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Mites in Birds
Mites can be found on any pet bird or avian species.
Mites are members of the spider family. They spend their entire
life cycle on a bird. Mites spread from bird to bird as flock members
make body contact.
Signs & Symptoms of Possible Mites on Pet Birds
* Excessive preening
* Ruffling of feathers
Sometimes the plumage and feathers don't even appear to be
damaged by the mite, even in very severe infestations. But in some cases,
evidence of feather damage by lice is quite evident.
Types of Mites that can infest Pet Birds
Red mites feed at night, which often makes the bird restless and
itchy. Red mites are found crawling around on the skin or feathers at
The easiest way to diagnose them is by covering the cage at night
with a white sheet. Examination of the sheet in the morning will show
tiny brown or red specks about the size of a grain of pepper if the
bird has red mites.
The region of the head and vent are most frequently attacked by
After they take blood from the bird, red mites will crawl off
into cracks in the cage, perches, nest boxes or even into other
areas of the home in the morning.
Red mites can bite and feed on the blood of humans and pets.
During the day, mites can get into furniture, carpeting and
woodwork, where they lay their eggs.
A heavy infestation can cause anemia.
Scaly Face Mange Mite
The scaly face mange mite is most common on budgerigars.
It is found on the cere, the skin around the beak, around the
vent and also on the legs.
This mite burrows in the skin, causing a powdery appearance to
Scaly face mange mites may also cause lesions on the bottom
surface of the feet of canaries and goldfinches, and sometimes lesions
occur on the leg scales. This is commonly called "tasselfoot" in these
Diagnosis is usually confirmed by skin scrapings which are then
studied under a microscope.
Chiggers are the immature stage of a mite. Chiggers feed in
clusters on the thighs, breast, undersides of the wings and the vent.
These chigger clusters result in reddish scabby lesions. The chiggers
feed for about 14 days, then drop off after which the lesion heals.
Air Sac Mite
The air sac mite is also known as the canary lung mite.
The air sac mite of canaries and finches live in the respiratory
tract of these birds. The mites can be visualized by shining a small,
bright focused light across the windpipe (trachea). The mites will
appear as grains of pepper inside the trachea.
The mites are also found in the lungs and air sacs. A small
number of mites may cause no obvious signs, but if a bird suffers
from a serious infestation, it may open-mouth breathe, tail-bob or
have difficulty breathing.
What to do about Mites
The best cure is prevention in the first place. Don't bring a
home without an examination by a good avian vet for mites and
other possible illnesses and parasites.
Frequent and careful cleaning of your pet bird's cage, toys,
bowls and perches is vital.
Provide your bird with the best nutrition possible to strengthen
it's immune system. Pure fresh water is a must for the best
health of your bird. (We recommend steam distilled or reverse osmosis
water only) Pure fresh air is also a requirement.
Why Pure Air is So
Important for Your Pet Birds
Don't carry pet birds around in cardboard boxes. If getting a
new bird, make sure the cage is clean.
If you suspect your bird has mites, get a proper diagnosis from
your vet and follow his recommendations.
The life cycle of a typical mite is 7 to 14 days so control
requires treatment at 10 day intervals for 3 to 4 treatments and
monthly thereafter of all birds in a flock or home.
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