to peel the fruit and feed it slices.
Orange pips are small, so they won’t pose a choking hazard to a parrot. They’re also devoid of anything harmful, as orange pips don’t contain amygdalin, the compound that releases cyanide in the stomach.
If a parrot eats orange pips, it’ll enjoy more antioxidants and vitamins. If a parrot is averse to pips, choose a seedless variety of oranges like a jaffa orange, clementine, or navel orange.
Orange peel also contains various vitamins and minerals, and some parrots will enjoy the challenge of tearing an orange peel to shreds.
The main concern with orange peel is herbicides or pesticides. If you’re going to offer orange peel to a parrot, shop organic and take the time to wash the peel before serving.
Freeze-drying slices of orange helps the fruit last longer, and the process retains much of the nutrition found in fresh oranges. Freeze-dried orange pieces will be far less juicy.
As oranges are so good for parrots, you may wonder, “Can parrots drink orange juice?” Parrots can sometimes be fussy about drinking water, so this may seem like a way to encourage hydration.
You can juice an orange to ensure the parrot gets the vitamins and minerals found within, although it should be diluted with water.
Never offer a parrot orange juice from a store. This will be packed with added sugars and other additives designed to make the flavor more appealing to the human palate, rendering it unsuitable for parrots.
How Often Can Parrots Eat Oranges?
Due to their sugar and acid content, oranges must be served sparingly to parrots.
As a rule, one slice of orange every other day is sufficient for a parrot. This will provide the health benefits of oranges while also negating the risks.