Can Parrots Eat Dandelion? 

Did you know that there are all sorts of home-grown foods and even weeds that your parrot will see as a delicacy? What about something along the lines of that most common weed, the dandelion? Can parrots eat dandelions?

The simple answer is Yes, parrots can eat dandelions, and this common plant has many health benefits for pet birds.

Can Pet Parrots Eat Dandelion? What are the benefits?

If you’ve been a parrot owner for a while, you’ll know that variety is key to keeping our feathered pets happy and healthy. A parrot in the wild will have a varied diet, which should also apply to your pet. After all, feeding it all sorts of different foods is the best way to make sure it gets all the nutrients it needs!

You may feel that feeding your parrot dandelions is a bit out there. But is it? Remember, many parrots love their greens. Perhaps you have previously offered yours something like kale, spinach or various other plants. But have you ever thought about looking away from the vegetable aisle and into your garden?

If not, then can we suggest you do that, and the first plant to try is one that you may already unintentionally grow: the dandelion, scientifically known as Taraxacum sp.

So, can parrots eat dandelion?

The dandelion is one of many ‘weeds’ that can be a food source for your parrot. So yes, parrots can eat dandelions. In fact, this weed is actually great for them. Many experts even believe the dandelion is a ‘superfood’ for your parrot (and for us humans, too, actually!)

There are a few things you should keep in mind if you’d like to feed weeds like dandelion to your parrot, which we’ll discuss below.

Can Pet Parrots Eat Dandelion and what are the health benefits?

Dandelion health benefits

What’s all this talk about ‘superfoods’? Are dandelions really that good for parrots and even humans? Actually, yes. A nice dandelion salad offers all sorts of health benefits for you and your bird.

The plant itself is well known for its ability to improve liver health. It encourages the body to remove toxins that can build up as a result of an improper diet or environmental issues. Liver problems are a common potential issue for pet parrots, so this is kind of a big deal.

The detoxifying properties of dandelion come from both the roots and leaves. However, the leaves come with additional health advantages, which we will cover in a bit. 

More about liver issues

Often, a parrot develops liver issues due to one of two reasons.

First off, an inadequate diet can cause problems. Too often, we rely on what we think works best for our parrots instead of giving them variety. This lack of variety can lead to problems. Remember: parrots will always source a range of different foods in the wild, so captive birds must get the same type of diet. A poor diet lacking in the correct nutrients can lead to vitamin deficiencies and puts extra strain on the liver.

The other main reason is related to weight gain. Obesity in domestic parrots is very common, mostly thanks to a poor diet and not being able to fly enough. Keeping these birds in their cage without any real exercise will almost always lead to them packing on the pounds, which can massively affect liver functioning.

As you work on getting your parrot back to normal weight, feeding dandelion can help give the liver a little extra health boost.

Did you know? Another garden weed commonly used to help prevent and combat liver issues in parrots and other birds is milk thistle.

Other health benefits of dandelions

In humans, the dandelion can work as a diuretic, allowing us to remove water from our bodies. This also helps flush out toxins and other built-up nasties from the body.

The thing is: a parrot does not deal with its bodily wastes in the same way as humans do. This means dandelion doesn’t quite work as a diuretic, but the good news is that it does still help with waste excretion. This is why it’s already sometimes used as a dietary supplement for poultry like chickens. Quite a few studies exploring the advantages of this plant for birds have already been carried out.

Basically, a parrot will convert waste into uric acid, as they have no bladder for urine to collect in. So, anything that can stop too much uric acid building in the body is excellent. That is where the dandelion can come in handy. Giving your parrot dandelions regularly helps them regulate their uric acid content. While uric acid itself is not toxic, your parrot can develop crystals in their system, not dissimilar to how us humans can develop painful kidney stones.

The crystals in question can eventually lead to something called avian gout. This can affect their kidneys, heart, and joints, often leading to (severe) pain. Sadly, avian gout can even prove fatal in severe cases, especially if you fail to provide the medical attention your bird needs. Although feeding dandelion is by no means a complete treatment, it can definitely be a natural part of one.

What about older parrots?

As an animal ages, you must pay closer attention to what you feed them, as their bodies may need a little extra attention. A parrot is no exception. 

