|Photo by tamburix|
Actually, peanuts are seeds, not nuts and they grow underground, they are from the legume family. Their environment is damp, warm and dark which gives the best condition for mold and fungal growth. Actually, those traces of a mold called Aspergillus flavus cause the problem with peanuts. The toxic substance -
Aflatoxin is in fact produced by Aspergillus flavus. It is known that Aflatoxins cause severe liver damage for humans and animals and they are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). The level of toxicity depends on the amount of toxin ingested at one time, age, size, accumulation of the toxin, etc.
If the officials detect contamination after inspecting all peanuts for sale in this country, they reject them. The USDA and The FDA determine the safe levels for Aflatoxin in human foodstuffs and if the product is dangerous, they ban it from going to market. But this safe amount of traces of Aflatoxin in pet food is not very clear, especially for such small creatures as birds.
So the question- are the peanuts bad for your pet birds?- still remains unanswered for all pet owners. Some of them continue to feed their pet birds with peanuts, of course, the amounts are not big and they announce that they haven’t found any ill effect. They assume peanuts as high-energy nutritional and because their birds love them and have fun, they outweigh the risk.
If you have decided to feed your pet bird with peanuts, neglecting the risk, there are some precautions to avoid the deadly Aflatoxins:
1) Be informed about the recent research on pet bird consumption of peanuts
2) The risk of Aflatoxins in dried, heated peanuts is lower so you’d better feed your pet bird unsalted, roasted peanuts
3) To decrease the risk of the growth of Aspergillus Flavus - if you feed your bird raw peanuts, you must be sure they have been grown, stored and shipped properly
4) Give your pet birds no more than 2 or 3 peanuts daily
5) Valencia or Spanish peanuts contain fewer Aflatoxins so use them if it is possible
6) Human grade peanuts are less contaminated than birdseed mixes or animal feed
7) Buy your peanuts from reliable and quality sources you can trust
Consider carefully the risks and benefits of using peanuts as food for your pet birds and the decision is up to you.