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Parrot Care Advice | by Jamieleigh

Nail Trimming

Nail Trimming
When it comes to trimming my own parrot's nails, I'm a total wuss. I don't want to associated with an experience that my birds could find negative. So, I find it easiest to provide my birds with the neccessary supplies to keep their nails finely trimmed themselves. These supplies include an array of different types, textures, diameters, lengths and sizes of perches in their cage at all times. These different types of perches will keep your bird's nails trimmed back at a healthy length for both you and your bird.    I prefer to do my shopping online, but you can find these perches at any local pet store. I really love the variety Pet Discounters offer, so I will use their products as my examples.  A big hit with my birds are the Cuttlebone and Calcium perches. These come in an assortment of different colors, variations and flavors. These will not only serve as a perch and great supplement treat, but will also help in keeping your bird's beak trimmed as well. They even have these perches in small enough sizes for parakeets! Concrete, sandpaper and cement perches can be great for trimming back the strong and thick nails of your larger birds such as your macaws and cockatoos. The twisted perches make it so that your bird's feet are less likely to cramp up. Though if you keep a variety of perches, you shouldn't have to worry about that happening at all. I keep an array of these types of perches for my birds for high perching and additional climbing.  
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If push comes to shove and for whatever reason, my parrot's nails feel too sharp for me, I will team up with my husband and we will clip them ourselves. It's best to be shown how to properly clip your bird's nails by an Avian Specialist. They can demonstrate how to do it to your bird at your next check up or you can schedule your bird to have his nails clipped by your vet as often as needed so it's always done professionally. If you decide to do it yourself, be careful as to only clip the very tip of the nail. If you clip too much it will make your bird's nail bleed and can harm your bird. 

My military macaw, Cash, will literally hang on to the cage bars at one side of his cage and stare lovingly at my husband as he clips his nails through the cage bars. Anything for my husband's undivided attention!   Once in a while my rose breasted cockatoo, Bondi, will perch on the sink faucet and allow me to clip her nails there as she stands still. Usually, however, she will change her mind half way through and we will then gently towel her to finish the rest of her nails. Luckily for me, I've always held Bondi close, cuddled her in blankets and sweatshirts, and hugged her often. She has no fear of being wrapped up in a towel and I've made sure to condition this from day one. While one of us holds Bondi wrapped up in a towel, the other person trims her nails. When we're all done, we set her down and take off the towel followed up by loud celebration that she did such a good job. She immediately goes into her signature "rock out" dance followed by a kiss for each of us. We the move on to the next exciting adventure for the day. With my older umbrella cockatoo, Linus, when we clipped his nails we had to act like we saved him from the mean actions of the towel. He was an adopted bird, and for whatever reason in his previous ownerships, a towel was made out to be a negative thing for him. However, we were still able to make the clipping fun for him by celebrating the fact that we saved him from the towel afterwards and most importantly, associated ourselves positively. Once your bird realizes the trimming of his nails won't hurt him (it's the same as us clipping our own nails) it's uphill from there!

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.

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