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Bird Beak Problems

Bird beak problems can be caused by a variety of factors. Depending on the condition, some causes can include poor nutrition, improper hand feeding of young birds, and genetic abnormalities. Two common bird beak problems are overgrowth and scissors beak. Check your bird’s beak each day for any signs of overgrowth, in which one half of the beak grows considerably longer than the other. Although it is more common for the upper beak to overgrow the lower, overgrowth can happen in either direction. A variety of factors can cause overgrowth, including poor nutrition, viruses or infections, or trauma. Some overgrowth is a result of a developmental abnormality. Early detection of overgrowth is important, to have your bird evaluated to determine the cause and best course of action. In the wild, birds are exposed to rocks, rough perches, and other factors that keep their beaks worn properly through natural abrasion, so overgrowth is less common. In captivity, some birds will need to have their beaks’ trimmed periodically. This is the needed course of action to correct beak overgrowth, as well as a normal part of good beak care. Beak trimming is not something most bird owners should attempt on their own; it is best left to experienced veterinary professionals. Although the beak itself does not have any feeling (in this respect, consider it similar to a long fingernail), trimming your bird’s beak too much can cause pain and even bleeding. An over-trimmed beak can make it difficult for the bird to eat, and a cut may leave the bird vulnerable to infection. Scissors beak is a bird beak problem in which the top of the beak, the rhinotheca, does not line up with the lower part of the beak, or the gnatotheca. This is often referred to as a lateral deviation, since the problem is that the rhinotheca comes down toward the left or the right of the gnatotheca, rather than lining up correctly. This bird beak problem can be caused by genetic factors, or by incorrect temperatures during the incubation period. Other possible causes may be viral or mycobacterial infection, or a calcium deficiency. How scissors beak is treated depends in part on the age of the bird. In very young birds, it may be possible to correct a minor deviation by applying light pressure for a few minutes several times a day, or by attaching an appliance to the beak to apply pressure. If the deviation is severe of the bird is older, surgery may be needed. A splint is normally applied after the surgery, to help correct the improper growth. Bird beak problems can be a result of genetic or environmental causes. Noticing and correcting bird beak problems early is essential to ensuring a healthy life for your pet bird.

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