can you trim birds beaks

Trimming a birds beak sounds kind of scary, but it is a necessary procedure for some pet birds. Much like our fingernails, a birds beak is made of keratin and grows continuously throughout its life. Because of this, the beak must be constantly ground down—either via the birds everyday activities or a manual beak trim—for it to stay healthy and function properly.

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How Do You Trim an Overgrown Beak?

When a bird owner notices that their bird’s beak is growing too much, they should take immediate steps to have the bird examined by a veterinarian in order to rule out any underlying medical conditions as the reason for the growth and to have the beak properly clipped. An overgrown beak’s blood supply is typically even longer than that of a regular beak. Therefore, when an overgrown beak is trimmed, there is a considerable chance that bleeding will occur. Owners should therefore never attempt to trim their birds’ beaks at home.

Veterinarians can trim an overgrow beak in a number of ways. The most popular and secure technique involves using a motorized Dremel drill. Usually, the bird is wrapped in a towel and one person gently restrains it while the other gradually grinds down the beak tip with the sides of a conically-shaped grinding stone drill bit, taking care not to overstress the bird or drill for too long, as this could cause the drill bit to overheat. It’s important to take caution when trimming the beak to avoid hitting blood vessels and nerves with the drill, which could result in bleeding and excruciating pain.

With an emery board, small birds like budgerigars, finches, and cockatiels can benefit from manual beak trimming. For beak trimming, it is generally not advised to use other hand-held tools like wire cutters or toenail clippers. When beaks are trimmed with these instruments, it can accidentally split and crack the beak, jar the base of the beak (where the new protein layer forms), and cause future deformities to the beak.

How to Prevent Beak Overgrowth

Small birds should be provided with cuttle bones on which to grind their beaks, and medium-sized to large birds should be offered a variety of wooden toys to chew on to help keep their beaks trim. All birds can be given hard food items (such as nuts and crunchy vegetables) to help with beak wear.

To become familiar with what a “normal” beak in that species looks like, bird owners should attempt to observe as many birds of that species as possible. However, in many cases, due to either genetic factors or underlying disease, pet birds’ beaks can overgrow even with appropriate food and toys. A bird owner should consult a veterinarian right away if they believe their pet’s beak is overgrown to make sure there is no underlying illness that needs to be treated.


How do you fix an overgrown bird beak?

See an avian veterinarian if you suspect that your bird’s beak is growing unevenly. Your avian veterinarian can determine the reason for the problem as well as trim it to prevent problems with eating or preening. Beak trimming is best performed by a veterinarian, unless you have considerable experience.

Why do people trim birds beaks?

Beak trimming is still considered one of the most effective ways of mitigating the risk of negative welfare impact associated with severe feather pecking outbreaks within a flock.

How much does it cost to trim a bird’s beak?

Prices vary from $10 – $50 depending on work needed to be done to trim the beak.

Is beak trimming painful?

Although younger birds that are beak trimmed experience less neuroma formation and have relatively normal oral behaviors, all methods of beak-trimming induce pain and physiologic stress in birds.