Most pet owners are familiar with stories of flea infestation of dogs and cats that either they or an acquaintance has had to overcome when caring for their animals. Pet bird owners are not immune to this problem, as birds can also be afflicted by these small, nasty insects. They thrive on the blood of their hosts and can be especially problematic for younger birds. Bird fleas can also be a nuisance for humans and other pets that are exposed to them.
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What is a Bird Flea?
According to jcehrlich.com, bird fleas are just one of many types of fleas that exist and cause irritation to their hosts. They have eyes and antennae that can be easily observed and have mouths that are adapted to piercing skin and sucking the blood of their hosts. Bird fleas are usually brownish in color and measure up to 5/16 inches (0.79 cm) long.
How Do Bird Fleas Reproduce and Become a Nuisance?
Bird fleas are especially prevalent in the spring months when birds are nesting and raising their young. According to pestium.uk, the larva feeds on organic materials that can only be found in bird’s nests. The fleas develop into adults in the autumn but remain in their cocoons until the spring. Activity in the nest or movement of the nest resulting in vibrations will speed up the hatching process, but in any case, eventually, the adults will emerge from their cocoons and begin the search for hosts.
Jumping is a flea’s main method of locomotion and how it eventually locates a host. Their jumps are triggered by shadows. Bird fleas face the light, and when a bird, human, or other creature casts a shadow they jump in the hopes of landing on a suitable host. If they miss, they wait and try again.
In this way, bird fleas can travel far from the nest where they originated, being carried into your home by anyone who was outside. They can also gain entry into your home through laundry hung out to dry, as well as nests in chimneys and roofs. Caution needs to be taken when cleaning nest boxes as you can be exposed to many bird fleas. The best way to clean your nest boxes to avoid this problem is to do it in the winter and outside your home.
Can Indoor Pet Birds Get Fleas?
Excessive scratching by your parrot is probably a sign of a parasite such as lice or mites rather than fleas. The most probable ways that a pet bird that is kept indoors will contract fleas is by walking around on the floor in an area already infested with fleas. They can also pick up fleas by being brought outside in a cage in the warm months. If you notice any signs, such as bites on yourself, that indicate fleas may be in the area you should refrain from bringing your birds outside.
What Problems Can Bird Fleas Cause?
Bird fleas are especially dangerous to young birds. The birds can be subject to anemia or even death by the loss of blood caused by a severe infestation. These conditions can also affect adult birds if the source of the fleas is not addressed. This should not be an issue with captive birds if there is no prior flea problem. If you are a bird breeder you need to be vigilant in keeping your nursery free from fleas.
The presence of bird fleas can be annoying and potentially hazardous to humans and other mammals. Fleas bites can set off skin reactions in addition to the pain of the initial bite. A single bite can often be the case of major skin irritation in cats and dogs.
How Can I Prevent Bird Fleas?
The first thing you should do is take a visit to the vet with your pet bird. However, this may not remove the source of the problem and so you’ll need to take other actions as outlined below.
Taking care not to bring bird nests or nesting boxes into your home is one way to minimize your exposure to these insects. If you find that your home or yard is infested with fleas there are many commercial and natural solutions. You can certainly enlist the services of a professional exterminator who will probably use chemicals that may be dangerous to any pet birds in your home. You will need to ensure their safety during the process.
Alternatively, there are several natural remedies to flea populations, according to thehealthyhomeeconomist.com. Inside your home, you can try sprinkling food-grade diatomaceous earth on the impacted areas. Nematode treatment can be tried in your yard or outdoor areas that are home to flea colonies. These microscopic insects are sprayed on the land and plants and will help control the flea population naturally.
As always, if pet birds are involved, be extremely cautious of powders or chemicals that can negatively impact their delicate respiratory systems. You don’t want to eliminate the fleas at the cost of one of your avian family member’s health.
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