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Common challenges with pet birds


Mites and lice are the two most common external parasites that affect pet birds. Your bird may

become infected from the aviary you purchased your bird from, or from wildlife that passes near

your house.


Mites are microscopic creatures that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

They cause a, itchy scaly, crusty look to the face or feet of pet birds and are

particularly common in budgies and cockatiels. There are other less common

mites that can affect the air sacs and cause breathing difficulties.


Unlike mites, lice are often visible to the naked eye. They are more common

in chickens but can affect parrot species as well. They tend to cause itchiness and can lead to feather

loss and skin conditions.

Internal Parasites

There are many internal parasites that can affect birds, including roundworms, tapeworms, flukes,

and protozoa including Coccidia, cryptosporidium and giardia. Thankfully these parasites are rare in

pet birds who were purchased from a reputable breeder and have been kept mostly indoors.

Signs of worm infestation can include weight loss, lethargy, sitting fluffed up, decreased appetite,

and abnormalities with droppings including diarrhoea or blood in the stool.

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease is caused by a contagious virus.

It can affect almost all species of birds. The virus is very contagious

and spread via contact with shed feathers or dander. The disease

presents as abnormal weak feathers and loss of feathers, as well as

suppressed immune system and general illness.

To prevent your bird from catching beak and feather disease, there

are a number of things you can do. In addition to ensuring you only

buy birds from a reputable breeder, it's also important to ensure

strict hygiene standards at home with good dust control, and always

make your bird has little or no contact with wild birds.

Figure 1 Scaly face mites -

Figure 2 Feather loss due to PBFD

Egg Bound

Egg binding is a common reproductive problem that causes the bird to retain the egg in the

reproductive tract, unable to expel it naturally. A serious condition when the egg becomes “stuck”

near the cloaca (vent/anus) or inside the reproductive tract of a female bird Egg binding affects

those who may have low calcium levels or are continuous egg layers. Low temperatures can

sometimes cause egg binding. Further risks from egg binding include infection and internal

tissue damage especially if the egg breaks; if left untreated may cause death.

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