Pet Bird Beak Health and Trimming

February 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Pet Birds

The practice of beak trimming is somewhat controversial, and in making up your mind as to whether or not to trim your bird’s beak, it may be helpful to look at why a bird’s beak may need to be trimmed. The beak of a bird is made up of the jaw bone, which is covered by a sheath of keratin known as rhamphotheca. Keratin is the substance that our fingernails are made up of, and just as our fingernails continue to grow, a bird’s beak continues to grow throughout its lifetime. In the wild, this growth is worn down through the bird foraging for food, eating a hard diet, using its beak to climb, grooming activities and rubbing its beak on abrasive surfaces.

To ensure a healthy beak, provide your pet bird with a range of toys to chew, preferably something with different textures, such as a rope with pieces of wood, mineral blocks, pieces of leather and tough fabric attached to it. Most pet stores have these types of toys for sale, or you could make your own. Providing a cuttlefish is always a good idea. While some may advocate the use of sandpaper perch covers, others are against them as they may be too rough for the bird’s feet and cause problems. Rather see if you can find a cement perch, which is made specifically to ensure beak and nail health. Be sure to house your bird in a sturdy cage appropriate to its size, as biting through flimsy bars of a cage can cause damage to your bird’s beak. However, despite taking all these measures, at times a bird may develop problems with its beak overgrowing, and when this happens, it is imperative to go to an avian vet for an assessment and treatment, as there are some medical problems which can cause beak overgrowth.

Bearing in mind that the beak is used for climbing and playing, as well as for eating and obtaining nutrients for overall health, if a bird is developing beak problems, the quicker it is dealt with, the better. It is a good idea to check your bird’s beak on a daily basis, taking note of any cracks, discoloration, flaking or overgrowth. If your bird’s beak appears to be growing unevenly it could be an indication of an imbalance of nutrients in its diet, or even an underlying problem such as a liver disease. Even if the overgrowth has no medical cause, trimming a bird’s beak is best left to an expert to ensure a minimum of discomfort to your bird.

Should you be concerned about any aspect of your pet bird’s health, including beak overgrowth and abnormalities, nothing can substitute for the care and advice provided by a qualified avian veterinarian.

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