Most of us are familiar with the old adage that the early bird catches the worm. Robins and other birds can be seen greedily hunting worms after a rainstorm when they come to the surface. These examples of birds triumphing over worms are not always the case, however. Parasitic worms can pose a problem for the avian population. Let’s take a look at some worms that your bird does not want in its vicinity.
What Types of Worms Affect Birds?
According to petcoach.co, there are several types of worms that can potentially cause problems for birds. Chickens and fowl are prone to worm infestation, but other birds, including pet parrots, can also be impacted by these parasites. They are:
Roundworms – These parasites are also known as nematodes and can be found in many of a bird’s internal systems. They most commonly impact the bird’s intestinal tract. The problem starts when a bird ingests eggs that can be on contaminated food, soil, toys, and water. After the eggs hatch, the adult worms produce more eggs which are passed through the bird’s feces and cause further contamination. These eggs can be ingested by another bird or the original bird and the cycle starts again. The initial exposure to the eggs may come from an intermediate host such as insects or earthworms.
Flukes and tapeworms – Your indoor pet bird is not likely to be affected by these types of worms as an intermediate host such as a snail or earthworm is the only method of transmission. The intermediate host eats the eggs and then if a bird consumes the host, they will become infested with the parasites.
What Are the Symptoms That My Bird has Worms?
According to vetafarm.com, your bird can have worms and show no outward signs of the problem. These are some of the signs that a worm infestation is causing distress to your avian companion.
- Weight loss
- Poor feather condition and ruffled feathers
- Lethargy and sleepiness
- Reduced breeding activity and egg production
These signs of a worm infestation are also evident with other health problems that your bird may experience. If your bird is showing any signs of poor health a trip to the avian vet is recommended to ascertain the true cause of the issue.
How is a Worm Infestation Diagnosed?
Worm eggs and possible worms themselves may be seen in the bird’s feces. The most reliable method of diagnosing this problem is to have your vet conduct a microscopic evaluation of your bird’s feces to check for worm eggs.
How Can I Treat and Prevent Worm Infestations?
According to birdvetmelbourne.com, treatment with drugs alone is not sufficient to rid your birds of worms. The underlying environmental causes of the worm infestation needs to be addressed to avoid the problem occurring again. The general health of your bird can help it ward off egg infestation so keeping your bird in the best shape you can is a vital step in defeating a worm problem.
There are numerous worming formulas which can be tried based on the type of worm and your species of bird. Your best bet is to consult your avian veterinarian to identify the best method for you to try. Below is a video that shows some tips if you are attempting to worm your bird on your own.
The life cycle of the worms needs to be considered when attempting to prevent repeat infestations. Simply disinfecting the cage is not enough. The bird’s environment needs to be thoroughly cleaned and all potential items or materials that can house worm eggs need to be removed from the area. In order to successfully break the worm’s life-cycle, you will need to treat your bird over the course of several weeks. Keeping your pet bird off the ground and away from outdoor birds that may have worms is a great way to minimize your pet’s risk.
Caution needs to be exhibited when worming your bird. In cases of a heavy infestation of the respiratory or intestinal tract, killing many worms at once can cause a blockage and lead to the death of the bird. Consult your vet who may recommend treatment with smaller doses of medication until the problem subsides to a degree.
Original image sources available below:
Agricultural Research Service