Tomatoes are the most consumed fruit in the world, and to share them with your pet parrot seems obvious. But, first, you need to know, can parrots eat tomatoes?
When fed in moderated amounts, yes, your parrot can eat tomatoes. Yet, there are many reasons why you might not want to feed them this delicious but nutritious fruit.
How to Prepare Tomatoes for Parrots to Eat
If you’re set on sharing your love of this juicy red produce with your beaked buddy, you’ll have to follow some rules to do it. This starts with the choice of tomatoes.
First, don’t choose green tomatoes. Unripe fruits have far higher levels of toxins than they will once mature.
Opt for larger tomatoes over cherry and plum tomatoes. This may seem counterintuitive, but the smaller ones are more toxic.
Don’t buy tomatoes still on the vine. If you’re picking them from your garden, make sure to completely remove the vine and leaves.
Choose cooked or dried tomatoes over raw. They have lower acidity, toxins, and some nutrients actually increase due to processing. Avoid canned tomatoes completely.
Once you have selected your fruit, the first part of preparation is washing it if it’s fresh. You want to clear off any pesticide residue, dirt, dust, and tiny critters.
Take special care to remove any remaining stem or bits of the leaves. This of the plant can be toxic if to your parrot, so it’s important that none makes it to their plate.
To serve raw tomato, you should cut a small part relative to the size of your bird. So, for a grey parrot, a chunk roughly 3/4 inch square makes for a safe treat.
For smaller parrots, scale down. In all cases, limit this treat to once a week or less to avoid health complications.
Dried tomatoes are far less dangerous. You should limit their consumption to one slice a week, though you can chop it into smaller bits and give it.
As for tomato-based sauces, you can serve a little to your parrot. Double-check the sauce is cooked and contains no added salt, sugar, or spices.
Mix a spoonful with cooked pasta to give your parrot the Italian experience.
Are Tomatoes Good for Parrots?
With warnings on how to prepare tomatoes, you can kind of guess there are better alternatives.
Remember those toxins I mentioned? Solanine and Tomatine, both alkaloids, are also members of the nightshade family.
Alkaloids in tomatoes are less poisonous than the Belladonna but still potent enough to kill your bird. Tomato vines and leaves contain enough of these poisons to be fatal.
Even if your parrot consumes a little bit of this greenery. The flesh of a ripe tomato has far less of these compounds present, which is why your parrot can eat them at all.
The high acidity of the flesh is what dictates the tiny portions. Tomatoes are high in citric and malic acid. This can wreak havoc on a parrot’s insides, causing gastrointestinal damage and ulcers.
You can avoid these symptoms by taking precautions, but it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the risk.
Tomatoes do have many health benefits, such as their high lycopene content. This antioxidant is good for your bird’s heart, fights cancer, and even reduces the risk of sunburn.
Vitamins in Tomatoes include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B9 (folate)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Vitamin A is good for your parrot’s sight and immune functions, whilst Vit C helps fight sickness. Pyridoxine helps with red blood cell counts, whilst folate helps with cognitive function.
Minerals in tomatoes include:
Calcium is best known for its role in bone health and also benefits your bird’s muscle and nerve functions. Phosphorus assists in waste elimination and the formation of DNA and RNA.
The potassium keeps fluids regulated, and plays an important role in nerve functioning.