Last Updated on: 16th July 2023, 12:08 pm
Papaya (Arica papaya) is a soft, fleshy fruit from the Caricaceae family grown in Mexico and Central America. Also known as pawpaw, many parrots relish the sweet taste of papaya.
Parrots can eat any part of the papaya fruit, from the flesh to the seeds. Initially, offer papaya in small amounts, as the skin of papaya contains latex which can sometimes provoke an allergic reaction.
A ripe papaya will be a shade of yellow or orange with dark seeds, while unripe papaya will be green with white seeds. When unripe, papaya lacks flavor, and the skin contains more latex.
Papaya can be offered occasionally to a parrot. As much as parrots enjoy this fruit, it won’t meet all their nutritional needs, so it must form part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Why Parrots Should Eat Papaya
Parrots like using their beaks to explore different textures, tastes, and shapes. While the smell of papaya may not be appetizing to humans due to the papain, it’s delectable to parrots.
Eating papaya fulfills parrots’ preferences—with the sweetness of the flesh and the peppery crunch of the seeds while reducing the risk of developing common health ailments.
Immune System Booster
Papaya is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E and antioxidants like beta-carotene, which can prevent illness and disease. If a parrot is already unwell, papaya can aid recovery.
Although birds can produce vitamin C from glucose in the liver, this vitamin is essential for stimulating the production of antibodies and fighting the damaging effects of free radicals.
Heart Disease Prevention
Feeding a parrot a nutritious diet and ensuring it exercises reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in the arteries).
The antioxidants and phytochemicals in papayas, such as lycopene (a carotenoid pigment) and vitamin C, improve the balance of good cholesterol (HDL) relative to bad cholesterol (LDL).
By warding against the oxidation of cholesterol, plaques are less likely to accumulate on the artery walls.
Inflammation is the body’s immune response to infection and disease.
While inflammation plays a vital role in a bird’s survival, chronic inflammation is among the primary causes of disease, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes mellitus.
Scientists have found that inflammatory markers diminished following the consumption of papaya. If a parrot has a degenerative joint condition, like arthritis, papaya may ease its discomfort.
Papaya contains enzymes, like papain, that enable the body to break down and utilize amino acids. Whether a parrot needs protein for energy, feathers, or physical development, papain is beneficial.
The high fiber content of papaya means it can prevent parrots from becoming constipated. Fiber increases the bulk of the stool, making the transit of waste through the cloaca easier.
Lower Risk of Kidney Disease
Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice reports that vitamin A deficiencies are common in captive birds, especially those often fed seed-based diets, like budgies.
Papaya contains beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health and vision.
Which Parts of Papaya Can Parrots Eat?
According to the American Federation of Aviculture, parrots can eat all parts of the papaya fruit. However, moderate risks are associated with eating the skin and over-consumption.
When parrots were observed eating papaya, the seeds appeared to be their favorite part. The seeds also contain small amounts of linoleic acid, which is essential for vibrant skin and strong feathers.
Most of the goodness in papaya is found in the flesh, although the skin is edible.
You may wish to peel away the skin before giving papaya to a parrot due to the presence of latex, which can cause allergic reactions. The symptoms of a latex allergy include:
- Skin hives.
- Streaming from the nostrils.
- Wheezing and labored breathing.
In severe cases of latex sensitivity, a parrot may enter anaphylactic shock.
Revista Alergia México explains that this is called latex-papaya syndrome. Anaphylaxis causes the blood pressure to drop to a dangerous level, and breathing becomes more difficult.
Papaya is a good source of vitamins A and C, essential for the avian immune system, skin, eyesight, and feathers. It also contains papain, which is beneficial for healthy digestion.
Cut up the papaya and mix it with other fruit pieces for added variety.
How To Give Papaya To Parrots
The American Federation of Aviculture stated that parrots grow bored of consuming the same foods, so they vary their diet to retain an interest.
Papaya is found in different forms, like fresh, frozen, dried, canned, pickled, and juiced.
Pickled papaya contains vinegar and salt (sodium), which could affect the body’s fluid balance or cause high blood pressure (hypertension).
Canned papaya contains added sugars, colorings, and preservatives, which are unhealthy for parrots.
Dehydrated and dried papaya last longer than fresh fruit, meaning you can store it in your pantry. Dried papaya contains no fewer nutrients than regular papaya.
Here are some ways to offer papaya to pet parrots:
- Cut into chunks or pieces.
- Juiced with no added sugars.
- Mashed into a puree.
- Dried or frozen.
- Give it the seeds.
- Mix with other fruits.
Ripe vs Unripe Papaya
The skin of unripe papaya is green, and the flesh and seeds are white.
Unripe papaya has almost no taste and is crunchy, while unripe papaya tastes like jicama or cucumber. Wild parrots eat unripe papaya, but you may not want to feed it to a pet parrot.
There are reasons why giving a parrot unripe papaya isn’t advisable:
- Thins the blood – Unripe papaya contains salicylates, which thin the blood and could cause excessive bleeding if the parrot sustains a wound.
- Allergic reactions – Both ripe and unripe papaya skins contain latex, but the amount is higher in unripe papaya. A parrot could experience an allergic reaction to latex in unripe skin.
Ripe papaya is okay to feed a parrot but ensure it’s not overly ripe.
Ripe papaya contains histamine, which is a neurotransmitter of the immune system. As papaya continues to ripen, the histamine levels increase, and overly ripe papaya leads to elevated histamine levels.
High histamine levels can harm a parrot’s immune system and cause health problems, including:
- Itchy skin.
- Difficulty breathing.
If papaya is covered in bruises and has skin that tears when a small amount of pressure is exerted, it’s likely overripe and unsafe for parrots.
How Much Papaya Can Parrots Eat?
Although most parrots love the taste of papaya, and this fruit has health benefits, it should be offered occasionally. Don’t provide too much because it won’t all get eaten and will spoil.
Papaya is a sweet and sugary fruit, so eating too much can lead to weight gain.
Papaya can be offered once or twice weekly. You may even wish to consider holding papaya back as a reward for desirable behavior or developing new skills and tricks.