By Sally Blanchard                                                                                                           

In Almost Every Seed Mix                                                                                                                                                

When I look through parrot seed mixes - particularly those in the chain pet stores - they are full of animal grade peanuts. Just because peanuts are in almost every seed mix that you can buy, doesn't mean they are healthy for our parrots. If you buy a parrot seed mix with peanuts - take them out and feed them to the squirrels outside. Start feeding quality human-grade nuts such as almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts and if you have big macaw macadamias. They are expensive but most macaws love them. These nuts also have better nutrition than peanuts. Almonds have some calcium and pistachios have some vitamin A. Peanuts are not really even nuts - they are legumes and grow in the ground. They can grow aflatoxins during the growing and drying process. Animal grade peanuts are a common food for pigs but even human-grade peanuts may be problematic.  

Why Are They Bad for Parrots?
Why am I so adamant about not feeding peanuts to parrots when they have been a pet industry staple for as long as parrot seed mixes have been produced? Because animal grade peanuts and even human-grade peanuts to a lesser degree can contain aflatoxins.

Years ago I read an article about peanuts in Science Magazine. The article basically discussed the fact that ingested aflatoxins from peanuts can cause brain lesions. At that point, I removed peanuts from my parrots' diet. If you insist on feeding peanuts, make sure that they are absolutely human-grade, roasted, and not salted but I would still not recommend them if you love your parrots.

Reprinted from Wikipedia:
Aflatoxins are naturally-occurring mycotoxins that are produced by many species of Aspergillus, a fungus, most notably Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Aflatoxins are toxic and among the most carcinogenic substances known.

Feeding Quality Nuts
If your parrots love their peanuts - it shouldn't take very long to switch them over to healthy nuts. Small parrots and those that have a problem with fat in their diets (cockatoos) should be limited in the number of nuts they receive. Chopping a nut into small pieces and putting them in foraging toys works well for these birds.

If you feed nuts in the shell because your parrot loves to shell them, examine the shell carefully. When you pick out quality nuts in the shell, look at the shell carefully to make sure that it is fresh, clean, and has no mold or black spotting on it. It the nut is completely sealed by the shell - wash it before feeding. Keep nuts in a netted bag, in a clean dry cool area (not the refrigerator), and put the date on the outside of the bag. If they go beyond a year, they are probably best fed to the squirrels in the yard. If they look moldy or tainted, throw them away.

Always inspect the shells and nutmeat on any nuts that you feed your parrots to make sure that they are clean and fresh. Please also read the other article in this section, Nuts to Your Parrots





Pine Nuts






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