How to Identify and Control Lice in Pet Birds

There are many species of avian lice, some of which are named after the bird they parasitize or the area of the body they prefer. Lice are wingless insects and are the most common external parasites of birds. They are so small they are often invisible to the naked eye. Lice are placed into two groups: Biting lice and sucking lice.

The entire life cycle of the lice is spent entirely on the bird, leaving it only to attack another victim. The eggs are laid in clusters along the shaft of the feathers. These egg clusters are referred to as nits, and hatch within a few days, producing nymphs. Nymphs are young immature lice. The nymphs then go through changes and later become larvae, which go through several more changes before they finally become mature adult lice. Adult lice can live for several months on the host, but they can only live for a few days away from or off their bird host.

Signs & Symptoms of Lice on Birds

Restlessness, excessive preening, ruffling of feathers and irritation. Sometimes the plumage and feathers don’t even appear to be damaged by the lice, even in very severe infestations. But in some cases, evidence of feather damage by lice is quite evident.

How to Control Bird Lice

To control bird lice, the bird activity inside or on the housing/cage must be eliminated or prevented and all nest materials removed. Areas where nests are located often require treatment to eliminate any wandering lice. Dusting powders, bathing solutions, and vapors have all been found satisfactory. Solutions in the form of sprays containing pyrethrum, gammaxene, and other substances are recommended for eradication of fleas etc., are efficient and more persistent than dusting powders and vapors. They need to be used with considerable care, especially on small passerines as some are toxic to some species of birds. You should always check with your veterinarian before using any of these products.

Creatures Corner Fun Facts

The strike of the eagle talon is so powerful that its force is twice that of a rifle bullet.

Nine egg yolks were found in one chicken egg.

The Bird with the Longest Beak is the Australian Pelican. Its beak is up to 18.5 inches long.

The arctic tern makes the longest migration each year, flying 20,000 to 25,000 miles each year from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again.

The heaviest flying bird is the Kori bustard weighing as much as 40 pounds or the equivalent of a 6-year-old human child.

The smallest bird in the world is the bee hummingbird, which is 2.5 inches long, weighing only 0.06 oz.

The Green-winged Teal is the only species of duck known to scratch in flight.

The chicken can travel up to 9 miles per hour.

Alektorophobia is the name given to “The Fear of Chickens.”

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