The parrot and Cocoa


can parrots eat chocolate

Can parrots eat chocolate:A reader wrote to me about a text read in a book referring to the feeding of parrots in the wild, which, by its lack of precision, suggested that the cocoa tree and its pods were not not toxic to parrots !!!

Here is the extract:
” The Brazilians give the name of ‘mange-cacao’ to the Amazons, because they delight in the pods of the cocoa tree. ”

A harmless sentence, but very insidious if interpreted out of context …

Can parrots eat chocolate

Chocolate is well known to be toxic to dogs and cats due to a substance called theobromine . It is an alkaloid responsible for digestive, cardiac and nervous disorders. Chocolate is just as toxic to Parrots.

In all its forms, chocolate is a food to be avoided in your bird’s diet. Do not give chocolate to your birds even if they ask for it. You would give them poison.

Can parrots eat chocolate

what can birds not eat

Why is chocolate toxic?

It’s because of theobromine, a molecule found in cocoa that chocolate contains. For humans, theobromine is safe because our body manages to break it down before it accumulates and becomes toxic. In addition, given the low weight of a bird, the toxic dose is reached very quickly.

What to do if your bird has eaten chocolate?

Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. If you have the absorbed product in your possession, take it with you and show it to your veterinarian. If this is not the case, note precisely the beginning of the symptoms and their evolution. Remember that it is on the speed of intervention that the survival of your bird depends.

Can parrots eat chocolate

African grey toxic foods

Prevention to avoid worries.

Several small actions can be taken daily to prevent poisoning:

  • At parties, be vigilant and advise your guests and their children not to give chocolate to your bird.
  • Explain to those who share your home why you should not give chocolate to your pet.
  • Your bird should not have access to chocolate decorations or forgotten chocolates during the Easter egg hunt.
  • Store the chocolate in a place that your bird cannot open.
  • Try to eat chocolate out of your bird’s sight.
  • Don’t give chocolate as a reward, opt for a safe treat.

Let’s set the record straight

The cocoa tree theobrina cacao ( which means “food of the gods”) is native to South America, it is a crop of the tropics. Cocoa is cultivated for its beans contained in large pods growing directly on the trunk and branches of the tree. Each pod contains about a third of its weight in beans surrounded by a white pulp. This pulp and the beans are extracted from the pod and left to ferment. The fermented and dried beans are then processed in chocolate factories, where they are first roasted to induce the development of the desired flavor and aroma. After cooling, the beans are crushed and the hulls removed by winnowing. The cocoa beans are ground to obtain the cocoa mass or chocolate liquor, from which the butter will be extracted by pressing.

So much for the little story … let’s get down to business now.

the parrot and Cocoa

Parrot toxicity

You should know that the leaves and pods of the cocoa tree are very toxic to birds, dogs, cats and… humans. The active ingredients are xanthic bases ( theobromine, caffeine and theophylline ) which are powerful stimulants and highly toxic alkaloids in certain concentrations ( irritability, agitation, increased heart rate, etc. ). They are also powerful tonic cardiacs and bronchodilators ( dilates the bronchi ) which are used sparingly in the treatment of asthma.

The smaller the animal, the faster the lethal dose is reached ( hepatic and cardiac failure ). The cocoa beans once processed (cocoa powder or butter ) become concentrates of theobromine, caffeine and theophylline, unlike the pod taken directly from the tree which contains few of these alkaloids, but still enough to cause harm considerable to the bird, if swallowed in large quantities.

cocoa bean
chocolate milk
chocolate semi-sweet
chocolate dark chocolate (Bakers)
hot chocolate cookie  (6 oz cup)
instant cocoa cocoa
powder (unsweetened)
Tootsie Roll’s
Theobromine mg / oz
Caffeine mg / oz

So it would be wrong to believe that the toxicity of cocoa in parrots is only a small subject that one could afford to take lightly.

the parrot and Cocoa

In nature

So, in their natural habitat, animals know for granted what is good and what is not for them and they also know by instruction and imitation how to counter the toxic effects of certain foods which they ingest. This information is passed from generation to generation. The best example of this is the parrots in Manu Park in Peru who will gorge themselves on clay after consuming inedible or downright poisonous plants. Even humans know they can trust the skills of these animals when it comes to poisoning. The natives learned through bird watching how to make clay potions after consuming the succulent sweet fruit of the cocoa tree.

Symptoms of cocoa poisoning

The ingredients in chocolate ( theobromine, caffeine, theophylline ) are very strong alkaloids which can cause cardiac or respiratory arrest soon after ingestion, depending on the amount ingested. The clinical signs of poisoning are: prostration, regurgitation, diarrhea, convulsion and death.

the parrot and Cocoa

Actions to take with your parrot in case of cocoa poisoning

The circumstances of poisoning arise from the ingestion of the hulls used in horticulture or by the direct ingestion of chocolate.

  • Make your parrot vomit immediately or up to one hour after absorption.
  • Give activated charcoal for 2 to 3 days, the latter does not absorb these alkaloids but accelerates their degradation in the blood.
  • There is no known antidote.
  • Do not give lidocaine, erythromycin, or corticosteroids.
  • Keep the parrot warm and quickly run to a vet for supportive treatments.

Can parrots eat chocolate

the parrot and Cocoa

Ultimately, the best is not to take any risks by eating or leaving chocolate lying around near a parrot… you never know!

Is chocolate poisonous to Parrot



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