A healthy parakeet's beak is its main tool for eating, grooming, playing, and feeding its young. The beak has sensitivity and delicacy as well as strength. If a parakeet's beak grows too long and causes discomfort to the bird, it can be trimmed back into shape. This is a job best performed by a veterinarian who will know exactly how and where to trim the beak.
A parakeet has two jaws to its beak: the maxilla forms the upper part of the beak, while the lower part of the beak is the mandible. Just above the beak is the cere, which is a fleshy area of tissue that contains the nostrils, or nare. The beak is covered with keratin, which is the same substance as that in human fingernails. Like human fingernails, a parakeet's beak grows constantly. Depending on the species of bird, beaks can grow between 1 and 3 inches a year.
A healthy parakeet's beak is symmetrical and smooth, without any rough textures or patches of discoloration. The alignment of the upper beak and the lower beak should be such that the lower beak fits snugly into the hook of the upper beak with no twisting or overlapping.
Abnormalities in a parakeet's beak can include the beak being overgrown; the lower beak twisting to the side and overlapping the upper beak which is a condition known as "scissors beak"; or prognathism, otherwise known as "parrot beak." "Parrot beak" is when the upper beak is shorter than the lower beak.
To maintain a healthy beak the parakeet needs both the proper living conditions and a healthy diet. A healthy diet for a parakeet will include a combination of fresh vegetables, seeds and nutritious pellets. A diet that consists exclusively of seeds may result in calcium and vitamin A deficiencies, both of which can lead to beak problems. As parakeets keep their beaks healthy by wearing them down through chewing and gnawing on toys and branches, it's vital to provide them with a cuttlebone and chewing toys. Make daily checks, searching for signs of cracking, overgrowth or discoloration.
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