In the past I have bought pet birds from some irresponsible breeders that didn't exactly care for the health and wellness of their birds, I've also been given birds or I adopted rescue birds that have come to me with the burrowing mites disease. I've brought ill birds into my home and quarantined them so I could deal with this problem as quick as possible, but really I know the other birds I own in my home will come into contact with the mites causing every bird in my home to need treatment for the disease.
It can be a lot of work and a big pain dealing with this disease but it can be even worse it can be extremely expensive for you to treat your birds for the illness depending where you live
. I'll explain that as I go on.
Some of the birds I received came to me with scaly face mites or mites on their feet and legs, but the very worse case of mites I ever encountered was with my canary Mr Peepers having air sac mites as well as feet and leg mites. The air sac mite infestation was so severe the avian vet said the bird was choking to death and he feared the treatment wouldn't work in time to save him.
Burrowing mites can be easily treated with medicine as soon as you think you see the signs your bird/s have it.
First the bird needs medical treatment from an avian or regular vet or depending where you live, there are some places across the globe that you may purchase your own medicine to treat your birds, which is good especially if you own more then 2 or 3 birds or are a breeder.
Since burrowing mites are so tiny and microscopic you can't really see them but you can see the damage they can do to your birds which will identify the illness to you.
Scaly face mites burrow down into the cere or beak of the bird causing what look like wart type growths around the face or you can easily see white chalky patches on a birds beak and around the cere showing the problem as its getting worse. Mites cause wart like growths or piles of what look like scabs or shingles on a birds feet and legs which is another way of identifying the problem.
You can't see air sac mites in a bird but you can hear them by listening to your birds chest near your ear, you will hear a clicking sound or slight wheezing and you may notice your birds mouth is often open as it tries to catch breaths.
The bird in the picture below has a heavy case of burrowing scaly mites on its face.
Treatment at the avian/vets is usually done over a 3 week time period, you will need to see the avian/vet once a week for dose of a medicine called Ivermectin every 7 days. The vet will place a single 0.1% drop of ivermectin onto the flesh of the birds neck under the feathers assuring it goes directly to the birds system.
0.1% is the correct amount of ivermectin medicine that is administered to budgies canaries and smaller pet birds.
Now you need to clean and clean and clean then clean some more!
Its best to do a serious cleaning of the cage or cages before putting your bird back in its cage/home so while my birds are sitting comfortably in their carriers I give them a treat to bribe them after the trip to the avians then quickly get to work on their cages away from the area they are in.
If you have 1 or 2 birds and a few extra dollars available to spend then I'd suggest you buy new toys and cage supplies even perches as starting out fresh is one way to make sure you won't have mites return to your cage once its sterilized clean.
If you can't afford to discard everything to start over new just make sure you throw away the cuttle bone and mineral block as they will be the most contaminated from your birds rubbing their faces on them before they were treated for mites. Buy a new cuttle bone and mineral block and place them in the clean cage after the 2nd weeks treatment so they will be sure to be free of mite contamination.
I have a small inexpensive hand held steamer that can steam clean the entire cage from top to bottom while getting into every little crevice especially where the bars are soldered to the cage frame, these are the spots mites can easily hide causing them to remain and reinfect your bird/s.
Boiling water from a steaming kettle and clean cloths can be used to clean your birds cages if you don't have a steamer available to use. I use clean old disposable towels or tee shirts to wipe and clean the cage, then I bag them up and throw them away so I don't have to deal with washing them in the laundry later.
Once the cage is steamed/cleaned from top to bottom and wiped completely dry with clean cloths to make sure there is no lingering water drops on the cage as this can cause rust to form on some cages, rust will make your birds ill if they come in contact with it.
I make sure to steam all the wooden perches as well as ladders for the cage as all birds swipe or wipe their beaks on their perches especially after they eat or drink so the perches will be contaminated needing to be sterilized cleaned well.
I steam the birds water and food dishes and toys really well letting them dry before I place them back in the cage/s. You can soak food treat and water dishes in boiling water or wash them in the hottest setting of a dish washer to clean them.
If you have a wooden type bird play center that your bird/s have been hanging out on this too needs to be cleaned and disinfected.
Any where your bird sits or hangs out needs to be cleaned well, I've steamed my curtain rods in the bird room where the budgie and canary use to like to sit. I had to steam clean the blades on the ceiling fan and clean on top of picture frames where the budgie hung out after being in contact with Mr Peepers the mite monster.
