Though they are similar to mites, bird lice are a different creature entirely. There are quite a few different species of bird lice, and many of them are named after the birds that they inhabit. They are easily the most common type of parasite that is associated with birds. They are often very difficult to see, and many novice bird owners donít even know that their bird is suffering an infestation until the later stages.
Lice are often broken into two main group types Ė the lice that bite and the lice that suck. Biting lice tend to be somewhat less of a problem, though not much less irritating to the bird, than the sucking lice. They feed mostly on dry bird scales and feathers. The sucking lice, however, actually bore into the birdís skin and begin feeding on the blood. Both types of bird lice will spend their entire life on the host. The only time that it will leave willingly is if it is attempting to attach itself to another bird. Bird lice can only live away from the host for a few days.
Lice lay their eggs as the base of the birdís feathers in clusters that are known as Ďnits.í These nits hatch in less than a week. Within a short time, they will grow to adulthood, and attach to the host, causing the poor bird even more grief.
You may notice your bird starting to behave strangely. It might be ruffling its feathers more than usual, or preening itself more often. It can also exhibit restlessness, and even seem irritated. In some severe cases, you may even notice a loss of feathers that result in bald patches on your bird.
If any of these occur, you should look and see if your bird might be suffering from an invasion of lice. Because the bird lice are quite small, you may need a magnifying glass to see them. They are different looking than mites and they are a bit longer. Their eggs are usually attached to the feather shafts. If you do see them, there is no need to panic. You can do several things to help control the problem.
First, you should remove all of the nesting material from the birdís cage. Properly dispose of the material so that other birds wonít become infected. While most types of bird lice are specific to certain types of birds, not all of them are. Second, you are going to want to treat the cage, thoroughly destroying any lice that might still be there just waiting for the bird to return.
To treat the bird, you can find several different types of treatment at just about any pet store. Powders and sprays work well to eliminate the lice. You should also check with your veterinarian to find the best solution for taking care of your bird.
After treating the bird, it is a good idea to check periodically and make sure that none of the lice returned. It is better to be safe than sorry and your bird definitely will appreciate it!