Parrots can safely eat just about every fruit you find in the market. Everything from bananas, oranges, watermelons, apples and many others (with the exception of avocado). Mango falls in this group as well.
Mangoes are tropical fruits referred to as stone fruits. This means they have a hard seed in the middle. They have a thin skin whose color could be red, orange or green. The inside is made of soft, yellow, juicy flesh. Most parrots love mangoes and will gladly gobble down a good amount at the first opportunity.
Mangoes are tasty and also highly nutritious.
Nutrients Found in Mango
Mangoes are full of nutrients and low in calories. These are a few nutrients found in mangoes.
Vitamin C. Mango is among the top on the list of fruits with highest contents of vitamin C, coming closely behind citrus fruits. There are about 36 grams of vitamin C in every 100 grams of the fruit’s flesh. This nutrient is essential in your bird’s diet because it helps to maintain a strong immune system, maintains cardiovascular health and helps protect the bird’s body from oxidative stress.
Vitamin A. The specific form of vitamin A found in plant sources is beta-carotene which is responsible for the fruit’s bright orange color. One of the main functions of vitamin A in a parrot’s body is maintenance of mucous membranes and epithelial surfaces. It also helps to maintain the bright red, orange or blue colors in some birds’ feathers.
Vitamin A deficiency is quite common in parrots, especially those fed on seed-only diets. Without mucous protecting the bird’s tracts, disease causing pathogens find their way into their digestive and reproductive tracts. The result is bacterial infections.
Lack of vitamin A in birds causes symptoms such as white spots in the bird’s eyes and sinuses around or in the mouth. If these spots catch infections, they end up becoming pus-filled abscesses. If an abscess develops near the opening of the windpipe, it could cause the bird to have difficulty breathing.
Antioxidants. Mango contains polyphenols. These are natural substances in plants which help the body manage free radicals thus protecting it from disease and premature aging. Mangoes have more than a dozen different types of polyphenols. These include mangiferin, anthocyanins, kaempferol, rhamnetin, quercetin among others. Mangiferin is believed to be especially powerful as it has potential to counter free radicals linked to cancers and diabetes.
Are Mango Peels Safe For Parrots?
Mango skin or peels are often removed to expose the sweet fleshy part of the fruit and thrown away. Most people believe mango peels are inedible. They are in fact edible and contain lots of nutrients. Research reveals that mango skins are packed with polyphenols, dietary fibre, vitamin C and vitamin E.
If your bird is obese (it is a common condition in domesticated parrots) mango peels are a good fruit choice. Studies have shown that mango peels work much like resveratrol, a fat burning compound found in red wine. According to these studies, extracts from mango peels inhibit the process of adipogenesis (production of mature fat cells.) Interestingly, tests conducted on the entire fruit found that the flesh of mango does not have any fat-reducing ability.
We can conclude that mango peels are safe and healthy for your feathered friend. However, there are some reasons why you could find yourself opting to throw them away even when you know how nutritious they are.
Disadvantages of mango peels:
- Mango skins contain urushiol. This is a mix of organic chemicals which is also present in poison oak and poison ivy. Eating mango peels could cause allergic reactions to these chemicals. Allergic reactions typically cause swelling of the skin.
- Pesticide residues. Most fruits are treated with pesticides to kill bacteria and fight off insects when they are on the farm. While these pesticides do make a big difference in ensuring the crops grow strong and healthy, they often get absorbed into the skin.
Repeated exposure to these pesticides can cause reproductive health problems, disruption of the endocrine system and increased risk of cancers.
- Unpleasant texture and taste. While some people don’t mind the taste of mango peels, the vast majority agree that mango peels can be less than appetizing. These thick peels are often difficult to chew and sometimes have a bitter taste.
Skins of ripe mangoes may be easier for your bird to munch on but those that are not completely ripe have tough skin which may be difficult for him to chew and swallow.
Can Parrots Eat Mango Seed?
Mangoes have one, sometimes large seed in the middle of the tasty flesh. There has been debate as to whether it is safe to let your parrot have a mango seed to pick off bits of fruit and perhaps crack it open. Some people say they give their birds mango seed to let them enjoy picking at the hard seed for fun.
It is true that experts strongly advise against feeding parrots with seeds and pits of some fruits such as cherries, peaches, apples pears, plums, nectarines and apricots. They contain varying levels of cyanide, a poisonous compound which can cause death.
The question is whether mango seeds fall in the category of safe seeds or not. There is no scientific research to prove if mango seeds are poisonous or not. This is why many bird owners prefer to stay on the safe side by not giving their birds mango seeds.
Dried fruit mango is a great way for you and your bird to continue enjoying the benefits of this fruit even when it is not in season. Parrots which enjoy fresh mango will probably enjoy the dehydrated version of the same.
If you have a picky eater who still can’t decide if he likes mango or not, try dried mango first. This may help to persuade him to eat fresh mango.
Avoid preservatives. If you usually buy your dried fruit in a pack from the store, preservatives are one detail you need to be careful about. Commercially dried fruit is usually preserved using sulfides. Sulfur dioxide is used as a sulfing agent.
Don’t feed dried mango to your bird if it contains sulfides. Many people and birds have suffered serious allergic reactions after consuming foods preserved with this chemicals. Make a point to check the nutritional information on the pack of your dried mango before feeding it to your bird.
Dried mango vs fresh mango. If you have a choice between dried mango and fresh mango for your bird, always go for the fresh option. Dried mango has a higher concentration of carbohydrates and more calories than fresh mango.
1/3 of a cup of dried mango provides about 160 calories. This comes down to 40 grams of carbohydrates only. A mere2 grams of this is dietary fibre and the remaining 32 are from sugar.
If you have to feed your bird with dried mango, remember to do so in moderation. It will take more dried mango to fill up compared to fresh fruit. Left unchecked, your bird could end up eating too much dried mango.
Is Mango Juice safe for Parrots?
Natural or homemade mango juice contains more of less the same nutrients in the fruit used to make it. It is both safe and highly nutritious for your bird. The difference with juicing is that it removes the fibre. This means that you don’t feel half as full from a glass of juice made from a whole mango as you would if you ate the full mango.
Despite this disadvantage, there is one main advantage of juicing. It makes the nutrients and phytochemicals in the fruit easier for your bird’s body to absorb with little effort from his digestive tract.
What about store bought mango juice? When it comes to mango juice out of a pack, things are a little different. You have to think about the fact that store bought juices are made from fruit but usually contain preservatives to make them last as long as they do. Avian nutrition experts advise against giving your parrot store bought mango juice to avoid exposing them to artificial preservatives. This is not to say that a few sips of store bought juice will do him any harm. It won’t. The point is to make sure that it doesn’t form a part of his daily diet.
Mango is no doubt a highly nutritious fruit for your parrot. Although some bird owners say their parrots don’t like it, most admit that their parrots will pick it out of a fruit mix any day. Mango skins are also full of essential nutrients but should not be fed to parrots unless you are sure they are free of harmful pesticides.
Mango seeds are a source of debate. Some say they are fine for parrots while others believe it is best to keep mango seeds from parrots because there is little information on whether it contains cyanide like seeds and pits of certain fruits.