We, humans, not just appreciate nature for its amazing diversity of birds and animals but also adore them as our pets. If you have pet birds or animals, you know about your special, irreplaceable bond with them.
Any discomfort or disease to pet birds can bring a worry to the owner too. In the past 2 years, I have had many beautiful birds at my farm. It was all smooth sailing until after 4 or 5 months some birds became sickly and slow.
I assumed it was because of the changing weather or due to adulterated food. The problem persisted and I was driven to consult a vet.
The birds had developed fleas and mites. It took some time and proper treatment to bring back the good health of the birds. Needless to say, it was a difficult time for me and my birds.
What are bird fleas and mites?
Bird fleas are also insects just like other fleas but they cause some trouble to the host they live on. Bird fleas have mouths that can pierce the skin of the host to suck blood from them
Bird mites on the other hand are little insects that live on the skin of different birds. They feed on birds’ blood to complete their life cycle. Bird mites, ticks, and spiders belong to the same family.
These are among the most common pests that infect birds. They also infest other animals like cats, dogs, monkeys, and many more.
These pests can spread very quickly from one bird to another, making your birds a little slow and can be troublesome for them.
Due to their minute size, they are not easy to detect from the naked eye, the size of an adult bird mite is around 1 (mm). These bird mites feed on the blood of birds depriving them of vital nutrition. They can make your birds sick.
Where do bird mites come from?
Bird mites are present everywhere across different places and countries. They mostly grow and thrive in warm and moist climates. Bird mites are most active in the early summer and spring seasons.
The bird mites mainly originate from birds like pigeons, starlings, chickens, sparrows, parrots, and many more. After origination from these birds, they mainly live near their nests.
What do bird mites look like?
Bird mites are very small in size and generally have an oval-shaped body. They have a slightly white/grayish appearance with eight legs. They have smaller hair-like projections on the back.
Bird mites also change color after feeding on birds for some time. They turn to a slight bluish color.
What kind of mites can birds get?
Birds can get infested by many types of mites, different types of mites cause different problems to the birds. Some of the common bird mites are listed below-
Burrowing Face mites
Birds can easily get infected by borrowing face mites, they attack the face and beak region of the bird. Usually, a crust-like structure develops around the eyes and beak of the bird. They got their name as they attack the face region and start digging deep into the skin of birds making small burrows.
Scaly Leg mites
As the name suggests these mites are responsible for creating scales on the legs and feet of the birds. The skin of the bird usually becomes dry and develops white crusts on it.
In some special cases, these mites can make a burrow in the bird’s skin creating rashes on the skin. In such a situation, immediate medical treatment should be done.
Canary Lung Mites/ Air Sac Mites
These mites generally cause symptoms like cough and sneeze in the birds, birds may produce some sound while breathing. Sometimes the birds may experience difficulty in breathing as well.
The target site of infection is the air sacs and sinuses of the birds making it difficult for the birds to properly carry on the respiratory processes.
Feather mites generally do not infest birds with a sound immune system, they generally attack those birds having a partially weak immune system.
These feather mites can make your birds restless and also can cause anemia in birds as they suck the blood from birds. Birds became very weak and non-detection of the mites can make them very sick.
Symptoms of fleas and mites on birds
Flea and mite infestation on birds can bring about many changes in the behavior and health of the birds, some of the major symptoms of fleas and mites infestation on birds are-
The fleas and mites can constantly bite birds causing a lot of irritation and pain in the birds. This makes the bird restless and can be a major reason for discomfort.
To avoid this irritation and pain the birds start constantly moving and stirring, sometimes they may become reckless and tired.
Redness and irritation on Skin
Skin is the first site where both mites and fleas attack, and due to constant biting, the skin of birds may become red. This constant biting also causes itching all over the skin, causing a lot of discomfort to the bird.
Usually, you will notice raw and inflamed skin, in some cases, the skin becomes more pink than usual.
Birds tend to get rid of the fleas and mites due to the discomfort they cause, as a result, the birds start preening their skin to remove the mites.
Checking the birds
One thing you need to know whether your birds are infected or not is to check them regularly for signs and symptoms. Most mites are too small to be observed by the naked eye but still, some mites can be observed.
In case of infestation from red mites and fleas, you can spot them over the birds’ skin as they are comparatively bigger than regular mites.
Damage of Feathers
If the mite infestation becomes extreme in birds there are high chances of feather damage. The feathers become ragged and start losing their shine.
In such a condition, immediate professional help should be taken for the better health of the bird.
How do pet birds get mites?
It is very common for your beautiful birds to get infested with mites. Although pet birds are safer as compared to wild birds from these mites, they can easily catch mites from another infected bird, small insects, or from you as well.
In many cases, mites can be transferred through other objects like feeders and drinkers. It is very important to keep the area around the birds clean.
What kills bird mites?
Bird mites can be killed in different ways. One of the most effective things in killing mites are sprays and aerosols having synergized pyrethrins. These sprays can kill mites instantly, but this treatment is not a permanent cure.
Several other sprays that contain several insecticides and pesticides like permethrin or bifenthrin are also very effective in killing mites.
Can bird fleas and mites live on humans?
No, bird mites do not live on humans. The bird mites to complete their life cycle require the blood of birds, and they can not survive on human blood.
This does not mean we humans are completely safe from bird mites and fleas, they can still bite humans. In the case of bird mites or flea bites, our skin becomes red and can cause a burning sensation.
Bird mite bites can also cause severe itching, making you uncomfortable and restless.
Do wild birds have or get fleas or ticks?
Yes, wild birds can easily catch fleas and ticks. Fleas and mites infect wild birds more easily as compared to pet birds.
Can birds get fleas from dogs?
Yes, it is very common that your pet birds can get fleas from dogs, cats, horses, goats, and any other domestic animal that can carry these fleas and mites home.
Is Vinegar effective in killing bird mites?
Yes, you can apply raw apple cider vinegar over the infested area to kill the bird mites.
Is hydrogen peroxide effective in killing bird mites?
Yes, hydrogen peroxide is very effective in killing bird kites. Hydrogen peroxide is very effective against mites, aphids, mealybugs, and many more.
Our pets are like our families, I know we want our pet birds to be safe and secure. Bird fleas and bird mites are common bird problems and can infest the birds very easily.
Keeping the birds’ nests and their surroundings neat and clean eliminates the chances of any kind of infection. It is important to inspect birds for fleas and mites regularly. Providing birds with good food and care will result in healthy birds.