Nail Grooming Using a Rotary Tool

The use of the rotary tool for nail grooming has been in vogue for some time now.

Nowadays a technique that is  becoming more favored by most avian specialists (that offer grooming), aviculturists and a growing number of avian companion guardians for the medium to larger bird species is the use of a rotary tool for nail grooming.  And the reasons behind this is that quite simply, with positive reinforcement and a trustworthy relationship with your avian companion, the use of the rotary tool for manicure can be used without restraint.

nail rotary toolsmallNail manicure rotary tool models are easy to find and very affordable. Cordless and almost silent models are now available, thus diminishing the stress related to the noise older models generated.

Additional Reasons for Nail Grooming Using a Rotary Tool

As part of Early Parrot Education Program at HARI, our young fledglings are introduced to a rotary tool on their nails when they have comfortably and confidently learnt to perch firmly. For many reasons:

  • It causes less trauma to the bird’s nails than using the conventional cutters.
  • It cauterizes bleeding when applied with a stable position should the vein accidentally be damaged. This can eliminate the controversial use of silver nitrate application.
  • It is an excellent tool to have in your avian emergency kit, as broken and bleeding nails can quickly be cauterized. For the experience handler trauma to the beak resulting in bleeding can also be repaired.
  • Different grooming stones. I prefer using the softer, less coarse grained stone, usually light blue or green for the medium to small birds. The stones can be interchanged between birds, to minimize contamination. The coarser grain can be used with caution on the larger species.

Demonstration of safe restraint technique for larger parrots

For the avian rebel that will not comply with grooming, when used in conjunction with safe restraint techniques the use of the rotary tool can be less traumatizing for the bird.
The velcro strap is practical for the safe restraint technique when using a towel.

Parrot restraint technique
Place towel around and over parrot. Carefully wrap towel around to restrict movement taking care to never apply pressure on the body of the bird. Ensure that nares (nostrils) or beak are free and clear. A velcro strap is a practical and safe restraint technique when using a towel.

Note: There should be no controversy regarding the ethics of restraining birds in towels. Young birds that are initiated at a young age to this technique are not stressed by this procedure. Birds that have never been restrained in this fashion will demonstrate less fear and aggressivity if the towel technique is well mastered. No birds in my opinion should be restrained with pressure points from the hands, whether bare handed or with gloves! With the hundreds of birds restrained twice per year at HARI for complete physical examinations and blood sampling, we can affirmative conclude that proper towel restraint is by far the less traumatizing.

There has been some controversy from certain avian behaviorists regarding the use of towel restraint following past article’s from HARI that should be addressed. We believe that the safety of the birds are the priority and that despite all the possible positive reinforcement techniques, no matter whether a bird after numerous years of training can deliberately spread it’s wing for a vein puncture in the ulnar vein (situated inside the wing), the possibility that the bird might move is too much of a risk for any professional avian veterinarian to take. The consequences could be quite traumatic and the confidence forever destroyed in the caregiver. Common sense must prevail!

Photos and text by Josee Bermingham, AHT

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