Ask Lafeber

Question:

January 13, 2021

Feather loss


Hi! My cockatiel always suffered from feather mites and its been pretty bad as there is no vet near our home and i tried a lot of ways to get rid of them such as apple cider vinegar for 2 weeks i tried for it didnt work, garlic and i also bought a “stop mites” spray which include feather mites too.. and i sprayed it on my cockatiel for 2 days for the week and it had worsened. He’s loosing a lot of feathers now especially tail feathers and the main feathers. The feather mites jus doesnt go its been there for his whole life.. He also have pin feathers is that rare? Please tell me what to do about these 2 things.


Answer:

Hi Aysha,

I’m sorry that your bird is suffering this way, and I know you want to do what is best for him. He really needs to be seen by an Avian Vet. While there may not be one near you, that is often the case and many bird owners have to travel several hours to take a bird to an Avian Vet. Veterinary care is one of the most important responsibilities of pet care, so it is something you need to do for your little guy, even if the location is not convenient. As far as having feather mites, this is extremely rare in pet birds and would not cause the issues you are describing. If he has always had a feather issue, then he may have a genetic disorder, some type of internal problem, a skin infection or even malnutrition. A Vet can run tests and discuss diet with you so that you can help your bird. Home remedies are never the answer – you are using ineffective treatments which can cause more harm than good. The over the counter mite treatments can be very toxic and should not be administered without a diagnoses by a Vet and instructions from a Vet as to what to treat with and how to administer it. Sadly there are many pet bird owners who give very bad advice on the internet. They may mean well, but this type of advice can cause harm to your pet. You need to seek advice from experts like us, and from a Vet. Your bird may be going through a heavy molt right now, or he may be plucking out his own feathers. Birds go though a heavy molt about once a year, where all feathers are molted over a few weeks and new feathers grown in. They molt feathers all year, but generally it is just a few here and there until they have their heavy molt. All feathers begin as pin feathers and as they finish growing in, the bird preens itself and removes the waxy covering. A single bird can have trouble removing the coating from his own head feathers, so you can gently scratch his head feathers to help the pin feathers lose their coating. So losing a lot of feathers and having pin feathers is normal once or sometimes twice a year, but poor feather condition all the time is a sign of an illness and/or a nutritional deficiency. I urge you to seek Vet care for this bird, and please no more home remedies. Again I highly doubt he has mites – he most likely has an issue that a Vet can treat with the proper medication and diet.

Take care,

Brenda

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