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Old 03-12-2009, 10:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default She bit for the first time ever - nail cutting.

Priscilla has never bitten either of us except a gloved hand before now, but today she bit my partner's finger and didn't let go for a good fifteen seconds or so. We had her in her 'bath' of water to try to cut her nails but nothing was working. She hates bath time and clearly hated having me hold her back leg to get at her nails so my question is this: is there another way I should be cutting her nails? My only other option is gassing her at the vets to get them trimmed, which would need to happen every 2 months at least and would cost $45 so if we can avoid it all the better, but I don't want a repeat of tonight and I hate her being so stressed.

She's in her enclosure now eating dinner which I spiked with some Rescue Remedy to calm her nerves down. Hopefully she'll have forgiven us for the attempted manicure by tomorrow.
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: She bit for the first time ever - nail cutting.

We usually tag team the girls when we trim the nails. One of us will scruff while the other one trims....if they get to squirmy or stressed we stop and do the rest the next night. May take 2 or 3 nights to get them trimmed. I would make gassing a very last resort, and not becauise of the cost. I just hate to think of them being put to sleep for something that will be so routine and have to be done very often.....could end up doing more harm than the stress of nail trimming
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Old 03-13-2009, 12:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: She bit for the first time ever - nail cutting.

We've found that the scent of vanilla can sometimes help calm them during trims and other stressful times.
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Old 03-13-2009, 01:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: She bit for the first time ever - nail cutting.

I always have to trim nails on my own, because I'm the only one here, and I'm also the only one who handles my hedgie. I usually alternate between different strategies. It helped that when I first got him as a baby, I trimmed his nails weekly, because the back ones grow VERY fast, and his front ones every 3-4 weeks. So when he was a baby, he'd fall asleep quick when in my lap, and I'd go and trim his nails when he passes out on me. I also play with his feet a lot when I have him out. I'd grab one and hold onto it, rub his foot, and let him go.

I'm also always armed with treats. When I'm done with a foot(or 2 if he's especially good) then he gets his treats. Sometimes, I'll have his (empty) mealie bowl infront of him and he'll sniff at it while I cut his feet. I'll also wake him up mid afternoon, dump him out of his bed and trim his nails before he fully wakes up, and then he gets a treat. I've cut his nails after a bath, not during as he moves around a lot in the water, so I just trim afterwards, when it's his tired out cuddle sleep time and he's too tired to really fight. Sometimes, I also have his fleecie bed with me, and I'll cover his face, while I take a foot and trim. Heh, I usually alternate between all those, but they are always followed by a treat, and leaving him alone to cuddle and sleep.

Heh, I think I started working on his nails the first week I got him, just because he'd literally be passed out on his side. So I think it's really helped.
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Old 03-13-2009, 02:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: She bit for the first time ever - nail cutting.

the face-covering thing is interesting. I tried again this morning but the issue is she doesn't ever unball on her back, she's a VERY defensive hog so she'll only ever unball and stay that way when she's right way up. I'll look into the vanilla thing too. I can't bribe her with food as she isn't interested in food as a treat and doesn't like mealworms. She has her regular mealtimes that she's happy for but isn't interested in any food during the day or as a treat.

I've heard animals calm down when their eyes are covered, so I'll let you know how that gets on. I agree on the gassing... it would be a last resort.
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Old 03-13-2009, 05:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: She bit for the first time ever - nail cutting.

I know you said she's a defensive hog but are you able to handle her feet at all? If you can, maybe you can work on touching her legs/feet just during regular bonding time. That way she's not as nervous with the leg holding
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Old 03-13-2009, 06:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: She bit for the first time ever - nail cutting.

Don't try for too long at a time and once you have been trying, don't try again for a few days. I find trying too often is counter productive as they clue in very quickly what you are planning.

Does she like to annoint? if so, find something that will keep her occupied for a while and sit her on you with a t-shirt or cloth you can put the scent of something non toxic and interesting on. Let her go to it and when she is lost in annointing try to clip a nail or two. Once she starts to catch on to what you are doing, quit.

When you are trimming, go for the longest ones on the foot first and start with the worst foot.

I personally would only have one gassed to have nails clipped as a very last resort.
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Old 03-14-2009, 08:51 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: She bit for the first time ever - nail cutting.

We had one go from hopping mad during a claw trim to limp and purring when she smelled vanilla (I think it was vanilla tea that time). It doesn't always work as well as that, but it's harmless and worth a try
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Old 05-29-2009, 12:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: She bit for the first time ever - nail cutting.

Just to update this post, we have since devised the perfect nail-clipping solution. My partner holds Priscilla so she is raised at the front end, half-standing on her back legs. Then I snip the nails - she can't see the scissors and doesn't freak herself out!

the front nails are still somewhat tricky but if she is sitting on my partner's hand I can normally get them easier now. She's learned nail cutting isn't the torture her mother said it would be!
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Old 05-29-2009, 11:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: She bit for the first time ever - nail cutting.

just a question, are you using actual scissors? nail clippers work just fine & might be easier to handle. i'd fear scissors might slip
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