By David B Weber
Keeping your parrots nails and beak worn down naturally is a constant battle. Nobody wants to take their parrot to the vet to have their beaks or nails trimmed and I'm sure your parrot doesn't want to make that trip. This is uncomfortable for you, uncomfortable for your parrot and very costly!
This isn't a problem in the wild because their environment provides them ample opportunities to wear down their beak and nails. You too can prevent this problem (or at least minimize it) naturally by duplicating their natural environment.
Here are ten ways to naturally help your parrot keep their talons and beak worn down.
Tips For the Nails
- Provide a lot of rough and/or concrete perches for your parrot to climb on. This gives their feet exercise and more importantly it helps your parrot keep their nails trimmed naturally.
- Provide your parrot a lot of incentive to climb around and get exercise (toys, foraging items, etc). Now that you've given them rough perches (See #1 above) to climb on, now you have to get them to climb. Make it fun and they'll thank you for it.
- Provide toys that encourage your parrot to use their feet. This can be hanging toys that they have to grab and hold or foot toys that they have to hold.
- Provide foraging toys and make them use their feet to forage for food. This may be foraging items they hold in their 'hands' or hanging foraging toys that they hang from while foraging. Either way, they have to use their feet which is another opportunity to wear down their nails.
- Provide your parrot with opportunities to walk and play on flat ground. A lot of parrots (especially the African Grey) spend a lot of time on the ground foraging and feeding. This naturally helps them keep their talons worn down so try to duplicate this natural behavior when possible.
Tips For the Beak
- The same rough perches that helps your parrot keep their nails worn down also helps them keep their beaks worn down. Parrots use their perches as napkins while eating and wipe their beaks on the perch to keep them clean. This naturally helps to keep their beak worn down.
- Providing your parrot a lot of soft foods (veggies and fruits) makes their beak messy and encourages them to wipe their beak on the rough perches. So give them a lot of soft messy foods. The messier the better! Lucky for you and your parrot, there are a lot of healthy messy foods. This includes most veggies and fruits.
- Provide your parrot a lot of foraging toys of various materials to encourage them to use their beak. Get creative. There are a lot of resources online to show you how to make your own toys to save money.
- Provide a lot of chew toys (wood, paper, cardboard, etc). You should give them something to destroy at least once a day. This will get expensive if you don't learn to make your own toys. Not only is it good for their beaks and nails, it also keeps them occupied and provides some environmental enrichment.
- Occasionally give them nuts to open up (help them by starting the crack if you need to). Too many nuts is not healthy but giving them a nut occasionally is okay and beneficial. Of course most birds are nuts about nuts (sorry I couldn't resist) so don't go overboard because they'll probably eat all of them that you give them.
These tips will go a long way toward helping to keep your parrot's beak and nails trimmed naturally.
If you don't follow these tips and need to get their nails and beaks trimmed, your first choice should be to take your parrot to a vet. You can do serious damage while trimming a beak or nails if you don't know what you are doing.
If these don't work and you can't/won't take it to a vet. You can always learn to do it yourself. The easiest way to do it is to train your bird to allow you to use a Dremel tool. WARNING! Trimming the beak incorrectly can cause serious damage and death! If you damage the beak, the beak will become sore, and if the beak becomes sore, the bird won't be able to eat and if the bird can't eat...I think you see where this is going. So I don't recommend this method on the beak unless you know what you're doing. You can also do serious damage to the nails if you don't know what you are doing. It is recommended that you at least take it to the Vet one time for trimming the beak and nails so the Vet can show you the correct procedure.
After you've been shown the proper procedure by your vet or another qualified person, you can use Clicker training to easily train your bird to allow you to use a Dremel tool on it's nails and/or beak.
You've probably picked up on a theme here. Duplicating your parrots natural environment is key to helping them naturally keep their nails and beak trimmed.
The Author is the creator of the InfoSuperFlyway.com. It's a webpage dedicated to Kibibi a Congo African Grey Parrot with parrot recordings, funny parrot videos, top ten lists, parrot jokes, clicker training info and a large database of parrot articles. For more articles about African Greys and other Parrots, check out Kibibi's Parrot Article Archive.
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