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Breeding Parrots, Cockatiels and Lovebirds.

Clipping nails

For a parrot's nails, it is very important that proper perches are present in the cage. If the perches are too thin, the nails will grow too long, which can hinder the parrot when climbing. The nails then have to be clipped, which is a specialist's job. If you clip too short and into the quick or nail bed, the nail will bleed. It is better to leave the clipping to an experienced veterinarian.

Make sure the perches are the right size, then clipping is not necessary. The nails may be filed in a natural way. Do not use perches that are too thick, as the parrot may have difficulty holding on. However it is recommended to place perches of varying widths to provide the feet a healthy natural variety of foot exercise.

But, if you need to cut the nails (I personally advise to use sandpaper, it is a lot safer and lot less stressful), you must be careful, very careful, and cut only a little bit as seen in photo, never try to cut shorter than advisable! Or you can have serious problems with your bird! If it starts bleeding it will run out of control, and except if you have some vet products like “blood stopper” you are going to be in trouble. You can use some home things to stop the bleeding, but I won’t dare to say what. Just run to a Vet and never try it again.

If you scare your bird by cutting its nails, in the future, you are going to have frequent problems. And pay attention, if the nail starts to bleed, don’t press the finger to stop bleeding or it’s going to bleed even more. So, use sandpaper or take it to the Vet you trust.

Nails need to be clipped when they are uncomfortable on your skin. I use a human nail clipper or baby nail scissors, and take off just the tips. All nails have a blood supply. If you nick into this blood supply or quick, have some Quik-Stop or Stay on hand. If you do not have these commercial products on hand, flour or corn starch will work. Apply this with gentle pressure until the bleeding stops. Occasionally the nail gets cut too short and these products don't work. I like to use silver nitrate sticks to stop any bleeding. They are available from your avian veterinarian.

The proper size perch can help keep nails at the correct length. The tips of the nails should touch the perch. You can also use a new concrete perch. Using many different size perches also helps the bird stay comfortable since they are on their feet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Keep your bird's wings and nails clipped at all times. Nails that are too long can get caught in anything and break, causing, at the very least, pain, and at worst, bleeding (which can be fatal if not stopped). Birds only have a few tablespoons of blood in their veins, and any bleeding can be life-threatening. If you can't clip your bird's wings and nails, your vet can do it for you.

To clip nails, you will need an assistant. You will also need fingernail clippers, or for large birds, a pair of dog toenail clippers, and some powdered coagulant in case of bleeding. A good product made especially for birds is called Kwik-stop, by Rich Health (this is available at most pet stores). In an emergency, cornstarch or flour will work. Have someone hold the bird in such a manner that it can't flap its wings or get loose (be careful not to hold the chest too hard-birds need to expand their ribs to breathe. If you hold too tight, the bird will suffocate!)

Each toenail has its own blood vessel inside. When you cut, take small nibbles rather than one large cut, to avoid cutting the blood vessel. Stop immediately if you get blood, and apply the styptic powder. If the nail is very long, and you cannot see the blood vessel through the nail in bright light, cut a small bit off the tip every few days. This gives the vessel a chance to recede between cuts. If your bird bleeds, watch it closely for a few hours to be sure all the bleeding has stopped before you leave it alone.

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