Feather Mites

BASICS

Definition: Proctophyllodes spp. (P. pinnatus on canaries),3 Analges spp., Megninia spp.5,28, Rivoltasia spp. 5

Other Names:

Disease Process: Feather mites are rare in pet birds.17 Feather mite species infect specific portions of specific feathers.5 They live between barbs of the contour, wing, and tail feathers, feeding on feather fragments, lipids, scaly skin debris, fungal spores, and algae.3 In general, feather mites do not cause disease, but can cause clinical signs in non-host adapted species,5 with heavy infestations,3,5 or if mites move from the feathers to the skin3,5 which can occur with overcrowding of mites.3 Irritation to the skin can result in skin lesions and can cause birds to pull out their own feathers.3 Mites lay their eggs (called nits) on the feathers.

Risk Factors:

Contagious?:



CLINICAL DISEASE

Signalment:

Symptoms:
  • feather loss on the head/baldness5
  • nervousness28




DIAGNOSIS

Differentials: Aggression from enclosuremates, malnutrition (e.g. low iodine in gouldians), male baldness (canaries)

Testing:
  • Masses of mites on feathers may look like many grains of sand; fanning wing and tail feathers out against background light reveals mites as tiny dark spots.3
  • Feather mites can be collected by placing an affected feather in 70% ethanol.5




TREATMENT

Immediate: Acaricidal dusts/sprays3

Long-term:



TYPICAL OUTCOME



PREVENTION



CONSIDERATIONS

Suggested Reading:

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