Mites are tiny parasites that can infest birds, causing itching, feather loss, and anemia. There are many different types of mites, but some of the most common include red mites, northern fowl mites, and scaly leg mites.
1. Red Mites
Image by Luis Fernández García.
CC BY-SA 2.5 es, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1796288
Red mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) take the number one spot as the most prevalent type of mites found in pet and backyard birds. These mites are a source of annoyance for both owners and their birds alike. These nocturnal parasites feed on birds’ blood at night, leading to anemia, stress, and reduced egg production. In severe infestations, red mites can even be a direct cause of featherless chicks dying in the nest or abandoned nests and can also cause harm to adult birds. Hence, it is crucial to take steps to control and prevent their spread.
In a detailed article, We have outlined the characteristics of red mites and how to eradicate them. We encourage you to read it to learn more about how to deal with this pesky problem.
2. Trpoical and Northern fowl mites
Unlike red mites, Northern fowl (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) and Tropical fowl mites ( Ornithonyssus bursa) are mites that live and breed on the body of birds, particularly in the feather shafts. They also feed on the bird’s blood, causing irritation, feather loss, and decreased egg production. Infestations of Northern fowl mites can be just as harmful as red mite infestations, and they can also contribute to the spread of diseases among birds. As the name suggested, the most susceptible bird species to fowl and tropical mites are common in backyard birds such as chickens, turkeys, and pigeons.
3. Scaly leg mites (Knemidocoptes mutans)
By Alan R Walker
Own work CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19033723
Scaly leg mites (Knemidocoptes mutans) are microscopic parasitic mites that burrow under the scales of a bird’s legs and feet, causing discomfort, thickened skin, reduced mobility, and even lameness. They are highly contagious and can spread easily from bird to bird. The infestation can be prevented and controlled by regularly cleaning and disinfecting the bird’s living area, providing proper nutrition and veterinary care, and treating infested birds with topical or systemic medications. This mite is common in budgies and small song birds such as canaries and finches.
Air-sac mites (Sternostoma tracheacolum)
Air-sac mites, scientifically known as Sternostoma tracheacolum, are tiny parasitic mites that infest the respiratory system of birds. These mites specifically target the air sacs and trachea, causing respiratory distress and potentially serious health issues. Air-sac mite infestations can be detrimental to the affected birds and require prompt veterinary attention. They are common in canaries, and Gouldians and can also infect budgies and other captive birds.
5. Feather mites
Feather mites are also referred to as avian skin mites. They primarily live on the skin surface or in the feather follicles of birds, where they feed and can cause discomfort and injury. These mites can lead to itching, scaly or scabby dermatitis (pityriasis), and various other types of superficial skin lesions in infested birds. In addition, they cause feathers damage and breakage.
Signs, Treatment, and Prevention
- Treatment: There are a number of treatments available for mite infestations in birds. These include topical treatments, dips, and sprays. It is important to follow the directions on the product label carefully.
- Prevention: The best way to prevent mite infestations in birds is to keep their environment clean and free of mites. This includes regularly cleaning the bird’s cage, coop, and nesting boxes. You can also use diatomaceous earth to help prevent mites.
- Signs of mites: If you think your bird may have mites, there are a few signs to look for. These include:
- Feather loss
- Redness or swelling of the skin
- Crusts or scabs on the skin
- Difficulty breathing
If you see any of these signs, it is important to take your bird to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.