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.

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



I had my guinea pig Dasher booked in for castration and microchipping as part of the Hop Start Package and the staff there were very friendly, insightful, professional and helped to calm my nerves about the surgery. All went really really well and Dasher is loving his new food. I highly recommend them.

Neek Dianne Blackburn


Absolutely exceptional, every team member I encountered conducted themselves with absolute professionalism, compassion and care, and should be commended for their awesome work especially with the changed conditions they have had to accommodate for during COVID19.

Couldn’t recommend highly enough.

Thank you for going above and beyond to make the loss of our little man Winnie (ferret) as peaceful and painless as possible.

Angus and Bec


I cannot thank Dr Kelly and her staff enough for taking such great care of my 2-year-old Blackmoor goldfish ‘Pepper-Potts’.

Removing her eye has given her back her quality of life, she is a very happy girl again. Incredible knowledge, experience & great love and care was given, thank you so very much. 

💙Pepper-Potts & I love you all

Megan Michelle


I can’t speak highly enough about the team of vets and vet nurses who saved my baby weiro when he was very close to passing away. The service and care have been exceptional from the very start! Outstanding communication, phone call follow-ups, prompt replies to emails, extremely professional, so caring and empathetic. They really are just AMAZING at The Unusual Pet Vets.

A very special thank you to Dr Luke, who has been so committed to saving my little bird from day one and holding onto hope for him. My family and I are so thankful for you and your team for all you have done for him and for his ongoing care and treatment. You guys are awesome!

Milly Milloy


We are so happy to have now found our bird Buddy a fantastic vet service. The service we received from Dr Kelly and her team from start to finish was so welcoming and friendly. 

Cass C


I have been taking my python to Dr Josh since I got her 5 years ago. He is always very compassionate and goes through everything in great detail. In the beginning, I asked a LOT of questions and he always made time to answer as soon as he could. The new clinic is fantastic, and I know my animals are 100% safe and comfortable whilst there.

Madhra Bradley


Always a pleasure visiting unusual pet vets. They take good care of our birds and answer any of our questions with in-depth responses. I have seen Dr Sam a few times and it’s obvious he loves his job and the animals he treats, and I’m sure all the doctors are the same. 10/10 thanks so much!

Alex Hamilton


Fantastic care as always for our bunny with gut stasis. They called to bring our appointment forward to make sure that he received any necessary care as quickly as possible and gave us great information about the problem and the follow-up care and treatment. So reassuring to know that you are in expert hands.

Jessica Scott


A wonderful clinic that accepted an adorable, yet dazed Eastern Yellow Robin after it flew into my window. It was such a relief this service was available on a Sunday afternoon before a public holiday. Such commitment to preserving the wellness of our beautiful native wildlife must be commended, we’re so fortunate to have these dedicated saints.

Nina Pearman


Absolutely the best vet, they are so caring and dedication to their job. I cannot recommend them enough. Thank you.

Joshua Charles Fowler