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Product Review: Vitakraft’s Sprout Pot – a Convenient Method of Supplying Your Birds with Valuable Nutrients


On of my first jobs as a fledgling keeper at the Bronx Zoo was distributing grass sprouts at the World of Birds building.  Grown hydroponically (in water, without soil) the tiny green shoots were relished by nearly all of the zoo’s vast bird collection, from finches to ostriches.  Sprouts were given to the majority of the zoo’s other animals as well, including beetles, tortoises, elephants, squirrels and even supposed die-hard carnivores such as otters and weasels. 


Why Use Sprouts?

Zoologists and experienced aviculturists know that sprouting plants are packed with all of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and trace elements that are needed to get the plant off to a good start.  What’s more, these nutrients are in an easily digestible state, much more so than later on in the plant’s life.  The animal consuming sprouts spends little metabolic energy to reap great health benefits.


I have noticed that sprouts are sometimes overlooked as a food source for pet birds, despite the fact that they represent the easiest way of providing a host of hard-to-find trace elements and nutrients.  What’s more, nearly every common and not-so-common pet bird species – parrots, finches, canaries, doves, jay-thrushes, quail, ducks, to name a few – will gobble them ravenously.


Vitakraft’s Sprout Pot

I strongly recommend that you offer your pet birds the Vitakraft’s Sprout Pot.  The plantain, grass, garden cress and lettuce seeds it contains will sprout in 5-6 days, and a convenient water reserve will keep them fresh and growing thereafter. The water reserve is a particularly important accessory, as the sprouts’ nutritional value declines after 5 days or so.  Providing your bird with continually growing plant shoots is therefore the best route to take.  Seed packets to re-fill the unit are available.


Fresh, growing sprouts, as your bird’s reaction will confirm, stimulate the appetite and the foraging instinct.  The sprout pot serves, therefore, as a form of behavioral enrichment, allowing your pet to feed in a more natural and, I can’t help but think, “enjoyable” manner.


Another Sprouting Option

You can also sprout a variety of seeds on your own – its more time consuming than using the sprout pot, but is a useful way of increasing dietary variety.  Please look for my future article on this topic.  


An interesting perspective on the nutritional value of sprouts and other bird foods is posted at:



  1. avatar

    How do you feel about the use of bleach with sprouts?

  2. avatar

    Hello Chris,

    Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your comment and interest in our blog.

    During my time at the Bronx Zoo, it was standard practice to soak all fruits and vegetables in a solution of ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon of water for 10 minutes, after which they were thoroughly rinsed. Properly used, bleach kills a wide variety of bacteria and viruses, including Giardia, which is notoriously difficult to eliminate.

    Sprouts were grown on site. These were not bleached, as tests carried out by the veterinary staff did not indicate a need for such. I do not know of any problems associated with seeds used in the Vita Kraft Sprout Pot, and have never used bleach on the germinating sprouts.

    Sprouts grown for human consumption are of concern, however, and have been linked to outbreaks of Salmonella and other pathogens. Sprouts are raised in warm, humid environments that support rapid bacterial growth. To complicate matters, bacteria that lodges on the surface of sprouts forms a biofilm – a community of microbes that is resistant to anti-bacterial agents. Sprouts also support inter-cellular bacterial populations, which are not eliminated by bleach soaks. Agencies in charge of food-handling regulations in a number of countries recommend that raw sprouts not be consumed by people under age 5 or above age 65, or by anyone with a compromised immune system.

    There are seed-treatments that result in sprouts with low bacterial counts. If you decide to purchase sprouts, I suggest that you do so from companies that utilize these treatments, or that only cooked sprouts be fed to your birds.

    Please be in touch if I can be of further assistance. Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    Hey. I was wondering if you knew if this product required you to buy Vitakraft refills in order to use it? Can I use my own seeds? And to Chris, GSE is a great supplement to bleach if you are concerned with animal safety. I assume it would work great on smaller servings and can see why the Bronx Zoo would prefer bleach.

  4. avatar

    Hello Stephanie, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    You could conceivably use other seeds in the sprout pot…the main benefit of the refills is that the mix contains 5 varieties of well accepted, nutritious sprouts. If you use your own mix, I’d suggest choosing thin, grass-like species, as sturdier sprouts such as beans, sunflower seeds, etc. may not fit through the small holes provided in the cover of the planting receptacle.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  5. avatar

    Hello, I saw this product today and wonder can I use this product to grow wheatgrass? if yes how can I do it? exp: just put the wheat seed in the screen? or do I have to put a thin layer of compost under the seed?

    I like the design, hope is a easy use no mess product. Will be great to hear from your reply.

  6. avatar

    Hello Vincent, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    The sprout pot is “mess free”, as the soil/compost is contained below the screen, and there is a convenient port for adding water. Four types of seed come mixed into the growing medium and refills – grass (type varies), plantain, cress and lettuce. You could certainly add wheat grass to this, but it would be competing with the other seeds. Alternatively, you could use your own soil/compost and wheat grass seeds in the cup and re-use it as often as needed.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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