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Can Parrots Eat Oranges? [What Types, How Often + How Much?]

(Last Updated On: November 29, 2022)

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 will also enjoy oranges and can be fed this fruit in moderation, typically one slice every other day.

Oranges are full of Vitamin C, which will help a parrot stave off respiratory infections and heal wounds while containing 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 cause digestive discomfort.

Parrots like sweet and juicy tastes and textures, so Jaffa oranges, mandarins, clementines, tangerines, and navel oranges will be 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 orangesVery juicy but quite acidic. Some parrots like blood oranges, while others are wary of the sharp flavor.
ClementinesParrots will likely enjoy small, juicy, and sweet clementines.
Jaffa orangesKnown as “easy peelers,” these oranges are sweet and contain very few seeds.
MandarinsBursting with Vitamin C and sweetness, so many parrots like mandarins.
Navel orangesArguably the most common orange of all, most parrots will love navel oranges as they’re sweet, seedless, and juicy.
Seville orangesThese oranges are very sour and bitter, which are mostly used for cooking, and are unlikely to appeal to parrots.
TangerinesAnother small and sweet orange is likely to attract your parrot’s attention.

Parrots that eat oranges in the wild include the following:

  • African grey parrots.
  • Alexandrine parrots.
  • Conures.
  • 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 known for their high iron content. This is important for parrots, as iron promotes the generation of hemoglobin that helps the body carry and distribute 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, solid stools. The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine also links fiber and potassium to heart health.

Above all, oranges are most celebrated for two key reasons:

Vitamin C

Oranges have a high Vitamin C content. Your parrot will have an enhanced immune system. This is essential to health, as respiratory infections can be life-threatening to a parrot.

Any bird that spends time outside the cage will be exposed to injury risk, and Vitamin C encourages collagen development. This enables open wounds to close and heal rapidly.

are oranges good for parrots?

Antioxidants

Captive parrots have a long lifespan, and age brings the risk of disease.

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:

  • Beta-cryptoxanthin
  • Carotenoids
  • Flavonoids
  • Hesperidin
  • Phytochemicals

With these antioxidants in your parrot’s bloodstream, it stands a much better chance of living a long life.

Are Oranges Dangerous for Parrots?

There are also some drawbacks to feeding parrots oranges, including the following:

Acidity

When we profiled the different types of oranges that parrots may be interested in, we discussed the acidity found in oranges. As a citrus fruit, oranges are naturally high in citric acid.

Depending on the type of orange in question, this 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 small stomach sometimes struggles to keep up with neutralizing citric acids. This can lead to stomach upsets, especially with 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 that the same fate could befall a parrot that eats oranges excessively.

Sugar

Oranges are also high in sugar. Parrots, like most birds, struggle to process sugar and fructose consumed through foods. This is one of the reasons fruit should be sparingly fed to companion birds.

If your parrot consumes too much sugar by eating oranges, it will experience a stomach upset. This will be messy to clean up and distressing for your bird. Weight gain is also a concern, as 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 and left to tuck in at leisure. These fruits are far too acidic to eat in one serving.

Oranges should always be peeled and served by the slice. There are many components of an orange, each of which has varying benefits and appeal to parrots.

Orange Flesh

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 by the slice.

do parrots like oranges?

Orange Pips

Orange pips are tiny, so they won’t pose a choking hazard to your parrot. They’re also devoid of anything harmful, as orange pips don’t contain amygdalin, the compound that releases cyanide in the stomach.

If your parrot eats orange pips, it’ll enjoy more antioxidants and vitamins. If your parrot is averse to pips, choose a seedless variety of oranges like a jaffa orange, clementine, or navel orange.

Orange Peel

Orange peel also contains a variety of minerals and vitamins, and some parrots will enjoy the challenge of tearing an orange peel to shreds.

The biggest concern with orange peel is the presence of herbicides or pesticides. If you’re going to offer orange peel to a parrot, shop organic and still take the time to wash the peel before serving.

Freeze-Dried Oranges

Freeze-drying slices of orange helps the fruit last much longer, and the process retains much of the nutrition found in fresh oranges. Freeze-dried orange pieces will be considerably less juicy.

Orange Juice

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’ll be welcome to juice an orange, ensuring your parrot gets the vitamins and minerals found within, though this should be significantly diluted by 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, making it unsuitable for parrots. 

How Often Can Parrots Eat Oranges?

Due to the sugar and acid content of oranges, they must be sparingly served to parrots.

As a rule, one slice of orange every other day is more than enough for a parrot. This will provide the health benefits of oranges while also negating the risks.