Nanday Conure Forum

Message #2240. This is a followup to #2237.

Date:Wednesday October 27, 2004 6:29:39 am MDT
Subject:Re: Nail Clipping
Message:Kelly, none of my parrots have their nails trimmed on a regular basis. They are only trimmed if they need trimming. In my opinion, they need trimming if they are getting caught in my shirt while walking up and down my arm, or if they are literally slicing me open and making me bleed. A little skin abrasion is not a big deal here with my birds. Sure, I have little scratches here and there on my forearms, but it is not a big deal and it won't leave scars.

What can leave "scars" is trimming your bird's nails and having them bleed each time. Not only does that cause a bit of pain for your pet, but it can leave an emotional scar, so to speak. If you are the one doing it, it can even destroy their bond of trust that has taken time to develop. That is one reason why it might be a good idea to get a vet involved. Not only all that, but bleeding nails are openings for infection and extra care needs to be taken in cage/perch cleanliness because a poopy floor and poopy perches can cause him further grief and pain if his nails become infected. If you can't take the tippy tip of the nail off without having it bleed, it doesn't need to be trimmed. Yes, the quick in a bird's nail is very long and skinny and is much longer than a dog's or cat's quick. When I say "tippy tip" I mean one millimeter or less of nail trim, NOT 1/10th of an inch, for example.

If the nails aren't "damaging you" then leave them alone. A bird needs to have some sharpness in their talons which helps them when playing on a perch, hanging upside down and just having a ball in a parrot sort of way.

Sandpaper perches are very bad for your parrot's feet. Let me explain why. A bird normally has tree branches of varying diameters and textures in the wild to help exercise his feet. A bird spends its whole life on its feet, eating, sleeping, playing (for the most part) are all done on the bird's feet. If we had to stand all day and all night, we'd want a comfortable place to put our feet too as well as different positions to put our feet in as well. With those awful sandpaper perches, they cover a dowel shaped perch. That perch is the same diameter all the way down. This gives no opportunity for the bird to reposition its foot for comfort. The sandpaper actually does more damage to the pads of a bird's foot than it does good in trimming toenails down (as you have noticed, right?). Unless the bird hangs from the side of it's cage or walks flat on the cage floor, it can't reposition its feet or get more comfortable. Talk about leg/foot cramps (I'm putting myself in the bird's place).

Birds need perches of different diameters and different textures for foot health. This also helps your bird avoid arthritis longer during its lifetime. As your bird becomes elderly, he will appreciate having good use of his feet. I have an old guy (cockatiel) which I adopted a couple of years ago. He was kept with only dowels in his cage. While the oldest cockatiel I've heard of was in his early mid-30s, my guy is going on 25, so he is elderly in cockatiel years. His grip is very weak. If he is on my shoulder as I move around, he can easily fall off if I move too abruptly (which really isn't all that abrupt, but to him it is). His predicament could have been avoided had his owners knew in the early 1980s what many bird owners and enthusiasts know today.

Although this place also sells those awful sandpaper perches (Why? Because people will buy them), they also sell wonderful perches such as the Sand & Walk Perch, the Beach Walk Perch, the Comfy Perch, the Pedicure Perch, the Cholla Cactus Perch, the Manu Mineral Perch - all perches that I have and are wonderful perches. Like I said, I rarely trim my bird's nails and I have 23 parrots here. I do however trim flight feathers what seems like nearly a daily basis <grin>. The only thing with regards to these wonderful perches is that if your bird has long nails that get caught in your clothes, then they might get caught in the Comfy Perch which is a rope-type of perch. These perches are not meant to last "forever" (no perch is really) and once they become frayed, they should be removed or only used when you are home to untangle bird toes if the bird becomes caught. I would recommend you just do away with them when they reach this point because being bitten by a hurting and frightened bird that you are trying to wrangle out of a rope perch is not fun at all. A variety of perches will help to blunt down his sharp tips on his nails though and while he may still scratch you a little bit he won't become snagged in your clothes.

I would put the pedicure type perches near his food/water cups. Those places he uses regularly and often. I would leave his upper corner sleep perch (or where ever he seems to choose to roost) one of the more comfortable perches such as the soft cholla cactus perch. This perch is made of a soft, chewy-type of wood with many holes in it so he can reposition his feet in a huge variety of ways.

I have no idea what-so-ever that you mean when you say "scratchy thing" in his cage as far as something to keep his nails trimmed.

Read #6 in this list on the following website which talks about perches and even refers you to another online article about foot comfort in pet parrots - (they will also tell you that sandpaper is bad).

I hope some of this helps you and gives you better ideas of how to deal with your bird's toenails. This should make for a much more appreciative bird too. Be good to that baby.

Kelly wrote:
> I have had my conure for almost a year and have only had his nails
> clipped 4 times - once by his previous owner, once by the vet and of
> course, I attempted clipping his nails twice. Even by just clipping
> the very tips, his nails bleed almost EVERY time - on every nail. Is
> this normal?? It is time AGAIN to have them clipped and it's such a
> hassle to bring him to the vet; not to mention to try to hold him
> still! I have all of the nail-trimming things in his cage, (sandpaper
> perch covers and a scratching thing), etc. It is just plain time to
> clip them!! Any suggestions would be wonderful. Thanks!!

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