Budgies with mites can be a real challenge. They suffer horrendously from these tiny parasites that feed on their blood like vampires. They can live on the skin and feathers of their hosts and are active at night. Owners of canaries and budgies should be vigilant about their pets’ health and manage these mites quickly upon discovery.
If not handled properly, these pests can cause skin and feather damage and pose health threats to your pets. Let’s talk about prevention and correction if they arise. We’ll start with prevention because that’s always the best place to begin with mite problems (before they start or get worse).
How Do Budgies Get Mites?
A pet parrot known as a budgerigar is more prone to getting infected by mites than some other birds. These pests can cause several health problems, like anemia, crusty beaks, and itching.
Since mites are incredibly tiny, it’s hard for the human eye to detect them. Budgies with severe infestations may go untreated for weeks or months if not noticed, and the disease can spread by:
- Human carriers
- Dead animals/pets
- Infested birds/budgies
- Mite-infested furniture or cages
The usual suspect, however, is the transmission from another bird. That’s why you will see mites in pet stores that don’t have the best cleaning procedures.
How Do I Know If My Budgies Have Mites?
Budgies with mites typically display symptoms. If they start scratching a lot, you should do something right away, so they don’t start pulling their own feathers. You may also notice patches of bare flesh or stray feathers on the bird if it’s trying to remove mites from its body.
Red mites can affect the immune systems of birds that have compromised systems. These birds are more vulnerable to feather mites, which can cause anemia. When it’s dark outside, they may become agitated and look frail.
You’re most likely to come across a small number of mites during the night. If you can see them moving around on your bird’s skin, you can identify them by checking its cage. The mites will then search for new blood sources by leaving little bands of black or red on the surface of the cage.
You can cover the cage with a white sheet to prevent them from returning. In the morning, you may notice a couple of red dots on the sheet.
Typical Mite Symptoms – Quick Reference
Air Sac Mites – Wheezing, coughing, repeated sneezing, or other breathing-associated issues.
Skin/Feather Mites (aka Red Mites) – Lethargy, even anemia. Itching at night when the mites return (they hide in the dark during the day).
Scaly Mites – Cere and around beak crusting. Infestations extend the crustiness to the legs, vent, and even feet. These mites particularly like Budgies and are particularly bad for birds.
Other Mites Symptoms
Mites can cause budgies to get agitated and disturbed. Since they are active at night, they can also make it hard to fall asleep. A budgie affected by the infestation will often groom and preen its feathers at dusk as the mites become active. Even though its appearance may look similar to that of a regular budgie, this behavior is not uncommon.
Some budgies will try brushing against the cage walls, bars, and perches to remove the parasites from their bodies. They won’t be able to stop themselves from doing it. If they are distressed, a budgie will often pluck its feathers and might even chew at its own legs and feet.
- Crusty Skin And Loss Of Feathers
Scale face mites often cause crusty patches on the beak, face, and around the eyes. These are the areas where the mites attack, which can cause white deposits and irritation. As they grow, these patches will eventually turn into plaques.
Also, a budgie’s feather loss and bald spots are often enough to identify a mite infestation. When a budgie is itching, it will pluck its feathers backward, a way of self-soothing. This behavior is usually seen in areas where there are mite attacks.
Although it’s not the season for the molting of feathers, the bottom portion of the cage may have more feathers than usual. It is a warning sign of a mite infestation and should not go ignored.
- Breathing Difficulties
A condition known as respiratory distress caused by air sac mites can affect a budgerigar. When the Budgie gets an infestation, it will start coughing and wheezing. It will also use its neck to draw oxygen into its bloodstream. You might notice it making weird head movements when trying to breathe, so the movements may even become rhythmic and in time with their breath.
Those budgies with chronic issues might lose their ability to sign properly. For instance, if you hear clicking sounds, it could mean mites in the bronchi.
Types of Aviary Mites
Here are the common types of mites on your budgies that you should not overlook:
- Air Sac Mites
The mites, known as air sac mites, can be transmitted to budgies by nearby infected birds. Cross-contamination can also occur due to sneezing and coughing.
These insects live in the host’s air sac, or trachea, which is warm and moist. The symptoms of an air sac mites attack are more severe than those of other types. They can cause a bird’s breathing to become labored, just like humans, and that’s a serious problem. It can become life-threatening.
If the infection stays for a long time, it can get into the bird’s trachea and make it choke. Like other mites, bird mites can be transmitted by close contact. That’s why stores that sell birds can have serious problems.
- Red Mites (Skin and Feather Mites)
Red mites are a type of arachnid closely related to ticks and spiders. They are known to stay in the cracks of cages all day before emerging at night. Red mites prefer to lay their eggs in the vent and head, as these are the areas where they thrive.
Once inside, they will quickly breed and spread to other budgies. Tiny red or rusty-brown specks indicate a red mite infection, which is likely what you’re seeing on your Budgie. Similarly, as mentioned, any blood-sucking predator can cause the bird to become lethargic from blood loss. It can cause anemic birds to die.
Treating the birds’ environment appropriately would be best to prevent these mites from spreading. When the mites return at night, they can cause the birds to become listless and itchy. If the infestation is severe, the birds may die.
