I often write about Gouldian finches, but the information is applicable to any pet bird including other finches, canaries, and parrots.
My New Bird Has Mites!
As I wrote in Could my Gouldian finch Have Mites?, many new Gouldians will come to you loaded with a mite infestation. Mites are not uncommon, at least here in Florida, and they are fairly easy to eradicate IF you treat both the environment and the bird, and IF those treatments are repeated at proper intervals.
To treat correctly, you first need to know what species of mite you’re dealing with. That’s because they all have different life cycles. To kill lthem off, you need to kill all the adults, then when the larvae hatch, hit those before they mature. Otherwise, the bird(s) will still be infested. A veterinarian can easily look at the mites under a microscope and identify them.
When to Treat
With a larger aviary or bird room and a large number of birds, we want to treat newcomers early, during the initial quarantine, so that we don’t bring mites or lice into the aviary. I start the first day with a good dose of SCATT on the skin. The directions say to put it on skin, not feathers, and the manufacturer recommends the thigh. Some people worry that the bird will lick it off the thigh, so they administer it on the back of the neck where the bird can’t reach. This is usually my approach, too. The other popular place for the drop is under the wing.
This treatment is effective for three weeks, so on the 21st day I dose them a second time. That of course will also stay in the bird’s system for three weeks, which should be enough to take care of any stragglers. I did only once have a mite infestation that lingered, and I think it was because I didn’t dose the new bird enough to eradicate the mites that were on her. They ended up on everyone and we spent about four months trying to rid the room of mites.
Treat the Area
Speaking of which – be sure to spray the cage FIRST with Avian Insect Liquidator or another equally effective product. Remove the bird first, have someone else spray the cage, and you put the drop of SCATT on the finch’s body. That way any pests that fall off will be killed by the AIL.
You may choose to use S76 instead of SCATT, and that’s fine. In this case treat by adding to water 2 days per week, for 3 weeks. Make sure this product is in the only available water source to ensure that all finches get enough for a dose. S76 will kill worms as well as mites. For scaly face or scaly leg mites, it can be directly applied.
How Often to Treat
Once you’ve done the two doses of SCATT, three doses of S76, or what have you that should have cleared all the external creepy crawlies on your Gouldian. But should you continue to treat for mites, or only treat as needed? Here are my thoughts.
If you keep your bird indoors, you have no newcomers coming in, you aren’t carrying your finch to shows – it’s probably fine to only treat when there are definite signs of infestation.
If you carry your bird to shows but otherwise keep them indoors, it is probably okay not to treat, but advisable to treat after show season as a precaution.
If the bird is outdoors, treat quarterly. Also do this if you tend to bring a lot of birds in and out, but you keep them indoors.
I treat quarterly (every 3 months). I catch every bird and trim its nails, examine it for signs of injury or illness, and place a drop of SCATT on the back of its neck. At this time I put them into a holding cage and scrub the cage out thoroughly. Then, IMPORTANT – I spray the cage/nest box/ tray below etc. with miticide. Currently I’m using this one.