When people hear about pet grooming, they typically think of shampooing, coat clipping and blow drying.

When people hear about pet grooming, they typically think of shampooing, coat clipping and blow drying. But, as an avian veterinarian, I think about nails, wings and beaks. Birds, just like dogs and cats, need regular grooming to stay healthy and safe. While wild birds use their flight feathers to get around and keep their nails worn down by landing on rough branches and rocks, pet birds in cages don’t have these experiences. Thus, pet birds often develop overgrown nails and may become injured while flying indoors. Retailers would be wise to remind bird owners that regular grooming is critical to help keep their avian companions out of trouble. Nip That Nail Given most pet birds’ lack of activity when compared to their wild counterparts, as well as the abundance of food they are offered, these animals’ nails typically grow fast and require trimming every few months. Just like people, the frequency with which birds’ nails need to be clipped varies based on genetics, species, diet and activity level. Bird owners generally know that when nails are pointy and it is painful to have their pets sit on their arms, it is time for a trim. There are many safe ways to trim birds’ nails, and...

As the economy seesaws and budgets tighten, South Africans are exploring more affordable ways of doing

As the economy seesaws and budgets tighten, South Africans are exploring more affordable ways of doing things – and in some cases, this means taking on do-it-yourself projects that would previously have been left to the professionals, or repurposing discarded items. Alan Duggan talks to self-help gurus and neophytes who are making it work for them. Kevin Thorpe is a self-employed IT professional with a mild disdain for corporate workspaces and a firm belief in the core tenets of DIY, one of which requires a willingness to tackle just about anything. What he really cares about is using his brain and hands to build stuff, fix things and repurpose unwanted items of every conceivable description. Scavenging everywhere from online auction rooms to municipal dumps, from garage sales to the beach near his home, he pounces on unrecognised treasures with almost palpable satisfaction. His passion for DIY has saved him rather a lot of money and provided him with a comfortable home that bristles with his own projects. He was an early adopter, recalls Thorpe. He said, “At the age of seven, I would cycle to the local municipal dump in Sandton to scavenge for interesting stuff and almost...