Many pets, particularly those kept indoors, often don’t wear down their nails as they naturally would if they were out in the wild. Over time, this leads to them becoming sharp and overgrown. Some nails will even curl back on themselves and dig into your pet’s foot which can be very painful.

For these reasons, we perform and recommend regular nail clipping for rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, many birds, some reptiles, and some rats.

Nail Trimming Guinea Pig

Why Do My Pet’s Nails Get Sharp?

In the wild, your pet would be naturally wearing down their nails during their everyday activities. This could be climbing around in lots of trees for birds or renovating their burrow for rabbits. In captivity, our unusual pets often do not get the same access to perform these natural behaviours, which can lead to their nails becoming excessively long.

What Are Some of the Ways I Can Trim My Pet's Nails at Home?

Method One - Cutting Your Pet's Nails Using Nail Clippers.

You can use regular nail clippers, and this works well for most rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, rats, reptiles, and some birds. In some cases, it can be hard to find small enough nail clippers for these species, so we generally find that using the smallest cat nail clippers you can purchase often works well.

You want to clip the nail just past (towards the tip) the blood vessels that lie within the nail. The blood vessels generally give the nail a pinkish appearance in white or lightly pigmented nails but are hard to see in black or darkly pigmented nails.

While you are learning, a good tip is only to clip the very end 1mm or so to get used to the technique, and then as your confidence grows, you can clip more (if needed).

Method Two - Burring Down Your Pet's Nails Using a Hand or Powered File.

This generally works well for most parrot species and a few of our smaller reptiles and mammals. A hand file (such as an appropriate human nail file) can be used. However, not all pets will tolerate the amount of time it takes to use a hand file.

A small rotatory power tool such as a Dremel® (available from most hardware stores) with a grinding or filing attachment also works very well.

The general idea is to slowly take off the nail’s sharp point but still maintain the nail’s normal shape. Take it slow and make sure not to go too far. If you are using either a hand or power file, it is important to allow your pet to get used to the file’s sensation and noise gradually, so they don’t become too stressed.

How often do I have to trim my pet’s nails?

The frequency that nails need to be trimmed depends a lot on their living environment. Some pets who spend a lot of time outdoors never need their nails trimmed to wear them down regularly. Others that are always inside will generally need their nails trimmed every 4-12 weeks.

Does it hurt my pet to clip their nails?

When done correctly, nail trimming does not hurt your pet; however, they may not like the restraint or sensation associated with having their nails corrected.

Nail Clipping
Nail Trimming dremmei

How Can I Help My Pet’s Nails to Wear Down Naturally?

Providing access to areas where your pet can wear their nails down is a great way to minimize the frequency that they need their nails trimmed. This can be as simple as providing lots of appropriately sized, safe, native branches to your bird or allowing your rabbit access to a safe area where they can dig.

At the Unusual Pet Vets, we offer free nail clipping with any consultation or as an independent service (without a consultation) for a small fee.

If your pets’ nails are getting a little sharp, we can help! You can make an appointment online or by giving us a call.

Wavy bg testimonials


Informative Service

Very nice and informative service. Lovely vet practice, will definitely recommend to others.

Joanne Marsden

Wonderful and Knowledgeable

Wonderful and knowledgable vet. Took time to thoroughly check over my rabbit and answer all the questions I had. Would recommend to other rabbit owners.

Leona Hazel

Caring and Compassionate

Highly recommend, caring and compassionate no matter how small your pet. Thank you to the unusual pet vets for treating our very sick little mouse Moon, she came back to full health and is now enjoying life in a new home with new cage mates.

Kali and Co

Simply The Best

Cannot speak highly enough of the caring and lovely staff at UPV Osborne Park. Particularly to Dr Kelly for the wonderful treatment and compassion she displayed caring for my much loved
Bugz. Definitely recommend this practice. Simply the Best.

Stephen Waddell

A Great Vet For Exotic Pets

It’s a great vet for exotic pets, we would like to thank Dr Kiara and the nurses for all the help they have done for the bunnies especially when they have been unwell.

Gretel – Thankyou for all the tips and advice on what and what not to do with the bunnies.

We will definitely be recommending to all our exotic animal friends.

Jayde Darton

5 Stars All The Way!

Fantastic vets! Staff are so helpful and friendly. Vet’s are brilliant, they show so much love and compassion to our animals. 5 stars all the way!!

Nayre Manookain

A Huge Thank you

I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to the gang at Murdoch who helped my family and stimmy Cindy. It was a very stressful time and they assisted us with ease! Pricing was also more than reasonable which we were very grateful for. Thank you guys again, my noodle is now on the mend all to you guys.

Brook Oliver

Excellent Service, Caring and Professional Advice

Excellent service, caring and professional advice, and very good handling for our pet bird, on our first visit today at The Unusual Pet Vets, Jindalee. Very helpful, and they also provided further reading for us via email after our appointment regarding a few things we asked about. All staff were lovely and friendly – from the initial phone booking (you can do internet bookings too) to and including the consult. Thank you very much – we’ll definitely be back! Highly recommend.

Lisa Hack

Received the Best Service

Received the best service from Dr Sasha at the Sunshine Coast clinic. She taught me so much in such a kind manner and was very gentle to my Guinea pig. She then followed up by emailing further information on Guinea pig general care. Highly recommend!

Kate Hunter

Amazing and Caring Staff

Amazing and caring staff at the Ferntree Gully Clinic. Our baby rat was not well, and they always made time to help and support her. Very knowledgeable and compassionate. Would highly recommend and absolutely will use again. Thank you to everyone at Ferntree Gully for being there for us and Tabby.

Vicki Freedman