Budgie Mites: Seek and Destroy
We’re all familiar with cats and dogs getting fleas, and the budgie equivalent is red mites. I don’t think there’s any animal in the world that doesn’t have to deal with parasites. In the wild, animals can be stuck with parasites forever, but our pets are lucky, because they have us the clean them up.
Red mites feed off many different animals, and are more common among chicken owners, but they’re happy to feed on our budgies also. These tiny, eight legged mites are less than a millimetre long, and are usually a greyish colour, making them nearly invisible.
Most of the time these mites hide in every crevice and crack around your budgie’s cage, including under perches, under cage lining, and under the cage itself. But, in the evening, the mites crawl onto your budgie for a feast, with the average feeding lasting two hours. After they’ve finished eating, they’re a nice red colour.
Budgies are in real danger from red mites, because the mites breed very quickly. Their week long breeding cycle means that in short space of time a small group of mites can develop into a colony of thousands. With thousands of tiny mouths feeding on your budgie, they can quickly become anaemic through loss of blood.
As if that isn’t bad enough, your budgie’s skin will be irritated constantly, especially when the mites are feeding. So, your budgie ends up getting hardly any sleep at night, which is bad for their physical and mental health. It’s common for budgies with mites to be irritable and sleep a lot during the day.
While most budgie illnesses can’t pass to people, red mites aren’t fussy about who they feed from. If you notice little, red bite marks on your skin, it’s a good indication that the mites could be feeding off you as well.
If you suspect your budgie has mites, a quick way to discover them is to wipe the underneath of their perches with a piece of tissue. If it comes out red, that’s squashed mites, so you know they’re there. Another way to discover them is to line the bottom of your budgie’s cage with plain white paper, and watch for mites showing up against it, especially in the corners.
Eliminating Red Mites
Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution to your mite problem. What you need is some elbow grease, and a lot of patience. You need to wash your budgie’s cage, and all its accessories, in warm, soapy water. You need to completely submerge the cage, to make sure you get all the mites.
You also need to clean the whole area surrounding your budgie’s cage, since the mites will crawl into any tiny crevice or hidey hole to rest and breed. It only takes a few surviving mites to give you a big infestation in a few weeks time.
After you’ve scrubbed the cage and its surroundings, you need to do it all again 5-6 days later. Since the mites have a 7 day breeding cycle, you want to get any newly hatched mites before they have a chance to breed.
When you’ve repeated this cleaning cycle two or three times, there’s a good chance you’ve eliminated the mites, but you need to keep an eye on the situation.
There are some poisons available for dealing with mites, but most are poisonous to your budgie as well, and you wouldn’t want to kill your bird just to get rid of its mites. Cleaning is the best solution, even if it is a little tedious.