Mite treatment for birds and their environment with sudden onset of Feather Damaging behavior - 2014

Susan Clubb, DVM
Rainforest Clinic for Birds and Exotics
Loxahatchee, FL 33470

Please understand that this is not a proven therapy for feather damaging behavior.

Although mites are rarely found on plucking birds, it is not impossible that mites could be present, especially nocturnal species which hide during the day in tiny crevices in cages, toys, perches, under the tray, or otherwise in the environment. Older recommendations for finding these mires is to put a white sheet over the cage at night and inspect the sheet the next day looking for tiny red spots which are actually mites full of blood.

We have recommended treating your bird for mites because they suddenly started plucking and are itchy, especially if they are itchy at night. For this treatment we treat both the bird and the environment.

We will spray the bird with a mild, safe insecticide to kill any unseen mites which may be on the skin or feathers. We will also dispense ivermectin to put in your birds water, which will kill any mites that bite the bird. This is usually given in the water for 2-3 days, then the 2-3 days treatment repeated in 2 weeks.

You will also need to treat the cage and environment.

Remove all toys and perches.

Preferably take the cage outdoors to clean adequately. Wash the cage completely with soap and water. Spray the cage completely so that insecticide penetrates any cracks in the cage. Malathion is safe or you can use “Raid” Max Bed bug and flea killer.

Wipe off the residual insecticide and allow cage to dry. Hopefully some residual will remain in the small cracks and crevices.

Any fabrics such as happy huts or cage covers should be laundered in hot water and detergent. Perches can be sprayed with insecticide also, or baked to kill the mites.

Depending on the toy you may wish to spray them if hard surfaces, bake them, launder them, or discard them.

Please monitor your bird for any signs of problems (None are expected). Taking serial photos of your bird will assist in determining if the treatment is successful.

Please remember that feathers that are barbered, bitten or chewed off will not regrow until they are molted naturally. However if the feathers are plucked they should regrow if the feather follicles are not damaged.

Please give us any feedback or observations that you wish to share.