Avian veterinarians provided numerous information on the proper nutritional diet for companion birds, the parrot being one of them. So, using this information, we can answer the question: can parrots eat tomatoes? Let’s find out.
According to the American Federation of Aviculture, tomatoes function as a treat for parrots. Parrot owners attested to the birds’ love of tomatoes (specifically vine-ripe tomatoes). However, avian veterinarians do not recommend making it a permanent addition to their diet.
Parrots love tomatoes, but it doesn’t mean that it’s good for them even if they love them. With that in mind, keep reading for more information on whether parrots can eat tomatoes.
Can Parrots Eat Tomatoes?
For anyone interested in having a companion parrot, you’ve probably come across the fact that they flourish when eating fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. They should have an all-rounded diet giving them all the nutrients they need to live healthily and have a longer life span.
So in this category of fruits and vegetables, you have thousands to choose from, and the tomato is one of them. If you didn’t know, a tomato is both a fruit and vegetable, but the main question here is whether it’s a healthy addition to your parrot’s diet.
Are Tomatoes Bad For Parrots?
The American Federation of Aviculture shared that parrots love two types of tomatoes:
- Vine-ripe tomatoes
- Green tomatoes
Many of the parrot owners in this association shared that they would have gardens and grow tomatoes from the ground up. It doesn’t necessarily mean you should have a garden; you can still find organic versions of these tomatoes in stores.
Regardless, tomatoes are bad for parrots because of their acidic nature. According to experts, tomatoes have a pH level of 4.3 – 4.9, with green tomatoes being more acidic than riper tomatoes. In humans, the acidic content of tomatoes can cause acid reflux and heartburn. What about parrots?
A parrot’s digestive system is far different from a human’s. For starters, a parrot can eat 20% or more of its body weight daily. They have a higher body temperature and higher metabolism, thus breaking down food faster.
When your parrot consumes a high amount of tomatoes, the stomach’s environment will turn acidic. The acid will start to break down the stomach walls causing ulcers.
Ulcers will make it difficult for your parrot to digest other foods and eventually cause malnutrition. Your parrot will choose not to eat because eating causes pain, and no one likes pain.
What Are The Benefits Of Tomatoes?
If you give tomatoes in small quantities and as a rare treat, you can help prevent nutrition-related disorders. Please note that your parrot can get the same vitamins from other fruits and vegetables that are not acidic.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common nutrient-related disorders. According to their instinct, parrots will choose seeds over any other food as part of their diet. Not only that but, nature wired their brain to eat a lot of it.
Seeds are also part of the parrots’ diet in the wild. However, they do not contain vitamin A. A lack of vitamin A causes:
- It makes the skin, foot, and feathers susceptible to fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
- It also compromises a bird’s immune system, making the parrot susceptible to illnesses.
- It severely affects the respiratory system causing difficulty breathing.
Tomatoes contain vitamin A, but avian vets will not recommend them because there are other fruits and vegetables that you can add to their diet instead. Be sure to keep reading for tips on your parrot’s dietary needs.
Are Parrots Smart Enough Not To Eat Tomatoes?
Many experts consider parrots to be intelligent animals. Why? One of the reasons is that parrots are capable of complex vocalization. They are also problem solvers. So why do parrots want to eat tomatoes?
A study showed that parrots exhibited generalist herbivore behavior. They will consume seeds despite their toxic nature; similarly, tomatoes have high acidic levels that cause ulcers in parrots.
It is why despite their negative impact on parrots, they love them. You can compare it to sugar; sugar (in large quantities) isn’t good for the human body. However, we still eat it because sugar’s sweet flavor added to food is delicious.
Parrots love tomatoes in the same manner. They find it delicious even though it’s terrible (in large quantities) for their digestive system.
What Does A Parrott Eat?
According to the Association of Avian Veterinarians, parrots should have a diet that promotes health. They recommend pelleted diets because they are chock-full of the necessary nutrients and minerals. But a little treat never hurt anybody.
Nevertheless, seeds are still a staple and are a great addition to their diet. It would be helpful to add supplements to a seed-based diet. It’s not mandatory, but you need to supply the missing nutrients to their diet.
Be sure to give your parrot healthy treats that add to their diet and do not pose any risk to their general health. Here’s a list of fruits and vegetables you can give to your parrot. They are also chock-full of vitamin A:
- Green beans
- Jalapeños (parrots love Jalapeños or any other chili peppers)
Disclaimer: Spinach, chard, parsley, and other vegetables contain oxalic acid. It makes it so that your parrot cannot use the calcium that the greens contain. The same applies to the human digestive system.
Experts recommend adding food rich in calcium to reduce the risk of a calcium deficiency which is another common nutrient-based disorder.
Can Quaker Parrots Eat Tomatoes?
Quaker parrots are just like any other parrots. Avian vets do not recommend giving tomatoes to them, lest the acid levels in their stomachs increase.
What Can One Parrot Do?
It would be in your best interest and that of your parrot to steer away from tomatoes. You can add better alternatives to their diet without compromising part of their digestive system.
- Nikki Moustaki, Parrots For Dummies, (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2005) 392.
- American Federation of Aviculture
- Gilardi, James D, and Catherine A Toft. “Parrots eat nutritious foods despite toxins.” PloS one vol. 7,6 (2012): e38293. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038293
- Association of Avian Veterinarians