How to Clip/Trim a Parakeet's Nails

Updated on September 2, 2013

A parakeets claws, if not kept clipped, can quickly get out of hand. If they get too long, they can begin to curl downward, and grow into the bird's feet, causing him severe pain and discomfort. That is why it's very important to stay on top of your parakeets claws. Some may prefer to take their bird to a professional, but I've found that it's much quicker and cheaper to do it at home. Here's how.

What You Will Need

1. You will need a washcloth. This will be used to help you hold the parakeet. It will protect you from being bitten, and it will help to keep the parakeet calm.

2. You will need a pair of clippers. If you don't already have these, they can be found at any pet store. However, they are much cheaper online. I have included a link below for you to purchase from Amazon.

3. You may need a helper. While it's not absolutely necessary, it will be a great help to have someone else hold the parakeet while you clip his claws. Eventually, you will learn to do it by yourself, but for now it's wise to have some help.

The picture demonstrates how you should hold your parakeet while his claws are being clipped.
The picture demonstrates how you should hold your parakeet while his claws are being clipped.

Step One

Before you begin clipping your parakeets claws, you will need to secure him safely and comfortably in a washcloth. To do this, place a clean washcloth over your parakeet, and grab him around his back with your hand. The picture on the right demonstrates how you should be holding him. Make sure that his wings are tucked in at his sides; if they are spread out and you are attempting to secure him in this position, he could be injured. You do not need to squeeze him, just hold him in place very gently. As long as he can't spread his wings, he cannot go anywhere.

*Note: he will probably squawk a lot. This does not mean you are hurting him, as long as you aren't squeezing too hard. This is not exactly fun for him to be confined like this, so he'll be in a bit of distress. I usually sing songs to my parakeet that I know she likes. This calms her down quite a bit.

If you look closely, you may see the red vein in the parakeet's claws. Try to avoid cutting it, if you can. (Click on the photo for a larger view)
If you look closely, you may see the red vein in the parakeet's claws. Try to avoid cutting it, if you can. (Click on the photo for a larger view)

Step Two

Now it's time to start clipping. Before you clip each nail, it's important that you carefully examine it, and locate the vein. Parakeets have veins that run about halfway through the upper portion of their claws. It will look like a red line, and should be clearly visible through light colored claws. You should avoid cutting the vein. Just place the tip of the claw into the center of the clippers, and squeeze the handles together. While this may scare your parakeet a little, don't worry, it doesn't hurt him a bit to have his nails clipped!

What if You Cut a Vein?

If you accidentally cut a vein, don't panic! Your parakeet will be just fine. Put some cornstarch (baby powder) or some flour in the palm of your free hand, and dip the bleeding nail in it. It will help stop the bleeding. It will heal and your parakeet will be okay!

Step Three

After you've clipped all of your parakeet's claws, you're finished! Simply release him from your grasp. He will recover very quickly from any stress he may have been experiencing just moments ago. You will need to repeat this process every time you notice his claws getting too long. I have to clip my parakeets claws every couple of months, or so. It just depends on how fast they grow, and how well they are being filed down naturally between clippings. If this seemed a little bit scary, don't worry. It will get easier every time you try. You will get more comfortable with the process, and become more confident that you won't hurt your parakeet. Just keep at it. If you have any questions or run into any problems, give your local veterinarian a call for some advice. Also, shoot me an email. I've done this hundreds of times and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Good luck!

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Mea 

        7 months ago

        Hi I clipped one nail on my budgie bird, it kinda bled for 1 sec. I need help is our bird gonna be okay?

      • profile image

        Margaret 

        14 months ago

        I have just cut my cockatiels claws to short and it was pouring of blood I have dipped them in talc and it stopped but he keeps biting it and it starts again really badly Please help what can I do.

      • profile image

        Budgie 

        15 months ago

        My budgie won't let me clip her nails because she will always move.

      • profile image

        Budgie 

        15 months ago

        If you had a budgie how many time would you trim them and would it be ok to only cut them once a year at the vet and what if you need some to hold the bird and the bird does not trust that person

      • profile image

        lol girl 

        15 months ago

        When I grab my budgie gently ,she starts panicking and lifts her wings up trying to escape.

        she panics when I try to feed her, while she is in my hands.

        btw does her nails affect her grip because her grip is sooo light .

