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The red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) measures between 0.7 and 1.1 mm in length. It crawls across the body of the bird on its eight legs and feeds on the bird's blood. During the day, these tiny parasites hide in corners inside the cage or in crevices in perches where they reproduce. The development of the red mite from egg to larvae in temperatures of about 70°F lasts only two days. If the temperature is between 48° and 59°F, it takes five days for the larvae to develop.
Since the red mite is active during the night, it cannot be traced on the bird during the day. A budgie suffering from these mites is extremely restless at night, does not get any sleep and scratches itself often. During the day, the bird sleeps often and appears to be exhausted and depressed. If the bird sleeps little during the night, this can be seen by the distribution of its droppings inside the cage. In order to trace these mites, a white piece of cloth should be draped over the cage which should be checked during the night for any suspicious small red dots walking across the cloth.
Another method for finding the red mite is the masking of the corners of the cage or aviary with tape. The red mite gets stuck on the sticky tape and can be seen as tiny red dots. Dead mites tend to turn dark relatively quick.
A therapy in the classic sense of the word does not exist for the bird itself. It is important to rid the cage, environment and accessories of the mites. It is advisable to move the bird immediately into a different cage that contains new cups, perches, swings and probably new toys. This cage should not be kept in the same spot in your apartment where the mite-infested cage used to stand. The surrounding environment can also be mite-infested and these have to get rid of before the bird can return to its old place.
Clean and disinfect everything that the bird got into touch with. Especially drinking containers and cage should be treated with hot water and a brush. It is advisable to throw out the perches and swings and to get the litter-bag out of the apartment right away. Furthermore, you will need a contact poison that you will get from your avian vet. This poison kills the mites as soon as they get in touch with it. It is important to use the precise dosage since the bird might otherwise be poisoned.
It is usually not necessary to tread the bird itself or to make it endure a poison-cloud, so do not spray any treatment onto the bird itself! This might actually do only harm! Consult your vet on the appropriate method for exterminating the mites.
German version of this text: Gaby Schulemann-Maier,
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