Do Parrots Need Their Nails Trimmed?

The other day I was trimming my dog’s nails and a thought popped into my head.

This thought was, should I be trimming my parrot’s nails?

I know that not trimming your dog’s nails can cause them a lot of irritation and is an important grooming task for any dog owner.

This is when I decided to do some research to find out.

Parrots do need their nails trimmed but only under some circumstances. These circumstances are that the nail isn’t straight and is growing in an abnormal fashion, or that the nail is becoming so long that it’s wrapping around itself.

When cutting your parrot’s nails, make sure you feel comfortable with doing it.  

Take all safety measures needed and use good quality equipment, using good equipment will reduce the chances of you snapping the parrots nail rather than cutting it.

With most parrots and especially those which has clear nails, you should be able to see their blood vessel somewhere in the middle of their nail.

Make sure you don’t go beyond this vessel as it could cause bleeding.

It’s important to know when your parrot needs their nails trimmed or filed.

It isn’t a regular occurrence but it’s something that should be looked at every month or so.

Checking your bird’s overall wellbeing is important and nails should most definitely be something you should check on.

In this article, we will be going over the common questions I asked myself when it came to trimming my parrot’s nails.

Also, I’ll discuss the best tools which are suggested to use for trimming parrot’s nails.

How Often Should I Trim My Parrots Nails?

There isn’t really a timeframe on how often you should trim your parrot’s nails.

You should only trim your parrot nails if they generally need trimming, you can decide this by looking at the following.

Nail length, is the nail growing back onto itself?

Nail shape, is the nail growing to the left or right abnormally?

Scratches showing on the parrot’s skin.

Has their perching stance changed?

Watch out for the nail length, sometimes a parrot’s nail can grow so long that it starts growing back on itself in a circular shape.

Nail shape is a common issue but something that trimming can solve. If you can see that your parrot’s nail is veering left or right,

I would trim this to see if it grows back straight.

If you can see scratches on your parrot’s skin and it isn’t possible that they could have received these from anywhere else, then this is a sign to get the trimmers out.

Parrots can easily cut themselves if their nails become naturally sharp.

It could also be possible that your parrot has changed it’s perching stance due to being uncomfortable on its feet.

If this the case, check out their nails to see if there’s anything wrong with them and act if there’s an issue.

Either of these issues can suggest that your parrot’s nails need to be trimmed and if your ever unsure you should seek veterinary help.

How Do You Hold a Parrot to Trim Their Nails?

It can certainly be a hard job to cut your parrot’s nails and especially if you haven’t bonded with them yet.

Before you start the cutting process, you should get all of the tools and safety equipment ready as your bird might show signs of distress.

The recommended way to cut your parrot’s nails is on a nail trimming perch.

This is simply a place where the parrot can sit while you cut their nails, but this is only possible if you have a good relationship with your bird. 

Typically, if your bird shows you good body language when they’re around you it can suggest you’ve bonded with them.

This could be that they sing in your presents, tapping their feet or flapping their wings.

If you don’t have a good relationship with your bird and their nails need cutting you may need help from someone to restrain them with a towel.

Once you have help, follow the below instructions.

Get all of your cutting tools ready, including your clippers, towel and styptic powder encase bleeding occurs.

Place the towel on your arm or the person helping you and encourage the bird to come onto the towel.

When the parrot is used to being on the towel, slowly wrap the towel around the bird’s body without spooking them, leave the head uncovered.

If the parrot feels comfortable you can now start trimming, place your finger on the balls of their feet and allow them to wrap their nails around your finger.

When you’re in this position you can now start trimming their nails, make sure you can identify the nerve which is located in the middle of their nail. If they have clear nails, you should be able to see this easily.

After cutting, if any bleeding occurs place the styptic powder on the bleeding to stop it and reduce the chances of infection.

If you don’t feel comfortable with cutting your parrot’s nails, I would seek help from a professional veterinarian.

It can be highly damaging and irritant to your parrot if you cut the nails incorrectly, it could also make future nail growth increasingly worse if not done correctly.

Which Products Are Best for Trimming Parrots Nails?

For the wellbeing of your parrot, you should buy the best tools available for cutting their nails.

Buying cheap and nasty versions of these tools will result in snapping your parrot’s nails rather than cutting them.

There are also some tools that can help with the trimming process.

Parrot nail stone

Sometimes it may not be necessary to cut your parrot’s nails and may be more beneficial to “file” them down with a nail stone.

Using a nail stone is definitely the easiest way to trim down your parrot’s nails and is also the least harmful.

The stone isn’t just used for nails but can also be used to file down a parrot’s beak.

If you’re worried about trimming your parrot’s nails too short and don’t want to spend a ton on a veterinary bill, then using a nail stone is the best and safest way to go.

Training Perch Stand

If you haven’t already you should purchase a training perch for your parrot.

This will make the process of cutting the bird’s nail a lot easier.

Once you start bonding with your parrot it’ll feel comfortable to get its nails cut while standing on the perch.

The good thing about a training perch is that they’ll wrap their nails around it, so it makes it much easier for you to see what you’re doing.


Get your treats ready before the trimming process.

Whatever your parrot’s favorite treats are should be apart of your nail trimming.

Each nail you trim or file you should give your bird a treat, this will encourage them to behave as they’ll want more.


Next is a Dremel, a Dremel should only be used by professionals or by people that feel extremely comfortable with trimming their parrot’s nails.

A Dremel is a power tool version of the nail stone.

You can get small circular sandpaper that can rotate at high speeds.

When this rotates, you’ll be able to smooth and file down your parrot’s nails.

Dremel’s can be expensive, by they do deliver a good result if you know what you’re doing.

It also takes a lot less time to trim down the nail.

So if you have the budget and you feel comfortable enough, you should probably go for this.


If you’re going to purchase some clippers to trim down your parrot’s nails, then I recommend investing in some good ones.

Buying cheap and poor-quality clippers can result in you snapping the nail rather than cutting it, this can be damaging to the parrot.

It may snap beyond the point you want to cut and could hit a nerve.

I recommend you get a clipper that is made for high-quality stainless-steel metal, this will ensure that the clipper will not bend and stay sharp.

Also, get a pair that you feel comfortable with using.

There’s nothing worse when trying to cut nails with a clipper that isn’t the right shape for your hand.

Styptic powder

This last one is very important and should be used as a safety precaution.

Styptic powder is used in the veterinary trade to stop bleeding from nails that may be trimmed too close to the nerve.

The powder will cause the bleeding to stop and reduce the chances of any infections occurring.

This powder is a must-have and is fairly cheap to buy.

As you can see there are a few items needed to safely cut your bird’s nails, it’s important to buy good equipment and you should only trim your parrot’s nails if you feel confident in doing so.

If you don’t by all means, seek professional help.

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