        Thanks

        p.s love your work

        it was very helpful :)

      • profile image

        Parakeet girl 

        19 months ago

        This article is so helpful!

      • profile image

        Basant 

        2 years ago

        Dear Steven Cubitt-McMaho,

        Try using a flash light behind the nails to see if you can locate the vain. If not, better to use Vet's services at least first time. If you feel confident, you may try it yourself next time.

      • profile image

        Steven Cubitt-McMaho 

        2 years ago

        my parakeets claws i cannot see the blood vain because there claws are too dark so where should i clip?

      • Kristen Haynie profile imageAUTHOR

        Kristen Haynie 

        2 years ago from Modesto, CA

        Cathy:

        Try Millet. It's available in the small bird section at any pet store. They'll love it!

        Drae:

        I don't think a file would be very effective. It takes a lot longer than clipping, and it'll be difficult if your bird is squirming.

      • profile image

        Drae 

        2 years ago

        Could I possibly just use a nail file? My bird's talons are just really sharp. And can parakeets bond with more than one person? I have to share her with my brothers, so we don't get very much alone time.

      • profile image

        Cathy 

        2 years ago

        This is off topic about claws, but my two budgies don't have a treat they like. They eat their food and that's it. Suggestions??? I've given them grapes carrots broccoli apples etc... Thanks!!

      • Kristen Haynie profile imageAUTHOR

        Kristen Haynie 

        4 years ago from Modesto, CA

        Samuel,

        To get them out to want to come out of their cage, try bribing them with treats! I got mine to finally come out by hanging millet just outside the door of the cage. Once they come out on their own, offer them treats that they only get when they come out. They'll start learning that good things happen when they come out.

        For clipping their nails, you're probably going to have to catch them by force the first couple of times. Try the washcloth thing: place it over them while they're in their cage to disorient them, and then gently grab them around their middle so you can hold them while they're bundled in the cloth. It might take a few tries before you catch them just right (I think I'm going to make a video and post it on this hub!). I know it seems traumatizing, but I PROMISE they will forgive you! Just hand feed them a tasty treat afterward and they'll forget all about it!

        Just remember that to build trust you have to work with them frequently and consistently. Let me know if you have any more questions!

      • profile image

        Samuel Ertle 

        4 years ago

        My two babies need their nails clipped bad but I'm always afraid I'm going to hurt them or scare them! I want a long loving relationship with my budgies but they both come from situations that weren't exactly healthy, so they have a (seemingly) large distrust of people. Any pointers? Oh, and by the way their both caged full time at this point, they don't want out when I open their door.

      • profile image

        Mperez 

        4 years ago

        I haven't tried it yet but I'm getting ready to!!

      • Kristen Haynie profile imageAUTHOR

        Kristen Haynie 

        4 years ago from Modesto, CA

        danad,

        I applaud you for getting that to work! There is no way my bird would willingly allow her nails to be clipped like that, so I have to resort to force. I'm so glad it works out so peacefully for you!

        Thank you for your comment!

      • profile image

        danad 

        4 years ago

        I tried the wash cloth method and just made my girl very mad and bitey being turned over and wrapped in a towel. In the towel I couldn't get to her feet. So I perched her on my finger and slipped the clippers under her nail and snip, she was fine with that. Got them all except one in the back because she got tired or suspicious of me doing that.

      • Kristen Haynie profile imageAUTHOR

        Kristen Haynie 

        7 years ago from Modesto, CA

        LightningStorm,

        Sometimes Budgies can be a bit scary and intimidating when they get upset, so I understand why you don't want to push the matter. Do be careful with the nail trimming perches, though; while they are filing your budgies' nails they can be very rough on the feet, sometimes causing sores.

      • LightningStorm profile image

        LightningStorm 

        7 years ago from The World

        Amazing, I have two budgies but I found it too difficult to cut their nails by myself because they do not allow me! Insted I use a nail trimming perch!

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