These nasty critters will hide in the cracks, crevices, and cage tray lining during the day. So, you need to disinfect daily, change all the tray linings, and adequately clean the cage. This method will drastically reduce the mite’s ability to procreate and will help fight off the infestation.
- Scaly Face Mites
The most common types of skin mites are known as “budgie mites” or scaly face mites. These are usually harmless but can live off a budgie’s blood if left unchecked. Even our naked eyes can’t see these pests. The birds will display crustiness around their nostrils, eyes, and beak.
Since this type of mite prefers to live on bare skin, facial symptoms are the first signs of an infestation in birds.
You may also witness your bird making a move that looks like it’s wiping its beak on a perch. The bird might try to scratch if it is itching, and that’s what this movement is attempting to achieve.
Besides the obvious signs of an illness, birds with facial skin mites often stop eating as their bill becomes too painful to use. It may lead to poor health, and the bird is at risk of dying if it does not receive appropriate treatment.
Your Budgie may get crust around its beak base, which signifies that it needs to see a veterinarian. A veterinarian can easily identify these skin mites by scraping off a small portion of their skin and investigating under a microscope.
How To Rid Your Bird Of Mites
If you notice symptoms in your pet’s appearance or behavior, it would be best to bring the bird to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Take your bird to the vet. They can determine whether or not it has a mite infestation, what kind of mites it has, and what treatments are available to get it healthy again.
In many cases, a single veterinarian visit can help you rid your bird of the pest, and they will also tell you precisely what to do next.
Nonetheless, you may take a few measures to safeguard against mite infestation. Examples of this are as follows.
- Maintain Proper Hygiene When Handling Birds
It’s essential to clean your bird’s enclosure regularly. The budgies’ cages are often dirty, and spend most of their time eating, pooping, and preening. Infections can quickly spread and have potentially fatal consequences if not treated properly.
Various types of disinfectants are safe for birds. Also, you should clean all water bowls and feed daily, including scrubbing the floor regularly. Likewise, you should decontaminate the enclosure and all its accessories at least once a month.
- Stay Away From Strange Birds
Mites can spread from infected birds to other birds through close contact, so keeping them away from other birds can help keep them from getting sick.
Although it’s unlikely for most pet owners to have an issue with contagious diseases, it’s still possible for certain birds to come into contact with infected ones. To stop the illness from spreading, keep the sick bird away from other birds and closely watch it. We call this quarantine in the industry.
Similarly, if you frequent any pet stores with birds, ensure you touch as little as possible and disinfect before coming into contact with your bird. This method can help prevent the spread of mites that tried to hitch a ride on you.
- Don’t Handle Wild Birds
Mites on budgies are a common problem in areas where wild birds breed. A juvenile bird falling from its nest may urge you to pick it up and raise it yourself. However, this could be a health risk for the birds you keep as pets.
Of course, you’d have to live in Australia for this to apply. However, birds native to your region might also have mites or other pests. Therefore, if you tend to bring wild animals home, you might not want to keep Budgies or other pets that wild populations could infect.
Similarly, suppose you keep your Budgie outside in a cage. In that case, it’s best to ensure that other birds cannot interact with it, potentially infecting it.
How Long Does Mite Recovery Take?
It can take up to six months for a budgie to recover from mites. An essential thing that affects how long it takes for the immune system to get better is how much damage it has to fix.
There are various products to treat acute mites. Most of these products work by killing the mites either by suffocating them or by contacting them directly.
The best treatment will depend on the type of mites and the severity of the infection. Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate treatment. It’s up to you to ensure your Budgie gets a visit to the vet.
Can Humans Get Mites From Budgies?
Humans are not the ideal hosts for mites, but we can still transmit them to budgies. If you have several birds, the risk of infecting each one with mites increases. Proper hygiene is essential when it comes to keeping diseases away from birds.
Generally speaking, humans have little to worry about when it comes to contracting the three common types of mites that affect Budgies. However, simple disinfection practices are usually sufficient if you’re concerned about it.
Mites in an aviary can be serious if you don’t detect the symptoms early. However, you can treat mild cases of mites by purchasing remedies off the shelf. You can find these products at your local pet store or veterinarian’s office.
Speaking of vets, and more importantly, you should consult a veterinarian. Misdiagnosis of a serious disease, thinking its mites, could be a life-threatening mistake.
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- “ How Can I Tell If My Birds Has Mites?” Jeffers Pet. June 30, 2016. https://www.jefferspet.com/blog/post/how-can-i-tell-if-my-bird-has-mites
- Harris, Samantha. “Why Do Budgies REgurgitate Their Food? Budgie Central. Accessed December 19, 2022. https://www.budgiecentral.com/why-do-budgies-regurgitate-their-food/
- Mullen, Gary. “ Mites” Science Direct. Accessed December 19, 2022. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/feather-mites
- “Mites-Recognising and Avoiding Infestation in Budgies, Canaries, and Finches.” Johnston And Heff. Accessed December 19, 200. https://johnstonandjeff.co.uk/mites-recognising-and-avoiding-infestation-in-budgies-canaries-and-finches/