parasites in birds

Most Common Parasites in Birds

Are you worried that your bird has parasite infestation? Some pet owners are confused when their bird gets parasites because they assume that just because their bird stays indoors that makes them immune to parasites.

However, things are much more complicated because birds can easily get parasites even if they never go out. Birds can get parasite infestation through a variety of ways and in some cases birds can experience parasite infestation without a physical contact with another affected bird.

A bird can get infected with a parasite through toys and objects from outside. Keep on reading as we’ll discuss how a bird can be infected with a parasite.

What Is A Parasite?

A parasite is an organism that depends on another organism (the host) for survival and nourishment while living on or within the host. A vast variety of organisms, including plants, animals, and people, can have parasites.

They affect their hosts and can result in a variety of health issues, such as illnesses, infections, and nutritional deficiencies. The term “parasite” refers to a variety of organisms, including bacteria, fungi, helminths, arthropods, protozoa, and helminth eggs.

Types of Parasites

Birds and parrots are susceptible to a variety of parasites, including:

  • Protozoans are single-celled creatures that can spread diseases such as candidiasis and avian malaria.
  • Roundworms, tapeworms, and flukes are types of the multicellular parasites classified as helminths.
  • Arthropods: These parasites consist of fleas, ticks, mites, and lice.
  • Fungi: Diseases such as aspergillosis and candidiasis are caused by fungus infections.

There are some species of parasites that are colonizing the insides of a bird such as intestines. Avian veterinarians call these types of parasites endoparasites or internal parasites. There are also parasites that live on the surface of an animal. They are called ectoparasites or external parasites.

Internal and external parasites can both cause major injury to birds and have a negative impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Internal parasites can cause nutritional deficiencies, anemia, organ damage and in some cases death. External parasites can cause skin irritation, injury, disease transmission, blood loss and reduced immunity.

Parasites typically prosper at the cost of their hosts ( birds) and feed on their skin, feathers, or blood, depending on the species. For example, thiny arthropods seek refuge in the bodies of birds, which can cause serious health issues. The presence of parasites has no benefit for birds.

How Are Parasites Transmitted to Birds?

Birds can get infected with parasite infestation in a variety of ways including:

  • Contact with contaminated surfaces: If a bird come into contact with contaminated surfaces, such as bird feeders, water sources, or soil, they may get infected with parasites.
  • Ingestion of infected prey: Birds eat insects and spiders and if they are infected the birds will automatically ingest the parasite.
  • Direct transmission for other birds: When birds come into intimate contact with contaminated birds during mating or playing, they might become infected with parasites.
  • Vector-borne transmission: A bird can get infected by a parasite by coming in contact with ticks, lice or mosquitoes.

How Are Parasitic Infections Treated?

External parasites are usually treated with antiparasitic drugs, either topical or oral. If your bird has external parasites you should also take care of  your bird’s surroundings, including its cage, food and water bowls, perches, and toys. They all should be completely disinfected.

Internal parasites can be treated with a range of drugs, both oral and injectable. Because of the life cycles of most parasites, multiple treatments may be required. Annual veterinary exams and fecal tests can help identify whether your bird is parasitized.

It’s advisable that you do not treat your bird on your own. You should always contact an avian vet. Treating your bird on your own can cause further damage to your bird or even death. Keep in mind to never treat your bird with aggressive biochemical products without supervision of an avian vet.

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