Claws

Ricardo Chapiano

Regular Member
Registered
I am after some advice on the best way to deal with long nails on a parrot. He is 18 months old and his nails are so sharp its becoming painful having him on me. He is very tame but not tame enough to be held and me trim them. I tried but he freaked out and I don't want to risk the trust I have built up with him. he was not hand reared and has already been through 2 previous owners. When he first came to me he wouldn't go near any humans. It seems there are no avian vets or bird groomers near me as well!
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
Nail clipping can be done by most vets and providing they are happy doing them there should not be a need for an avian qualified vet. Vets are trained in most species for simple treatment of trimming nails.
 

dianaT

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
What type of perches does he have, if you can get natural ones for example from apple tress or hazel etc. they should help with his claws, also it will give him something to chew as they love to chew natural perches. As has been mentioned the sand type perches will help too.
 

Ricardo Chapiano

Regular Member
Registered
He has various wooden perches of different shapes and sizes and a Cal-c-yum perch. I have ordered the sand perch I like the look of it. At this stage I would rather avoid putting him through the stress of a visit to the vets unless I have to. Thanks for the prompt responses and advice!
 

Kim

Guest
You might not need to clip the nails just take the edge off with a nail file. Would that be easier to use? You would need to hold him but it would be quick and no danger of cutting the nail too deep and make it bleed.
 

dianaT

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
:risas3: Oh yes I had a good chuckle at that, those balls are great fun, I have some smaller ones I think they are sold for cats to play with, and some of my flock play with those. Well worth the money.:thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

Kim

Guest
The video is hilarious, we could have done with that little footballing maestro in the England team last night
 

Roz

Regular Member
@Ricardo Chapiano You can easily shape his sitting or holding his foot to have the tips either filed or clipped off. Shaping is breaking the target behaviour down into tiny manageable steps or approximations. This is how I taught Ollie to sit still for me as I clip his. With Kobe, I make a game of it and clip one here and there.

Think about what you want the final behaviour to look like. It could be sitting on the perch whilst you clip the nails from underneath (that's what I do with Ollie) or it could be him holding onto the sides of the cage whilst you clip one or two that way. For the latter you would have to shape him to hold the bars first if he doesn't do that already.

Then think about what you are going to use for reinforcement. A favourite treat works well. To be different the other day I used a silly noise to reinforce the steps for Ollie.

First step might be you bringing the clippers/file as close as to provoke no reaction. Treat!
Next step, bird sits with relaxed body language (RBL) as you bring the clippers an inch closer. Treat!
Step 3 - bird sits showing RBL as you bring the clippers slightly closer. Treat!
Step 4 - bird sits showing RBL as you bring the clippers closer still. Treat!
Step 5 - bird sits showing RBL as you bring the clippers even closer. Treat!

You may want to call it a day there depending on the bird. If the bird fails a step (RBL is not so relaxed!) then back up and repeat the last successful step. Then move forwards again but in even smaller approximations.

Step 6 - bird sits showing RBL as you bring the clippers close. Treat!
Step 7 - bird sits showing RBL as you touch a nail with the clippers. Big treat!
Step 8 - bird sits showing RBL as you touch another nail with the clippers. Treat!
Step 9 - bird sits showing RBL as you open the clippers next to the nail. Treat!
Step 10 - bird sits showing RBL as you touch the tip of the nail with open clippers. Treat!
Step 11 - bird sits showing RBL as you clip the end of the nail. BIG TREAT!

Watch the bird always - he will tell you how fast or how slow he wants to go - you might speed through some of the approximations and have to break others down even smaller. The above might be achieved over a few sessions in a day or over a few sessions over a few days... or longer. Always end on a successful step or approximation BEFORE the bird gets bored or uncomfortable.

Every time you want to clip his nails you will have to shape the process from the beginning. But as he gets used to it you will be speeding through the steps and probably missing a whole lot out. You will also have to shape the process with each toe since each is different, ie. just because you can cut the tip off a front nail, doesn't mean you can clip a back one just like that. You'll have to start from the beginning again.

It works - I did this with Ollie who was not tame when he first arrived. Like you with yours, I really didn't want to stress him out by taking him to the vet and lose the little trust and progress we had made. Sometimes I use skritches (he adores being skritched on the head) as the reinforcer and as I said above, I tried and succeeded using a silly noise that I had paired with the head skritch. As you can see from the pic below, I am not trying to hide the clippers - he is in control of what is happening. Holding his nail like that as the clippers first touch and then clip, earns reinforcement be it a treat, head scritch or silly noise. If whatever I was using wasn't reinforcing enough, be assured he would not stay there:

 

Ricardo Chapiano

Regular Member
Registered
Thank you @Roz for the detailed suggestion and its a good idea. I used this method to get him hand tame and flight recall it does really work. I am trying to get him on his back atm by just doing 10 mins a day with rewards. Would you think doing 2 different type's of training at the same time would be OK or wait until the current one has been achieved then start again with the nail clipping?
 

Roz

Regular Member
@Ricardo Chapiano I like training different behaviours as it makes things interesting for them. Not so much chance to get bored. So try a few minutes of training him to get on his back, then later in the day train a few minutes of nail clipping. Keep the sessions very short... 10 minutes might even be too long. Maybe 30 seconds here, a few minutes there.... he will let you know what his attention span is - and it might be different for each behaviour you train. Stop way before he loses interest and as I said above always end on a successful step.
 

Kendra

Regular Member
I like Dizzy use the Skywalk perches and every one of the birds living here has nice, not too long, blunt nails, much easier than having them clipped. Of course there has to be one awkward one and that is B&G Lucy, although her talons are not sharp they are getting a bit long, unfortunately Skywalk to not a perch large enough for her.
 
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