A GOOD HEALTHY SKRITCH FEELS GREAT BUT ...                           
Fleas, Mites, and Lice with Parrot-family Birds is Unlikely - Don't Confuse Normal Preening with a Problem 

by Sally Blanchard

External parasites such as fleas, mites, or lice are so rarely a problem with companion parrots that products such as Mite Protectors or insecticide sprays are not only useless but can be VERY dangerous for our parrots and other birds. If you have a flea infestation in your home with dogs or cats, you may find a flea on a parrot but it won't stay there. About 30 years ago I did a consultation with a newly imported Blue-front Amazon and found a louse in the yellow of his head. I caught it with a piece of tape and checked for more but couldn't find any. I called my avian veterinarian and he asked me to bring it to him to examine because lice were so rare in companion parrots. There is a Scaley mite that can be found in Budgies, some other parrot-family birds and some finches and canaries, especially those kept outdoors. Usually, the obvious symptoms are clusters of scaley growths around or on the beaks, eyes, or feet. They should be treated immediately as they can grow so much that they can kill the bird. The mite protectors are useless for these and actually can make the bird sick. It is like you sleeping with a giant mothball container at the head of your bed. The cure for scaley mites is a shot of Ivermectin given by a bird knowledgeable veterinarian. I caught a Budgie outside near where I lived that had a terrible scaley mite infection. Took him right to my vet for the shot and within the week or so, it cleared up completely.

Itching and scratching is usually a normal part of parrot behavior just as with dogs and cats. However, if the scratching is severe, constant and done with a vengeance to the point of losing feathers or getting skin sores, this may be caused by diet problems, dry skin, an injury, allergies, an infection (feather follicles can occasionally develop infections), or the pathogenic parasite Giardia. Your parrot should see a veterinarian to determine the problem as it could also be the start of a health problem or disease that could result in feather and skin destructive behavior.

While bathing is essential, if it is just dry skin, the best way to combat dry skin is with the addition of essential fatty acids (EFA-3) sprinkled on the parrot's moist foods - this includes help oil and flax oil. These oils can really help the skin and feather condition. The most common food allergies in parrots can be corn, wheat, soy, and peanuts - the base foods of most pelleted diets. Don't let the veterinarian push you into feeding a pelleted diet as these chemical-laden, highly processed foods may be the cause of the problem.




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