How to Tell If Your Bird Has Mites: 14 Steps

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How to Tell If Your Bird Has Mites: 14 Steps
How to Tell If Your Bird Has Mites: 14 Steps

Birds are susceptible to external parasites such as mites. An untreated infestation of this pest makes the bird very sick or kills it and is still contagious to humans. Some bird species such as parakeets, parrots and finches are more likely to have mites. This type of mite, that of birds, feeds on blood, lives and proliferates as a fast-paced reproduction in the nest or cage. However, the mites die after three weeks without a blood supply. All that said, this article looks at some steps you can take to treat the infestation so that it doesn't show up again.


Part 1 of 3: Recognizing the symptoms

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 1

Step 1. Look for scabs around the beak and eyes

Mites burrow into the bird's skin, usually near the eyes and around the beak. This is called the infestation of the Knemidokoptes pilae mites, or face burrowing mites. In the early stages of the infestation, you can barely see the mites, and at this size they won't interfere with the bird's overall condition. However, you may notice scabs on the corners of the beak or on the beak itself.

The white bumps will thicken and get even bigger as the mites continue to burrow into the skin. The upper part of the bird's face will appear to have large holes as the mites will dig tunnels or paths into the skin. At some point, the skin around the eyes and beak will look cavernous or full of thick, deep, crusty, and irritated tunnels

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 2

Step 2. Check the bird for scaly and irritated skin on its legs

The leg can also be affected by mites, in this case by Knemidokoptes mutans, or leg burrowing mites. The mites will burrow into the skin of your legs and lay eggs inside. As a result, the skin can become very dry, flaky and develop crusty formations. These parasites also release metabolites that cause serious irritation that leaves the skin swollen, full of scales or rashes.

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 3

Step 3. Observe if the bird gets restless at night or if it rubs its beak too much

Mites feed at night. Mites' bites cause the bird to show a lot of restlessness or irritation at night. On the other hand, he may also be restless or try to scratch the skin in the cage for the same reason, except during the day. In an attempt to remove the mites, the bird may also be rubbing its beak on the feathers or scratching itself excessively. However, these attempts fail to eliminate them.

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 4

Step 4. Observe if the bird has breathing problems

Mites can also burrow and infest the trachea, bronchi or sinuses of birds. Infestations in these places can cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing or breathing difficulties. He might start breathing with his mouth open, panting. Observe him in the cage and see if these symptoms appear.

The bird may be losing weight from the infestation. There is also the possibility of it cracking its beak or having changes in the corners due to the mites having made holes in the respiratory system

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 5

Step 5. See if there is damage to the feathers or if they are falling out

The bird may have visibly damaged feathers, missing pieces, or several feathers that have fallen to the bottom of the cage. It is the consequence of the bird having rubbed or tried to clean the feathers excessively to get rid of the mites under the skin.

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 6

Step 6. Examine the bird's head and legs at night for any swarms of mites

Mites reproduce during the day and feed at night. For this reason, you should use a flashlight to see if mites are prowling these parts. Appearance may vary, but they usually appear as small red or black dots (sometimes spots) that move and burrow into the bird's skin.

Part 2 of 3: Identifying Mites in the Environment

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 7

Step 1. Look for clusters of small red dots in the cage

Mites are very small beings. They measure about 1 mm in length and are semi-transparent until the time they ingest the blood, turning black or red. One way to identify an infestation is to check the cage for clusters of red or black dots. Pay attention and see if they move after 5 minutes, as they are walking beings that tend to move to find the host.

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 8

Step 2. See if you have small bites on your body

The bird can easily transmit mites to you. Consequently, you may experience symptoms of a mite infestation while you are living with and tending to the pet. Bites will usually appear around the mouth or nose and will appear swollen or simply reddened.

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 9

Step 3. Be aware of movement sensations in your skin when you are in bed at night

These sensations indicate that the mites have gone out to feed on blood.

It's good to know that mites feed on humans but don't live on them, as they cannot complete their life cycle in a human host. Although they do not transmit any infectious disease to humans and birds, there is a chance that you will develop a secondary infection by scratching the bite site and creating an irritation

Part 3 of 3: Treating the Problem

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 10

Step 1. Take the bird to the vet inside the cage

You will not be able to see the mites during the day, but your veterinarian can take a look at the cage to confirm that there is an infestation.

Remember that mites live in the bird, not the cage. Depending on the extent of the infestation, it may be necessary to clean the cage to exterminate the mites

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 11

Step 2. Get a prescription for topical medications depending on the bird's needs

Stronger drugs will need a specific dosage in terms of weight and species. Therefore, always use a veterinary prescription to fight mites. Over-the-counter medications will not provide long-term treatment and may not be as beneficial to the bird. The veterinarian will prescribe a topical treatment or perhaps injections to treat the infestation.

You will also need to make follow-up appointments with your veterinarian to ensure the mites have been killed

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 12

Step 3. Apply treatment to all birds in the house

Burrowing mites are very contagious. It is important to treat all birds if one of them is diagnosed with mites. It serves with great precaution if the infected bird somehow contaminates the other birds in the house.

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 13

Step 4. Avoid using dust mite protectors

Often found in pet stores and on the internet, these protectors claim to protect or control a mite infestation. However, they can't always stop an infestation and many of these products contain mothballs, which can cause a variety of problems for the bird: liver damage, respiratory tract problems, depression and an increased risk of contracting some cancers. Always avoid them!

Tell if Your Bird Has Mites Step 14

Step 5. Don't rule out calling in an exterminator to eliminate house mites

In case the infestation is big, call him as soon as possible so that it doesn't get worse.

Some companies will inspect the house for free and give you an estimated time to completely wipe out the infestation. Try to find a pest control company that specializes in bird mites, as they will use the proper chemicals that will remove the mites and prevent another infestation


  • Sometimes it will not be possible to talk to the veterinarian for treatment. That doesn't mean your birds can't be cared for. There are some topical treatments available in pet shops and on the internet, citing here the most used: Ivermectin and Moxidectin.
  • It is always worth asking other breeders or bird breeder groups about your bird's situation. Some breeders are willing to help with the care of other birds.


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