Parrots benefit from a wide and varied diet. If you’re looking for new fruits to add to their meal list, you might consider papaya. It’s a tropical fruit hailing from many of the same regions as parrots. The good news is, it’s also packed with nutrients and flavors that your parrot will love.
Papaya is a good fruit to feed your parrot. It’s a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, protein, magnesium, fiber, and calcium. The seeds are safe, but be careful with the skin. Although the skin itself is not harmful, papayas are sprayed with pesticide, which doesn’t wash off easily. Papaya should be fed to parrots once it’s ripe.
Papayas that are too green can thin out the parrot’s blood. However, when overly ripe, it could trigger allergies. When you find the right balance, papayas can speed up the healing process of an injured or sick parrot.
Can Parrots Eat Papaya?
Papaya is safe for parrots to eat. It’s non-toxic, easy to ingest, and is packed with nutrients. As a fruit, it can account for up to 15% of your parrot’s diet. However, it’s best paired with other types of fruit, so your parrot has a rounded collection of meals. Of course, the best food you can give a parrot is a formulated diet, which should contain a mix of:
Papaya (also known as pawpaw or papaw) is a fruit that originates from southern Mexico and Central America. However, it is now cultivated in almost every tropical country in the world. It can be offered to parrots in a variety of ways:
- Papaya can be squeezed and given as a refreshing drink
- It can be cut up into squares
- The seeds can be taken out and given as a snack
- It can be mashed into a purée and served on its own
- It can be mixed with another food
No matter how you go about it, parrots will love it. Papayas can also beat many other fruits in terms of nutrients. It has a high amount of:
- Vitamin C
- Water content
Is Papaya Good for Parrots?
Papaya can help ward off illness in parrots, and help them recover from injuries or sickness. That’s because papaya improves the immune system and gives your parrot the nutrients it needs to recover.
However, it is imperative that you only feed your parrot natural papaya, not dried papaya. Most dried fruits contain a preservative called sulfur dioxide. This is used to prevent oxidation and rotting. It also helps the dried fruit maintain its color.
Sulfur dioxide is toxic to parrots. It triggers a violent allergic reaction that affects the:
You can buy dried papaya that is unsulfured, but not only is it hard to find, but it also contains more sugar than parrots should eat, since most dried fruit is meant for human consumption.
If natural papaya is something you can’t buy, you can try finding dried papaya meant for birds. Just be aware that a fruit that has been dried loses a lot of its nutritional value. If given correctly, papaya is full of nutrients. These include:
Vitamin C is a powerhouse. It does wonders in:
- Boosting the immune system
- Aiding in the absorption of iron
- Helping the overall development of muscle tissue and bones
It also helps the body fight off infectious diseases and speeds up the healing of wounds. Papaya can be given to parrots that:
- Are recovering from physical injuries
- Have fungal infections
- Are suffering from rashes
Vitamin A also boosts the immune system, but its benefits mostly lie in maintaining healthy vision and proper organ function. Vitamin A helps parrots with:
- Kidney disorders
- Eye infections
When a parrot has a vitamin A deficiency, they will experience eye swelling. A serving of papaya can help ward that off.
Calcium is what keeps bones strong. Parrots in captivity often have a calcium deficiency (hypocalcemia) because most foods don’t contain high amounts of calcium. According to the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, calcium prevents:
- Heart disorders
- Muscle pain and contraction
It also helps with:
- Beak health
Parrots that need calcium the most are African grey parrots, which have greater bone density than other parrot species. That’s according to the Canadian Veterinary Journal. This is also true for female parrots that are laying eggs. After all, their calcium levels drop during egg production.
Fiber helps clear out the bacteria in a parrot’s intestine. Foods that are high in fiber should be given to parrots with constipation.
Protein is essential for muscle, skin, organ, and bone health. It keeps parrots strong and healthy, according to Zoobiology. Parrots with a protein deficiency experience both organ and muscle failure. Papaya can be given to birds that lack energy and have weak muscles.
Potassium is essential for kidney health. It also regulates muscle contractions. Potassium is crucial for female parrots that are laying eggs, since it prevents egg binding. Parrots need potassium when feeling fatigued or that have muscle cramps and breathing difficulties.
Lycopene is a bright red pigment found in red fruits such as tomatoes. Although papayas aren’t as red as other fruits, they still contain a lot of lycopene. It promotes cardiovascular health and is a great antioxidant.