Then I place the bird or birds back in their clean cages.
Every week when I bring the bird/s home after being treated with ivermectin at the avians, l re-clean the cages thoroughly steaming them again making sure they are sterile once more before I put the bird/s back in their cage. By doing this I have always been able to get rid of the disease right away without having it return after treatments which gives me peace of mind knowing my birds are safe and healthy again. It can save you time and money if you go the extra mile with excessive cleaning between treatments.
If you purchase medicine to treat your pet birds at home yourself then you usually have to follow a treatment of 3 dosages over a 21 day period the same as if you go to an avian or vets office for care.
You still have to clean the cage/s and contents the same as I've described above so don't skip the cleaning steps as you can re-infect your birds if the mites aren't eliminated properly.
To deal with the facial scaly and leg and feet mites during the 21 days ivermectin treatment I swab small amounts of petroleum gel or vaseline on Mr Peepers feet and legs every other night to deal with his feet and leg scaly mites. The vaseline helps to soften the scales or shingles on the areas of the feet and legs. I would do this late in the evening before I would put the bird in his cage to sleep each night, when he's sleeping he's not fussing with his legs or feet. In the morning I could easily wipe and peel scales and scabs of the crusts off his legs and feet.
Other things people use to combat legs feet or even beak scaly mites is small dabs of olive oil or mineral oil but be cautious using the oils as it can be messy and cause damage to feathers if the oil gets on them.
Vaseline or mineral oil will not kill the mites if only helps soften the scale and scabs, if you do use the vaseline or oil its a good idea to steam and clean your perches every few days to assure you are killing mites that may be trapped in spots of oil on the surfaces of perches. Try and avoid using rope or twisty perches when you are treating your birds for mites using vaseline or mineral oil, its almost impossible to keep these types of perches clean or sterilize them during 3 week treatment process.
Where to buy Ivermectin?
In the United Kingdom you can go to a pet shop and buy Ivermectin medicine for small or larger birds. You can also order this product online from ebay, pet bird or breeder sites and Amazon.UK and have it delivered to you.
There is Spot On for single treatments of one bird or larger packages of Spot On that have 6 pipettes for more treatments if you have more birds.
If you have a lot of birds perhaps you are a breeder and have a flight cage or coop full of budgies or other types of birds, you can buy a larger 10 ml bottle of Ivermectin that can treat your birds and chicks many times over a few year period, depending on the size of your flock.
Make sure to buy the product with the proper dosage that suits the size and breed of your birds.
If you are in the USA
there are pet shops and different pet bird or parrot sites that sell SCATT as well as ebay and Amazon.com all which can be ordered online.
SCATT is another excellent product that can rid your birds of this disease which is also available overseas in the United Kingdom.
Also, in the USA
Ivermectin, which is the best product for your birds it is what your avian or vet will treat your birds with if your birds have mites.
Ivermectin can be purchased online at Amazon.com ebay as well as pet and breeder sites that sell products for birds.
If you are in Canada
unfortunately its not that easy for you to find any type of medicine to deal with mites for your pet birds.
I live in Toronto Canada and I can't order or have Ivermectin or SCATT shipped to me from anywhere in the USA or overseas.
These products are banned and not approved for sale in this province as well as Montreal Quebec I'm not sure about the rules regarding this with the other provinces in Canada but I've ordered ivermectin and SCATT twice from the USA and received notices from Health Canada and the Post Office this product isn't available to residents in Canada so it was shipped back.
This is unfortunate especially if you are a breeder who wants to keep their birds healthy, you don't exactly want to run to the avians to treat 20 birds as this can cost you a huge amount of money.
When I took Mr Peepers and SPX to the avians for the 1st treatment of ivermectin it cost me well over $300 for the 2 birds first treatment which included the vet consultation fees and a culture on Peepers who was so badly affected by the disease, the fee for the actual ivermectin wasn't that expensive. This was an eye opener knowing I had to take both birds back for the next 2 weeks for another 2 treatments each. COSTLY!
I strongly believe its good for everyone to give their pet birds a yearly treatment of ivermectin or SCATT to help keep this disease away. I give my birds a treatment once a year just to assure my pet birds stay healthy and mite free.
~ Mr Peepers