Luckily, dandelions may prove even more beneficial for older parrots than for their younger counterparts. In this instance, the leaves and other parts of the plant may act similar to a tonic to help improve any potential arthritic issues. The plant is rich in Vitamins A, B1, and C, which all help the general health of your parrot. 

Which parts can they eat?

Dandelion - What Part Can Of the Plant Can Be Eaten By Parrot

Your parrot will love to munch away on any part of the dandelion plant. Even the roots can be consumed; just make sure you wash the plant thoroughly before feeding it to your feathered pet. Remove all traces of soil and give the whole thing a good rinse just in case.

After picking your dandelion, you have a couple of options:

  • Feed whole
  • Chop before feeding
  • Juice to make a dandelion drink
  • Dry (in a dehydrator, for example) for future use

Can you feed the flowers?

Although dandelion leaves are the healthiest and most nutritious part of this plant, your parrot can also eat the flowers. Even the seeds are fine, although your bird may not be crazy about their fluffy texture.

Just give different parts of the dandelion plant a try and see what your parrot thinks! Even if it’s not a fan, at least you introduced something new for it to explore, which is always a plus for these curious and brainy birds.

Is big or small better?

If you have dandelions in your garden, you’ll know they can grow to an impressive size. However, bigger isn’t always better! Many believe that smaller dandelion leaves have a higher nutritional value than larger leaves. That being said, of course any type of greenery is better than no greenery at all.

Will my parrot actually like dandelion?

While we cannot offer any guarantee, your parrot will probably love munching on a freshly picked dandelion. The leaves have a slightly bitter taste, but that doesn’t appear to stop most birds. Additionally, all those tiny flower petals are mighty fun to pick out and destroy, with the flower itself being attractive due to its bright yellow colour. Parrots love anything bright.

If you have never fed dandelion to your parrot before, we suggest giving it a go. You will probably see your parrot go crazy for them, and this new snack will vanish in very little time. 

Will my Parrot Eat Dandelion?

Grow or buy?

Before you run out to pick some dandelion by the roadside, consider pollution and pesticides. Any zones you pick weeds from to feed to your parrot should be entirely free of any harmful substances!

Dandelions growing by a road may be polluted with fine particles emitted by cars’ exhausts, which isn’t exactly something you want to be feeding to a bird. The same applies if you use pesticides in your garden. You’ll want something 100% organic instead.

If you’re not able to safely pick dandelions from a garden or in the wild, don’t worry, there are other options. You can grow this weed in a container on a balcony or even indoors. Aside from this, you can also buy it in various forms (mostly dried).

Although it may feel a bit silly to pay money for a fast-growing garden weed, the advantage of buying is that there’s no risk of contamination. This is because the dandelions in question will have been grown with consumption by animals or humans in mind.

Can parrots eat dandelion? Our final thoughts

You have nothing to worry about regarding feeding your parrot any part of a dandelion. Your parrot will probably love it. The plant will also help support its general health, including blood and liver function. It’s packed full of nutrients and vitamins and can act as a natural parrot tonic.

Do remember to double check no pesticides were sprayed near the dandelion plant. You can do this by growing your own organically or buying from a reputable source online.

Want to know more about what your pet parrot should be eating? After all, dandelion alone is obviously not going to sustain your bird. Have a look at our full article on parrot diet for everything else you need to know about putting together healthy daily meals for your feathered friend.

Qureshi, S., Adil, S., Abd El-Hack, M. E., Alagawany, M., & Farag, M. R. (2017). Beneficial uses of dandelion herb (Taraxacum officinale) in poultry nutrition. World’s Poultry Science Journal73(3), 591-602.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Parrots can eat dandelion leaves as long as they have not been sprayed with pesticides.

  2. Good morning Anguel,
    I haven’t tried my present parrots with dandelions but when we had the aviaries the dandelions were very much enjoyed.At the moment our dandelions are covered in six feet of snow!!
    My little one will try anything, loves all kinds of berries, lettuce, banana, apple, but he was used to that. The cockatiel will only eat lettuce but he didn’t have a good start in life. The Grey will eat all sorts of things.
    Thanks for the article,
    Liz.

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