Ask Lafeber

Question:

December 2, 2022

COCKATIEL BREEDING


Please help, my cockatiels have 4 eggs now and I have not checked if they’re fertile or infertile. I want to clean the nest since the hen seem to have brown spots on her chest and tail (witch I think is bird mites) and yes there have been mites in their old cage (that led to 2 of their babies dying) before and I did clean it and the birds. So now is it okay if I replace the old litter with clean litter in their cage and see if there really are any bird mites? I would appreciate if I got an answer asap. Thanks and have a good day:)


Answer:

Hi,

If you clean the box or make any changes at all, the parents will almost certainly abandon the eggs. In many cases, if a pair is disturbed too much, they will destroy or eat the eggs, or kill and sometimes eat the chicks.

Mites are almost unheard of in pet birds unless they have been around wild birds or are housed outside. And the type of mites they get would not be visible to the human eye. (Finches & canaries can have air sac mites & scaley mites are very common in parakeets – again these can’t be seen) Mites would not cause chicks to die unless there are blood sucking mites in the cage. Again, this is rarely the case. Owners often mistake food pests like weevils or grain moths as mites, but these are also harmless. There is a pigeon louse that birds get, but again they would need to have contact with wild birds. Mites & lice and species specific, meaning they can only exist on the right type of host, so bird mites & lice can only spread through direct contact with an infected bird or its environment. The mites/lice do not survive for very long if they fall off of the bird.  If you indeed have some type of mite infection, you need to board the birds at a Vet, fumigate the room where the birds live, and throw away everything in the cage that is made of wood or other porous materials, including all bedding and the nest box. Then you have to disinfect the cage. You should definitely not breed your birds if you have some type of mite issue. But again, I suspect you have some other type of bug, if there are any bugs in the cage. Ants will get in bird cages and they will kill adult and baby birds.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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