Carrots for Parrots?

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Carrots for Parrots

Should parrots eat carrots? Yes carrots are a safe and healthy vegetable which should be included in your parrot’s diet. Carrots are rich in vitamin C, K, B6 and potassium. Carrots are best known for their high beta-carotene content. It is beta-carotene which gives carrots their rich orange color. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A which is essential for good vision, immunity and healthy skin.

Carrots are also good sources of natural fiber. Pectin is the main form of soluble fibre in carrots. It helps to lower blood sugar levels by slowing the process of sugar and starch digestion.

Carrots are found in several different colors such as orange, yellow, white purple and red.

Feeding Carrots to Parrots

Some parrots love this sweet crunchy vegetable and others just won’t touch it. Others seem to have some kind of phobia for bright colored foods and take some time to recognize them as food. If your parrot enjoys carrots, these are some details to think about.

Wash carrots thoroughly

Carrots are root vegetables. These are underground parts of plants which are edible for humans and birds like parrots. The fact that the edible part of the plant is under the ground, it inevitably comes up with a fair amount of soil. This is why is so important to clean carrots thoroughly before feeding your bird. Wash them under clean running water. Use a vegetable wash solution to kill harmful bacteria and remove any dirt left after washing.

If you don’t have a store bough vegetable wash solution, you can make some at home. Combine 1 part of vinegar and 3 parts of water in a spray bottle. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice then shake it well to combine all the ingredients. Spray your carrots with this to make sure they are completely clean.

Cooked vs raw carrots

Cooked or raw carrots? Which one is nutritionally superior? The truth is that cooked carrots are more nutritious than raw ones. Your bird still gets a lot of nutrients from them in their natural raw form but not as much if they are cooked… minimally.

Raw food enthusiasts insist that raw vegetables are better than cooked ones because heat destroys nutrients. This is not the case with all vegetables. Carrots are one of a few exceptions. Cooking carrots breaks down tough cell walls making it easier for the body to absorb nutrients released. Cooking carrots increases the amount of beta- carotene your bird’s body can absorb. Try steamed, grilled, sautéed or roasted carrots.

Be sure to cook carrots minimally. Excessive cooking begins to destroy vitamin C. It is also best to cook vegetables like carrots whole. This helps to retain natural flavors and helps in retention of nutrients. Whole cooked vegetables can provide up to 25% more nutrients than when they are chopped up before cooking. Cook the whole carrot then cut it up for your bird before feeding him.

Vary textures and sizes

Just like human beings, individual birds may prefer to have their carrots in one form rather than another. It is common to find a bird which gladly eats chopped carrots but will not touch them when given whole. Others prefer grated carrots.

If you have tried giving you parrot carrot in one form and he doesn’t like it, don’t give up. Try giving them to him in another form. Try grating them and mixing them with other vegetables. Chop them into thin slices, put a few pieces in his bowl and see if his reaction is different. Bigger parrots like macaws, especially enjoy whole carrots. Perhaps it presents more of a challenge than chopped or grated ones.

Are Carrot Greens Safe For Parrots?

If you have ever harvested carrots, or bought them fresh from the farmers market, you most probably chop off the green leafy top, throw it out and proceed to prepare the edible carrot. Believe it or not, the green, leafy top of the carrot plant which grows above the ground is actually edible, not just for Bugs Bunny but for us and birds too. Although there have been no recognized studies of carrot tops in regards to nutritional value, it is believed that they have the same goodness as their roots. They are rich in vitamin A, C, K and B6. They are good sources of minerals like manganese and potassium.

There have been claims that carrot tops are poisonous. They are somewhat bitter and bitter tastes in plants have often been associated with plant poisons. This may be part of the reason why it was assumed that they cannot be eaten.

Wash the tops thoroughly then chop them coarsely or finely and feed them to your bird. Some bird owners prefer to simply push whole green stalks through the top of the cage bars so the leaves hang down into the cage. The birds then nibble at the leaves and leave the stalks bare.

Carrot Puree

Mashed and pureed food is not an ordinary consistency for birds so there is no harm if they never have it. That said, pureed carrots are a favorite for bird owners because cooked carrots have been found to be more nutritious than raw ones.

To make carrot puree for your bird, boil the carrot lightly until it is tender. Mash it then strain it. You can also make puree by blending cooked carrots or mashing them with a potato masher. Add cooking liquid if you want to make it thin. This offers an easy-to-eat, sweet meal for parrots and they will probably love it.

Pureed carrots are great for sickly birds because it requires little effort to eat. If you have an exceptionally fussy eater on your hands, this puree may also be a good option. Although pureed carrots for us taste better with a pinch of salt and perhaps a little seasoning like pepper, leave these out of your bird’s carrot puree.

Be careful not to overcook the carrots before mashing them. Extra cooking may seem useful to make them completely soft and easy to mash but it makes the carrots lose some essential nutrients.

African Grey Parrots and Carrots

The subject of bird nutrition is fast evolving. With heightened awareness of the importance of proper nutrition for domesticated birds and increased research on nutritional needs of specific species, there is new information every so often.

All birds require a balanced diet of carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, fat, minerals and water. Pellets are considered the ideal food for parrots because they contain almost all nutritional requirements. Pellets should make up approximately 80% of your birds diet. 20% should be made up of fruits and vegetables of any kind.

However, there is need for further scrutiny when it comes to African Grey parrots.

African Grey parrots need lots of carrots. African Grey parrots are prone to both obesity and beta-carotene deficiency. This is why it is not considered too much to include carrots in his diet on a daily basis. This bird’s diet should contain little or no seeds to keep calorie counts at a minimum.

Carrots are ideal for African Greys because they are low in calories and very rich in beta-carotene. Other beta-carotene rich foods are orange, yellow and red vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash and peppers.

Should Parrots Eat Frozen Carrots?

Many of us believe that frozen foods are not as healthy as what we buy from the fresh section of the supermarket or from farmers’ markets. The first and easiest conclusion is to avoid giving parrots frozen vegetables and always feed them with fresh ones.

This is only one school of thought. Another school actually advocates for frozen vegetables like carrots over fresh ones. They say the frozen vegetables you buy from the supermarket could be fresher and more nutritious than fresh produce.

This different opinion is based on the thought that a fresh vegetable loses about 25% of its original nutritional value each day after it is picked. Frozen vegetables sold at supermarkets are flash frozen within a day of picking. This means they are frozen before they lose much of the nutrients they carry and freezing slows any further degradation. Fresh vegetables on the other hand get to the market 2, 3 or more days after they are picked because they have to be shipped from different parts of the country ( depending on what season it is).

Here is a quick breakdown taking the theory mentioned. Vegetables picked on Monday will be transported and get to the market on Wednesday. By this time they contain slightly more than 50% of the original nutritional value. Assuming you get home and cook them on Thursday, you will have on your plate vegetables with about 30% of their original nutritional value. Vegetables picked on Monday and frozen the same day retain almost 100% of their nutritional value. They are frozen throughout their journey. By the time you buy them and cook them, they still contain close to 100% of their goodness.

Conclusion

Carrots are a universally loved vegetable. They are rich in essential nutrients and brightly colored so they add to the aesthetic appeal of foods. If you were wondering if it is safe to feed your parrot with carrots, rest assured that they are one of the healthiest vegetables you could give.

Carrot tops, the green leafy part of the carrot plant is another option which your bird is bound to enjoy. Don’t be afraid to feed your parrot with frozen carrots from the supermarket. They just might be better than fresh ones.

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William Sander
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