Poultry mites

Red poultry mites are small mites that live of the blood of birds. All birds can get parasitized by this mite, cockatoos as well. Usually you’ll find this mite in canaries, chickens and small tropical singing birds. Also wild birds suffer from the red poultry mite. It is rare in parrots and cockatoos.

Poultry mites on the lid of a nesting box of starlings

What is a red poultry mite?

There are many species of mites and a few species that live of the blood of birds. The most common mite that parasitizes on birds is the red poultry mite Dermanyssus gallinae. When full of blood they are bright or dark red in color and 1 or 2 mm in size. During the day these mites hide in cracks and cervices of the cage or aviary where birds are kept. In wild birds they hide in the nest. So when it is light out, the mites cannot be seen on the body of the birds. In the night the mites come out of their hiding place and start to look for birds. When they find them, they will crawl up to them and suck their blood. Before dawn they will return to their hiding place where they also reproduce.

Symptoms of infection with poultry red mite

When a cage is infested with poulty red mite, they birds will sleep restlessly and scratch themselves a lot. A cockatoo that suffers from a lot of poultry red mites will develop anemia because of blood loss. This only occurs when there a astonishing amount of mites parasitizing on your cockatoo. Young birds and cockatoos can die of this. Young canaries are very susceptible to poultry red mites and will often die because of it.

Finding the mites / Checking for mites

Enlarged picture of a poultry red mite

If a cage, nest or aviary is infected with poultry red mites they mites can be found in cracks and small dark corners of the place. Take a flashlight and check in these small places. If you see black or red little dots moving away from the light, you have found poultry mites.

Killing poultry red mites

In the past chemical substances where used to kill poultry red mites, but many of these have become illegal to use. There are three ways left to get rid of Dermanysus gallinae:
1. Clean the whole cage with a steam cleaner or burner
2. Spreading silica powder
3. Poison on the basis of permethrine
A company sells predatory mites to combat the parasitic mites organically, but this treatment is proven to be ineffective.

Prevention of poultry red mites

You can prevent your cockatoo from getting attacked by poultry red mites by preventing wild birds to make a nest close to your cockatoo, by keeping canaries and birds bought in fairs away from your cockatoo and by using a cage that has no hard-to-clean cracks.