How to Trim a Bird's Nails

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Trimming your pet bird's nails is important to keep him from scratching himself or his eyes.
Trimming your pet bird's nails is important to keep him from scratching himself or his eyes. (Image: indygotza/iStock/Getty Images)

Part of your bird's regular grooming routine should include trimming his nails. Like ours, a birds nails grow continuously and require a trim every couple of weeks. To trim your bird's nails in a healthy and efficient manner, learning the proper technique is essential.

Things You'll Need

  • Size appropriate avian nail clippers
  • Styptic powder
  • Small Dremel tool

Prior to trimming your bird's toenails, you must restrain him. Gently lift your bird by wrapping your hand around his entire body. Your palm should be facing his back.

Turn your bird over until his legs are extended and his feet are facing up in the air. Talk to your pet bird in a comforting voice, using his name frequently.

Use your fingers to steady your bird's legs and feet. With an avian nail trimming clipper trim 1/16-inch from the nail tip on small birds, and 1/8-inch on larger pet birds.

With a small Dremel tool, file the tips of your bird's nails to smooth them and round out rough edges.

If bleeding is present, dab the cut nail tips with a pinch of styptic powder. Hold your bird until the bleeding stops.

Tips & Warnings

  • Your bird's nails should be trimmed if they encumber his movements or he is unable to keep his feet flat on a solid surface. Even short nails should be blunted and filed to keep him from scratching you, or getting his claws stuck on various surfaces. Nails with excessive growth should be cut in small portions, over time to avoid cutting into the quick.
  • If you have a large bird, for his safety and yours, you may want to enlist assistance in restraining him. Keep styptic powder close at hand to quell any bleeding caused by the trim. Excessive growth, or an unnatural shape of your bird's nails, may be symptomatic of disease and your pet bird should be examined by an avian veterinarian.

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