Papaya Nutritional Info
Your parrot can gain many benefits from papaya. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the nutrients contained in one very small papaya.
|Nutrition Content||Amount per Serving (100 grams)|
|Water content||88.06 grams|
|Beta carotene (vitamin A1)||274 micrograms|
|Beta cryptoxanthin||589 micrograms|
|Vitamin A||47 micrograms|
|Niacin (vitamin B3)||0.36 milligrams|
|Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)||0.19 milligrams|
|Folate (vitamin B9)||37 micrograms|
When it comes to helping your parrot maintain a healthy lifestyle, papayas knock it out of the park in comparison to other foods. Papayas contain less glucose than other fruits such as:
They contain a lot more minerals and vitamin C than these fruits as well. Just keep in mind that not all papayas are created equal. It all depends on where the fruit was grown. Papayas are grown in Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Florida.
About 75% of the papayas grown in Hawaii are GMO. This means they are genetically modified and created in labs instead of naturally grown. To replicate a wild parrot’s diet for your pet bird, you should feed your parrot organic food. That’s especially true because there is little research on the long-term effects of GMOs on humans, let alone animals.
Although it is said that GMOs contain the same nutritional content as organic food, the evidence is shaky at best. It’s hard to say if your parrot will reap the same benefits from a lab-created fruit. Mexican papayas are considered to be the best because of their extremely high vitamin C content. Be sure to ask where the papayas are sourced from when buying.
Can Parrots Eat Pawpaw Fruit?
Pawpaw fruit and papaya are often referred to interchangeably. However, they are technically different fruits. They belong to the same family of Caricaceae, and come from the same genus of Carica.
However, the pawpaw fruit is usually mellow in flavor, while the papaya has a sweeter taste. No matter what, both are safe to offer your parrot. They have a similar amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Can Parrots Eat Papaya Seeds?
Apart from the actual flesh of the fruit, papaya seeds are okay for parrots to eat too. They are rich in protein, fat, and fiber. They contain oleic acid, which is a monosaturated fatty acid found in many vegetables and oils. It is considered hypotensive, which means it helps:
- Reduce high blood pressure
- A parrot’s cardiovascular system
Papaya seeds also contain anti-parasitic properties. The most common parasites found in parrots are:
- Scaly face mites
Parrots kept as pets in humid weather are more likely to have parasites. That’s because there’s a higher chance of interacting with mold. Parrots that are frequently allowed to go outside are also more likely to get parasitic infections due to exposure. A serving of papaya once a week can help ward off these invaders.
Can Parrots Eat Papaya Skin?
Like most fruits, even the skin on papayas is healthy and non-toxic. The nutritional value on the skin isn’t as great as the flesh and the seeds, however. Giving your parrot the skin isn’t really worth it if your main concern is providing a balanced diet.
Despite the non-toxicity, it’s not advised to give your parrot the papaya’s skin. It’s not because the skin is unhealthy, but because of the pesticides sprayed on the fruit while it’s growing.
Pesticides do not wash away as easily as you may think. A quick run under some water isn’t always enough to remove any residue from the toxic substance. Pesticides seep through the skin. Although they won’t penetrate deep enough to affect the actual flesh, they definitely settle on the skin.
There is only one time when it’s okay for parrots to eat papaya skin. That’s if it was grown without being treated by chemicals. This can be a little hard to do unless it was grown in your own backyard.
Papayas should be fed to parrots when they are at the peak of their ripeness. Sure, green papayas contain a lot of enzymes that help grow healthy gut bacteria. However, they also have higher levels of salicylates than ripe papayas. Salicylates are a group of drugs that reduce inflammation, but also thin the blood.
It is paramount that you do not feed parrots green papayas when they are recovering from a wound. The salicylates in the green papaya could thin out the blood and cause the wound to bleed more than it normally would.
Small quantities of cooked green papaya can be fed to parrots if they have intestinal issues. However, you should consult with an avian vet about it, because of the blood-thinning agents it contains.
Green papayas also have a higher amount of papaya latex than ripe versions. Papaya latex is an irritating substance that your parrot can have an allergic reaction to.
Green papaya is safer to eat when it’s cooked. That’s because the heat disintegrates the latex content. Nonetheless, you should still be wary and wait for the fruit to ripen instead.
Overly ripe papaya can harm your parrot just as much as un-ripe papaya. That’s because it contains high levels of histamine. Histamine is a neurotransmitter that’s part of a body’s immune system.
Too much histamine can destabilize a parrot’s immune system. It may cause a number of problems, such as:
- Itchy skin
- Trouble breathing
Overly ripe papayas should not be given to parrots that are feather plucking (or with a history of it). That’s because the itchy skin and stress can trigger the behavior once more.
Overly ripe papayas are yellow in color, covered in bruises, and have weak skin that tears apart with just a bit of pressure. Make sure you check the ripeness before feeding it to your parrot.
Papayas are a tasty, nutrient-packed food that can be safely offered to parrots. As long as you pick the right kind, and prepare it correctly, it’s a great addition to your parrot’s meals.