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Can Cockatoos Eat Carrots? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Caring for a bird is hard work, and that work goes far beyond cleaning their cage and spending time with them. You also need to do your research on what you can feed them and how to give them a balanced and nutritious diet.

Part of that nutritious diet can certainly be carrots! They’re extremely safe for your cockatoo, and they have tons of helpful nutrients. But what should you do when you’re feeding your cockatoo carrots, and how many carrots are too many?

We answer both those questions before diving into everything else that you need to know about a cockatoo’s diet in this comprehensive guide.

divider-birdsGiving Your Cockatoos Carrots

While you can give your cockatoo carrots, there are a few things that you should do first. Start by peeling and washing the carrots to remove any dirt, grime, or chemicals that might be on the outside.

This is especially important if you’re using store-bought carrots. Even small amounts of pesticides left on the carrot can have big impacts on your cockatoo’s health, so peel and wash every time.

From there, simply cut the carrots up into smaller chunks so your cockatoo can pick them up with their beak and eat them without too much work.

sliced carrots on the table
Image Credit: Piqsels

Ideal Cockatoo Diet

While it is safe to give carrots to your cockatoo, there is a limit to how much you should give them. Here is a quick run-down of the ideal cockatoo diet.

The vast majority of a cockatoo’s diet should be commercialized pellets. These have everything that your cockatoo needs to survive, and they aren’t high in fat like seeds and other bird foods are.

While it can be challenging to introduce pellets to a cockatoo, they’re an essential part of their diet, and it’s what you need to do to keep them happy and healthy.

While pellets give your cockatoo everything that they need, they’ll undoubtedly appreciate a bit of variety, and if you mix things up the right way, it’s actually good for them!

While about 75% of their diet should consist of commercialized pellets, the remaining 25% should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables. Great choices include carrots, kale, spinach, apples, and watermelon.

Always wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly, and chop them up into bite-sized chunks for your cockatoo.

Best Fruits and Vegetables for Cockatoos

When you’re selecting fruits and veggies for your cockatoo, you want to do your best to mix things up. Different vegetables and fruits provide different nutrients for your feathered friend, so don’t stick with the same things over and over.

The best choices for your cockatoo include kale, mango, broccoli, papaya, peas, green beans, and tomatoes. There are plenty of other fruits and veggies that your cockatoo can safely handle, but if you’re unsure, always double-check before feeding them your bird.

sliced mango
Image Credit: Piqsels

Other Cockatoo Treats

While your cockatoo doesn’t necessarily need anything beyond pellets, fruits, and veggies, that doesn’t mean you can’t give them the occasional treat. Your cockatoo will undoubtedly appreciate something out of the ordinary.

Here, we highlighted three ideal snack options for your bird.

Popcorn

If you’re settling down for a movie night, why not give your cockatoo some popcorn for the show? Popcorn is a great treat for birds, but ensure that you’re not using a salted or buttered variety. You need completely plain popcorn to avoid any complications.

Popcorn on a table
Image Credit: stevepb, Pixabay

Seeds

While seeds might be high in fat, there’s no doubt that birds love them. As long as you’re not transitioning your bird off of a seed-based diet, there’s no harm to giving them seeds as occasional treats.

Peanut Butter and Crackers

peanut butter on bread
Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

We’ve yet to find a bird that won’t happily chow down on peanut butter. Since peanut butter can be a sticky mess, it’s best to put it on something like an unsalted cracker to help make the process easier.

Just be aware that if you’re giving your bird peanut butter and crackers, you should expect a bit of a mess.

divider-bird

Fruits and Vegetables to Avoid Giving Your Cockatoo

While there are plenty of great fruits and vegetables to give your cockatoo, there are also a few that you should stay away from. Topping this list are avocados. Every part of an avocado is extremely toxic to birds, so whatever you do, you need to keep them away from your cockatoo.

Other vegetables that you should avoid are celery, iceberg lettuce, and other pale vegetables. These vegetables won’t hurt your cockatoo but they carry almost no nutritional value. This means your cockatoo will chow down and feel full, but they won’t get the necessary nutrients to stay healthy.

Other Foods to Avoid Giving Your Cockatoo

While there are plenty of foods that you can watch your cockatoo chow down on, there are also more than a few that you need to avoid. In addition to avocados, here are four more common foods that you need to keep far away from your cockatoo.

Chocolate

There are few foods as toxic to birds as chocolate. It actually has two different ingredients that can kill your cockatoo: caffeine and theobromine.

These two ingredients can cause your bird to develop diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, seizures, and even death. Keep chocolate far away from your cockatoo.

chocolate bars piled up
Image Credit: Enotovyj, Pixabay

Salt

Salt is probably something that you don’t think about too often, but to your bird, even a little salt is a big deal. They’re far smaller than us, and they simply can’t handle much of the stuff. In fact, a single potato chip can have enough salt to kill your cockatoo! Keep salt far away.

Fruit Pits and Seeds

While fruits are great for your bird, their pits and seeds can be toxic. Almost every fruit pit and seed contains cyanide. While it’s a small enough amount that humans don’t need to worry about it, for your bird, it can be too much.

To make matters worse, birds love to gobble up the seeds right away, so you always need to double-check that you’ve removed the pit and all the seeds of a fruit before giving it to your bird.

pumpkin seeds_Pixabay
Image Credit; Pixabay

Cheese

Birds aren’t mammals. One implication of this fact that often gets overlooked is that they don’t have the necessary enzymes to break down lactose.

All birds are extremely lactose intolerant, which means that any dairy products are a no-go. The best-case scenario is an extra cleanup of the cage and slight discomfort for your bird, but too much dairy will have you taking your bird to the vet.

divider-birdsFinal Thoughts

The next time that you’re looking in your refrigerator or walking down the produce aisle in the store, feel free to grab a few carrots for your cockatoo. But don’t stop there. Grab other fruits and veggies for them to pick through, and watch them chow down the next time that you feed them!

While caring for a bird might be a ton of work, the love and affection that they give you when you’re properly taking care of them make it all worth it.


Featured Image Credit: Vishnevskiy Vasily, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.