Mites in canaries – Symptoms and Treatment

Whether you have canaries or a pet , as if you are the creator of these birds, you may have come across some signs that made you suspect the presence of some parasite in the feathers and the skin of your faithful alarm clock with the first rays of sun. Mites are one of the most frequent parasites in these birds, and it is interesting as owner to recognize them so that your veterinarian indicates the most appropriate treatment as soon as possible. In YourCatCareguide we will propose you this brief guide, which we hope to clarify some of your doubts about the mites in canaries, their symptoms and treatment .

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Knowing the enemy

There is a wide variety of external parasites that can affect our canaries, but undoubtedly, one of the most common are canaries. These ubiquitous arachnids can range from casual to even more serious disease.

Passeriforms (singing birds such as canaries, diamonds, …) and parakeets (parrots) suffer from the undesirable presence of mites, and although certain types of lesions alert us to their existence, in other cases they may go unnoticed for long periods due to the particular cycle of some species.

To facilitate the task of recognizing mites in canaries, we divided into three groups :

  • Cnemidocoptes spp, the mite responsible for scabies.
  • Dermanyssus spp, red mite
  • Sternostoma tracheacolum, tracheal mite.


Cnemidocoptes spp, responsible for scabies

It is a type of mite in canaries that passes its entire life cycle in the bird (larva, nymph, adult), invading the epidermal follicles, where it feeds on epithelial keratin and nesting site. The females do not lay eggs, it is a living species that has its larvae in the galleries that form after penetrating the skin barrier, and completes the cycle in about 21-27 days.

The canary is infested through direct contact by stepping on infected scales that another canary left on the cage bars. The only good news is that the mite does not last too long outside the host.

Once the mite is installed in the canary, its activity and the release of metabolites into the follicle causes chronic irritation and a production of solid exudate that will lead to hyperkeratosis , ie, abnormal skin proliferation, on the legs, beak, wax and, at times on the face and eyelids. This translates into a crusty appearance in the affected areas. It is a slow process and the owners usually refer to the appearance of ” scales on the legs“if it is at the beginning of the process, and in some cases more severe, it indicates that more fingers have left their canary. It is not strange to find cutaneous proliferations in the form of elongated and whitish masses around the fingers of the animal, which can lead to confusion if not As can be seen, these lesions are not usually accompanied by an itch at the beginning, something that may delay the trip to the veterinarian.We can find canaries that live with this problem for months, observing only in the states final itching, claudication or pecking at the extremities (self-injury by discomfort).

The observation of these characteristic features in the paws and / or beak, together with the clinical history and a good response to the treatment, usually leads to the diagnosis. The scraping of the affected areas for their subsequent observation under the microscope does not always evidence the presence of mites in the canaries very deep, as it happens in well-known mites, like Sarcoptes in canids. Therefore, it is always necessary to perform a complete exploration of the patient, since the appearance of parasitic diseases is often related to immunodepression (descent of the defenses). In addition, it is critical to determine the precise weight for a correct treatment.

What is the treatment?

The treatment against this mite in canaries is based on avermectins (ivermectin, moxidectin …), in doses that vary depending on the weight, age and particular conditions of each individual, being necessary to repeat after about 14-20 days (estimated time of the mite cycle). A third dose should not be ruled out.

Sprays and sprays do not have much effectiveness in treating a scabies mite, their location is too deep to take effect. Sometimes, if the bird is too weak, the therapy can be applied directly on the affected areas, previous elimination of crusts.

As a complementary measure, proper hygiene and disinfection of cages and bars, a quality feed and the application to tea tree oil or even olive legs can be helpful. The oil is non-toxic, softens the dermal lesions, and can penetrate when they go into the follicle, drowning the next generation. It is a help, never a single therapy.

Dermanyssus spp or red mite

This type of mite is known as a red mite because of its color. It is not very frequent to see them in the canaries that we maintain as a companion bird in the interior, but rather in collectivities of birds, such as aviaries, etc. It is particularly common in chicken coops, but parasites any bird. It mainly affects young birds and has nocturnal habits . At night he leaves the refuge to feed himself.

As symptoms of this mite in canaries, we can refer to nervousness, poor feathers and even weakness if the degree of parasite is extreme and steal too much blood. Sometimes we can detect the visible mite on light surfaces.

In this case, the sprays may be useful , applied at a certain frequency in the animal (depending on the activity), and in the environment (where the mite lives), although it may also serve the therapy with avermectins.

The life cycle of this type of mite in canaries is fast, as it can be completed in 7 days under suitable conditions. This should be taken into account in order to apply the appropriate products every week on affected animals and the environment, and not allow time for the start of a new cycle.

Fipronil in spray or piperonil for birds is usually effective and safe, but we must remember that birds are much more sensitive than any other pet to aerosols, sprays, etc., so a correct advice on concentration, frequency of application, and disinfection of the environment, is essential to ensure that the process is carried out safely.

Sternostoma tracheacolum or tracheal mite

Following the order of more or less frequent, we have lastly of this guide on mites in canaries, the Sternostoma , known as the mite of the trachea. In fact, it affects the air sacs, lungs(where it reproduces), trachea and syrinx . It has a rapid life cycle such as the Dermanysses , estimated to be completed in a 7-9 days.

It is a parasitic disease that may be overdiagnosed by some breeders and amateurs, since its symptoms are very similar to other conditions, such as mycoplasmosis, chlamydia (respiratory diseases that also often affect several specimens of a community).

Aphonia (loss of singing) or changes in phonation (snoring), the presence of sneezing, dry coughing and the appearance of breathing noises such as whistles are the most frequent symptoms of this mite in canaries and, therefore, the signs owners can see. Unlike other diseases that have these same signs, the animal usually presents a good body condition, maintain the appetite and hygiene standard in the beginning, but can evolve into something more serious. Some specimens will itch in the area of ​​the beak and nostrils, or rub against the bars due to the itching that these small invaders cause.

How is it diagnosed and what is your treatment?

To diagnose the presence of these mites in canaries we can opt for direct observation if we have good eyesight and illumination, but sometimes we should resort to samples with swabs and observation under the microscope.

Once diagnosed, elimination is relatively simple with avermectins every 14 days , a minimum of twice. The local instillation is another option, but the zone is complicated to be able to accede with a drop of the product to apply.

Excessive proliferation of this parasite can lead to death from obstruction of the airways, although this type of extreme cases usually only occurs in unsupervised animals such as wild birds or highly compromised animals. However, one can never completely ignore their presence despite the fact that, although they are sure that the canary comes from a professional and methodical breeder, many of our friends receive the free bird visit during the hours they spend on the terrace. it is not always easy to detect this parasite in the first months of life, when we usually take the canaries home.

But direct contact between birds is necessary for their transmission (sneezing, coughing and, above all, the use of common drinking fountains), so a brief contact with other birds during their playtime does not usually pose a high risk in this case.

Proper disinfection of all cage elements is imperative to end the problem, as well as the treatment of all affected canaries, and a great vigilance of those that do not yet show symptoms but share habitat with the patients.

Remember that at YourCatCareguide we do everything to keep you informed, but it will always be the veterinarian to indicate the best option to treat your canary, depending on the conditions of it.

This article is purely informative, in we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.

If you want to read more articles the following may have to be read about Mites in the Canaries – Symptoms and Treatment , we recommend you to enter our section on Parasitic Diseases .

    Emily Harris

    Hi Guys, Girls, and Cats:-pI am Emily Harris, and you can see in above pic. She loves me I swear. I saved her from a dumpster a few weeks back.

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