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Home > Birds > Can Parrots Eat Raspberries? Our Vet Answers

Can Parrots Eat Raspberries? Our Vet Answers

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Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

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Parrots are fascinating exotic pets kept by avian enthusiasts all over the world, perhaps best known for their ability to mimic human speech.

When it comes to keeping your parrot healthy, diet plays a major role. Proper food choices depend on the species of parrot that you have. A questionable addition to a parrot’s diet is fruits.

Raspberries are edible fruits that are a staple in multiple cuisines. As the owner of a parrot, you might have noticed your pet showing an interest in these fruits. If you’re wondering whether it’s okay to give some to your parrot, the good news is that raspberries are safe for parrots in moderation.

If you want to learn more about how raspberries affect birds and the role that they can have in their diet, read on!

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Can Parrots Eat Raspberries?

Inherently, raspberries are not toxic for parrots and they can safely consume them. Though all species of parrots can consume raspberries safely, this article will specifically focus on macaws. Examples of macaws include the Hahn’s macaw (Diopsittaca nobilis), scarlet macaw (Ara macao), and the blue-and-gold macaw (Ara ararauna).

Like most fruits, raspberries are primarily composed of water and carbohydrates in the form of naturally occurring sugars and fiber (the amount varies by the fruit). These sugars are what give fruits their sweetness. The rest of a fruit typically contains lower amounts of protein and fat, as well as varying amounts of vitamins and minerals.1

Key Nutritional Information of 100 Grams (Approximately 3.5 Ounces) of Raw, Fresh Raspberries
  • Water: 85.6 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrates: 12.9 (sugars: 2.68 grams)
  • Fiber: 6.5 g
  • Protein: 1.01 g
  • Fat: 0.19 g

Though raspberries do contain several minerals and vitamins, it is important to note that because they would make up a small portion of your pet’s diet, these benefits too would be minimal. Furthermore, though humans tout the Vitamin C benefits of raspberries, this vitamin isn’t essential for parrots, as they can make it themselves. However, a parrot that is ill or recovering from an ailment may benefit from having their diet supplemented with additional sources of this vitamin.

Macaws will often readily consume raspberries, as they are natural frugivores (fruit eaters). However, individuals that aren’t used to the fruit might not accept it at first and might need time or encouragement from other members of their flock (including you!) to recognize that it’s a food item.

When offered in moderation, fruit can be beneficial to a macaw’s health. Most veterinarians advise controlling their portion due to the nutritional nature of parrots as pets, which we’ll discuss later.

raspberries fruit
Image Credit: Ulrike Leone, Pixabay

What Parts of Raspberries Can Parrots Eat?

Parrots can eat the entire fruit itself with no issue. The leaves are considered safe for them to eat; however, most parrots may not care too much for the leaves and focus on the fruit itself.

Raspberries have very tiny seeds within the juicy layers of the fruit. These are considered safe for parrots and don’t pose any health risks.

Before You Feed Raspberries to a Parrot

Any fruit you offer to your parrot should be prepared the same way you would prepare fruit for human consumption.

Serving Raspberries to Your Parrot
  • Only offer your parrot fresh, raw raspberries.
  • Thoroughly wash the fruit under water.
  • Macaws prefer foods they can hold in their claws; therefore, cutting the raspberry is not needed. Cutting it too small may lead to your pet not feeling enticed enough to try something they can’t grasp in their claw.
  • Remember that fruit sludges and spoils very quickly. Macaws are messy eaters and will often eat parts of a fruit and discard the rest. You should ensure you clean up any leftover fruit no more than 2–4 hours after it is served to your macaw.
Beautiful Parrot playing in an aviary
Image Credit: Tracy Starr, Shutterstock

How Often Can You Feed Parrots Raspberries?

Most veterinarians advise that fruit should only be offered as an occasional treat for macaws. Generally speaking, unless your veterinarian has advised a different meal plan for your pet, if you’re offering your macaw raspberries, they should be offered once a week or once every other week in an amount not exceeding 5% of their fruit intake for the day. It is, however, important to ensure they receive different safe to eat fruits on a regular basis.

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Parrot Nutrition Info

Wild Parrots

The nutrition of parrots kept as pets is a very complex topic. Inherently, most wild parrots have a diet that is very unique to their role in the ecosystem. Several species are granivores (seed eaters), while other species (including macaws) are frugivores, which means they primarily eat fruits and play an important role by dispersing seeds in nature. Still others, such as lorikeets, are nectarivores. These parrots are specialized to consume nectar from flowering plants, and they play a very important role in pollination.

A key aspect of the lifestyle of wild parrots that sets them apart from parrots kept as pets is that they often spend most of their time flying. In addition, they are faced with other challenges that pet parrots don’t face: predators, uncertain weather, and seasonal changes in food availability. As a result, wild parrots are often fine eating a large amount of seeds, fruits, vegetation, and whatever else they can find. Simply put, they get enough mileage from flying and finding food that the highly dense caloric value of the foods they eat isn’t an issue, and rather considered necessary for their survival.

colorful parrots flying in the sky
Image By: Passakorn Umpornmaha, Shutterstock

Pet Parrots

The life of a pet parrot is quite different. They often lead relatively sedentary lives, and even when allowed out of their cage to fly and exercise (an important part of pet parrot welfare), they never fly to the extent that wild parrots do. In addition, they don’t have to find their food, as it’s offered to them daily by their caretakers. The problem is made worse by the fact that many parrots quickly develop favoritism for certain foods or seeds and refuse to eat other foods offered to them.

This presents a unique challenge for pet parrot owners. Not only would it be nearly impossible to source the food their pet’s wild cousins consume, it’s likely that overconsumption of those foods would lead to an obese pet simply because our pet parrots do not get enough exercise to justify such a diet.

The veterinary world’s solution to this conundrum was the formation of pellets for pet parrots. These are specifically formulated to meet most of the nutritional requirements of pet parrots, while at the same time ensuring that they don’t overeat and gain too much weight as pets. Pellets are a homogeneous mixture of several different ingredients, which makes it so that your parrot cannot pick and choose what they like to eat.

However, to date, no pellet has been proven or is considered to be nutritionally complete for any parrot species. Therefore, though pellets make the task of feeding a pet parrot much easier, your parrot cannot be fed pellets alone. They need their diet supplemented with other foods. The generally accepted nutritional composition for most pet parrots is as follows.

Parrot Nutrition
  • Pellets: Around 75%
  • Vegetables: Around 15–20%
  • Nuts & Protein: Around 5–10%
  • Fruit: A very small fraction (around 5% at most)

Please note that these are just a guideline, and the needs of your pet will vary significantly based on their age, nutritional needs, reproductive status, and general health. It is always best to consult your exotic or avian veterinarian to come up with a nutritional plan that works for your pet.

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Final Thoughts

Like most fruits, raspberries are safe for parrots to consume and can be incorporated into their diet safely. It is, however, best to consult your veterinarian for a meal plan that works for your particular parrot.

Macaws, like other parrots, do best on a diet high in variety, and therefore, it is important to not make raspberries the only fruit you offer your pet.

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Featured Image Credit: Heidelbergerin, Pixabay

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