Ask Lafeber


October 10, 2022


I just lost one of my cockatiels. I found her leaning her face into her food dish. I went to touch her and she fell off the perch. Her cage mate is OK, but we suspect he has mites or lice. We are treating him and the cage with Scalex. But we just got another cocatiel today and I put the new bird cage near his. How long do I need to separate b4 I put them together. He was very down when his cage mate died. When he saw the new one he was all excited and animated again. When can I put them together ❤️


Hi Maxine,

I’m so very sorry for your loss. Were you treating them for mites before she died? Those cage treatments for mites can be toxic and can kill a pet bird, especially if you cover the cage at night. But if there isn’t enough air flow anyway, the fumes are too strong. And using a cage treatment and a treatment on the birds, this can be toxic. Pet birds almost never get mites or lice unless they are housed outdoors and come in direct contact with wild birds. It is so rare that most Vets have never diagnosed a case. The only type ever seen is the scaly face mites and this is normally just on parakeets. But a lot of owners think their birds have them because of all the preening and grooming that a bird does. And then there is a lot of feather dander, especially with cockatiel because they have what is called powder down. I would cease any treatment immediately and wash the cage thoroughly to remove all traces of the chemical. If you still think there is a problem, then take your bird to an avian Vet to have the bird diagnosed.

As for introducing a new bird, you should keep them separate – ideally in different rooms – for 45 days. If the other bird didn’t die from the mite treatment, then you have no idea why she died. Cockatiels are notorious for carrying Chlamydiosis(psittacosis) which they can pass on to another bird. Without treatment, the bird will die. It’s best to take the new bird and your other bird to a Vet to have them both checked out and possibly tested for this disease, since you did lose your other bird. Unless you think the mite treatment was the cause. Either way, I would keep the new bird quarantined for 45 days to make sure it is healthy, then you should slowly introduce them. What you are seeing as excitement might be aggression. So when you do put them together, it needs to be when you can be there all day to make sure they get along and don’t fight. Also, if this new bird is a baby and your bird is a male, you really shouldn’t put them in the same cage until she is over a year old.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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