Last Updated on: 10th November 2023, 11:01 am
Some people feed avocados to parrots, failing to realize how harmful it is to their health.
Never feed parrots avocado! It contains persin in the flesh, stone, and skin, a fungicidal toxin that causes heart and liver failure in birds.
The effects of avocado poisoning arise within 12 hours. Once parrots develop respiratory problems after eating avocado, death usually follows.
A vet can wash the crop using activated charcoal, but only if the symptoms aren’t too advanced. Once the symptoms become more pronounced, it’s too late to save the parrot’s life.
Can Parrots Eat Avocado?
While avocado is high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids that benefit humans, it’s a deadly food source for parrots.
Avocados are native to the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Central and Northern America, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that parrots feast on them.
Some parrots, like Amazon parrots and macaws, ingest clay before eating toxic foods because clay protects them from the effects of toxins when food resources are scarce.
There are insufficient studies to suggest whether this works against avocados’ toxic effects. Captive parrots don’t have access to clay, leaving them vulnerable to avocado poisoning.
Why Can’t You Feed Parrots Avocado?
The Guatemalan and Nabal varieties of avocado are most toxic, but they’re all harmful. All parts of avocado, including the pit, skin, and flesh, are poisonous to parrots.
Persin is a fungicidal toxin similar to a fatty acid. It’s harmless to humans and many other animals but poisonous to parrots and other bird species.
Persin is located throughout the avocado, including the rough, textured skin. According to the Northern Suburbs Veterinary Hospital, a lethal dose of avocado for the following parrots is:
- Budgies: 3.5 grams.
- Cockatiels: 20 to 30 grams.
As explained by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the symptoms of avocado poisoning can occur within 30 minutes of ingestion, followed by death within 1 to 2 days.
Much depends on the parrot’s size and how much avocado has been consumed.
The first signs of avocado toxicity include:
- Weakness and depression.
- Fluffed-up feathers.
- Reluctance to perch.
- Extreme agitation.
- Feather-pulling and self-destructive behaviors.
Then, parrots develop respiratory issues, at which point death follows.
In the most severe cases, avocado poisoning leads to myocardial necrosis.
It causes fluid to build up around the lungs and heart, preventing these organs from functioning. Parrots having a heart attack exhibit the following symptoms:
- Long periods of inactivity and weakness.
- Lying on the floor of their cage.
- Skin discoloration, particularly around the eyes.
- A swollen abdomen where fluid has accumulated.
- Increased heartbeat.
- Labored breathing.
- Tail bobbing.
The parrot will die unless a vet can intervene before the symptoms become too advanced.
Toxins like persin cause liver damage in parrots. A healthy liver is essential because it enables birds to digest food, store and filter blood, and perform metabolic functions.
Cockatiels, budgies, and Amazon parrots are most prone to liver disease. The symptoms of liver disease are similar to liver damage. These include:
- Fluffed-up feathers.
- Listless parrots.
- Increased thirst.
- Difficulty breathing.
- A swollen or distended abdomen.
As a minimum, the persin from avocados causes digestive irritation.
Alongside vomiting, a parrot will experience loose, watery stools or diarrhea. You may also notice the abdomen is swollen and distended.
Fatty Liver Disease
While avocados contain unsaturated fats and no cholesterol, that doesn’t mean they can’t cause weight gain. A standard avocado weighing 201 g contains 29 g of fat.
Excess fat can lead to fatty liver disease. Also known as hepatic lipidosis, it occurs when large amounts of fat accumulate in the liver. A parrot that eats avocado is unlikely to live long enough to grow fat.
Does Avocado Kill Parrots?
Even small traces of avocado can cause premature death in parrots.
In a study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 8 canaries and 8 budgerigars were given 2 varieties of avocado through a feeding cannula.
6 budgies and 1 canary died 24 to 47 hours after the first dose.
Avocado poisoning is among the more common reasons for sudden death in parrots. However, it’s more likely they’ll exhibit a range of symptoms, including:
- Falling from perch.
- Increased urination.
- Staggering or lack of coordination.
The severity of symptoms depends on the parrot’s sensitivity to avocado and the amount consumed.
Are Parrots Allergic To Avocados?
Some parrots develop allergies to food, mold, and other irritants, but they’re difficult to test for. Instead, vets diagnose allergies based on the parrot’s symptoms and reactions.
Some parrots may be allergic to avocados. It’s hard to determine because avocado affects almost all birds, whether fatally or not.
Also, allergy symptoms are similar to the ones caused by persin poisoning. Although, parrots with allergies tend to develop the following:
- Reddened eyes.
- Inflamed or swollen ceres.
- Itchy skin.
If a parrot experiences these signs after eating avocado, it has an allergy and poisoning.
What Happens When You Feed Parrots Avocados?
If you’ve fed a parrot avocado, take it to a vet. If the clinical signs of poisoning haven’t yet manifested, the vet may perform a crop lavage (crop wash) with activated charcoal.
Vets will put poisoned parrots on intravenous fluids to ease the symptoms and remove the persin.
There’s no test for avocado poisoning, but vets can diagnose the condition from the symptoms alone. Because avocado is so toxic, they should never be fed to parrots, even in small quantities.