January 03, 2016

Vinny gets a manicure

Time for a parrot manicure!
Here is something that most parrot owners will recognize .. sharp nails! And by sharp nails I mean razor sharp! It had been gradually getting worse of the last few months and it got to the point where he left too much damage.

I'm sure parrot owners are not strangers to scratches and the occasional bite, but with Vinny it reached a typical 'that's it!' point. We got a pet-nail clipper before and used it on Vinny by grabbing him, holding him (gently) in a towel and doing his nails. But it was troublesome to keep him still long enough and we were definitely not looking forward to it. However, evidently it was time to face the fact.

Our clipper, bought at a local pet store
He was on to us as soon as he saw the towel. He's not traumatized, he's just smart. Towel in hand: beware, could be shower (YAY!) or attempt to catch (NOOO!). Clippers by themselves: Curious, could be a new toy? Clippers combined with towel: Time for a game of 'Catch the bird!', also known as 'FLY AWAY!'.

In the end we did manage to lure him in and hold him. Needless to say he wasn't happy and while we were ignoring his angry growling, we realized that Vinny was way too restless to even attempt anything with our 'instrument of terror'.

Nail clipping in action
So we gave up on that attempt. This gave Vinny a chance to calm down and sent us into a brainstorm session on how to make this process go any smoother.Meanwhile Vinny was sitting on my hand and as usual he was cute as a button, talking up a storm, making laughing sounds (seriously, I think he was laughing at us!) and fluffing up his feathers.

And then it dawned on us, he may not have to be caught. I got the clippers, approached his feet and he was fine letting it all happen. We clipped his nails (not too short of course, only got the needle-sharp ends off. Of course that was our goal to begin with.

This is how our endeavor got a happy end after all. It's 2 days later now and it's much better now. His nails are still sharp enough for him to hold on and climb up and down chairs, ropes, and us, but not sharp enough to break skin on the lightest of touches anymore.

So here's our tip on bird manicures: train your parrot well while he or she is young. Make sure it's not afraid of new things. Let your bird be comfortable with being touched and prodded. Play tickle games as part of the training. And the result is that you'll get a bird that you don't need to hold or force down as much.

Sea-shell covered perch (found on E-bay)
Now, there are possibilities to prevent their nails and beaks from getting too long or too sharp. There are special perches that are made of coarse concrete or are covered with sea-shells or other materials to give it a rough surface similar to sanding paper. And there are brand-grade products out there that sell very colorful perches that are supposed to have the same effect.

Our personal experience is that they don't work for Vinny. He simply doesn't like them. Maybe the surface is too rough for the padding on his feet. Or maybe he thought he was too manly for the pink perch we got for him. Color can definitely be a factor for a bird's opinion about anything, so make sure you know your bird's favorite color, or pick a neutral one.
Example of brand-grade perches

We're not against these types of perches by definition, but we do stay away from them. They're relatively expensive and they may just become an ornament in the cage, just for show. Plus it's not always clear what types of materials are used in production. Besides that, our vet didn't seem to find Vinny's nails too long, so we don't consider it a concern and we deal with it by just clipping once in a while.

Using special perches is a personal choice (such as many things related to bird-care). What do you do to prevent long or sharp nails? Do you use those special perches and have you tried different ones? In your opinion, what are the best perches made of and/or what are the best brands/types? Or if you clip your bird's nails regularly, what is your trick to do this with the least amount of hassle? Feel free to leave a comment.