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


Client – Sunshine Coast

There is a great positive vibe felt when you walk in the door! The staff are friendly, caring, and welcoming. Highly recommended. Thank you, from Pepper Pig.

Brad Symons

Client – Ferntree Gully

Very professional vets there! They have the vaccination available when every other vet clinic I called didn’t. They know rabbits so well that I was feeling very comfortable and confident to let them take care of my rabbit even though its further from home!

Danielle Lam

Client – Ferntree Gully

Love the welcoming receptionist and the vet. They treated my fur babies with care and also follow-up the subsequent day, just to make sure my bunnies are recovering well.

Timmy Toppy

Client – Sunshine Coast

The whole team at UPV Sunshine Coast are friendly, accommodating, professional, passionate, and caring! I have regular contact with the team as one of my parrots requires ongoing medication and they are always prompt with sorting out prescriptions and meds. Highly recommend. 

Lee Stone

Client – Sunshine Coast

Thank you to the team at UPV for taking care of Oscar the Eckie! We had a wonderful first appointment and Dr Pat took good care of my little guy, even though he can be nervous and difficult. I really appreciate you guys for going the extra mile to keep Oscar safe and to give him a positive experience.

Kiah Nash

Client – Sunshine Coast

Dr Alex at Buderim clinic was extremely kind and caring. His knowledge about bearded dragons is incredible. He was successful in helping Kiko our bearded dragon get back to optimal health. I was also impressed that he kept me informed twice a day. Many thanks. 

Penny Thompson

Client – Balcatta

Great staff and wonderful doctors, so helpful and caring about our pets. Really appreciated the respect and care given to our little friends.

Adam Cliff

Client – Balcatta

Thank you to Dr Yang for her attempt to help and care my rabbit, Lola. Even though it wasn’t the result we hoped and prayed for Dr Yang was very caring and professional with Lola even letting my mother and I having our last moments with her. We couldn’t be more grateful for that. Even sending us a condolence card in the mail. Dr Yang and team are highly recommended.

Anthony Koomen

Client – Balcatta

Absolutely amazing staff! They are all so caring, supportive, and professional. I had to provide palliative care for two of my older rabbits and the information & support I received from the staff was incredible. 10/10 would recommend! Plus, my rabbits give them the big tick of approval, so really that’s the main thing.

Sarah Manfredi

Client – Balcatta

I cannot speak highly enough of the care that my bird received at The Unusual Pet Vets in Balcatta. Dr Green was in constant contact with me leading up to Chirpy’s surgery and even gave me a call just prior to him going under. I can highly recommend them for any unusual pet you may have.

Sheree Bennison