Note for Pet Owners:
If your budgerigar or parrot develops overgrowth or deformity of the beak take it to your veterinarian because there may be an underlying disease present which needs to be diagnosed and treated with prescription medicines.

Topics on this Page:

The beak is usually kept in shape by it's daily use in feeding and in assisting movement around the birds environment. Overgrowth of the beak (usually the upper beak, but sometimes the lower beak) and deformity of the beak are common disorders in pet Budgerigars and Parrots

There are several possible causes :

  • Inadequate activity, so inadequate wear
  • Malocclusion (the upper and lower beaks do not meet properly)
  • Infection with the mite cnemidocoptes pilae (budgerigars and cockatiels)
  • Inadequate nutrition (eg vitamin A or D deficiency)
  • A local cancer
  • Liver disease
  • Metabolic bone disease
  • Psittacine beak and feather disease syndrome or "beak rot" (cockatoos and other psittacines) 

Breed Occurrence
All Budgerigars and psittacine birds can be affected

Obvious visible abnormalities of the beak or cere.

Abnormal beak conformations including beak overgrowth can lead to difficulty eating, resulting in malnutrition or starvation

Examination of scrapings to identify mites, cytology or biopsy to confirm the presence of a cancer, or other blood tests to confirm the presence of liver disease.

Whatever the cause of overgrowth or deformity the beak should be trimmed regularly using small scissors and it can be filed down using a small nail file, or sandpaper. This is to ensure that the bird can continue to eat normally. 

Care is needed to avoid over-cutting as this will cause bleeding. This can be stopped using a silver nitrate pencil - but often the bird rubs it and bleeding starts again. For this reason beak trimming is best performed by a veterinarian.

Moving the bird into a larger cage may help increase exercise and so increase natural wear of the beak. Contrary to popular belief cuttle bone and mineral blocks are not thought to help with beak growth.

The underlying cause (eg mites) should be treated appropriately. See cnemidocoptes pilae.

The prognosis is good for mite treatment, but is poor for cancers. Once beak deformity occurs regular management is usually needed.

Long term problems
Neglected cases may die from starvation and general debilitation.


Updated January 2016