Most of the fleas that invade homes end up on the eyes and coats of some of your pets.
Once they hit one bird, for instance, the rest of the aviary will be at risk of infection. Fortunately, they rarely kill birds but can cause considerable discomfort and scarring on the skin.
But, Do Budgies Get Fleas?
Yes, though rarely. There are several types of pet fleas out there but the most common are the members of the not-so-large Ctenocephalides genus. This genus prefers to attack dogs and cats (C. felis and C. canis). While they are commonplace, they seldom land on a parakeet.
However, just because your bird is safe from them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautionary measures. If any of your pets is sick, whether from an illness or mite/flea attack, consider isolating your budgie from the entire bunch. Some pet medications come with components that parakeets dislike. For example, fumes and solutions from fungicides and certain insecticides can make your bird sick.
So What Kind of Flea Attacks Budgies?
If you catch your pet scratching himself around the eyes, or he preens too often, chances are high he’s being tormented by fleas.
Sticktight flea, or Echidnophaga gallinacean, attacks parakeets more than any other domestic bird.
They have been found to invade horses, canines, turkeys, chickens, and even cats as well but to a lesser extent.
As the name suggests, they bury their heads in the skin of the host and hold tightly, then start to imbibe happily on the poor bird’s blood.
The abdomens of the fleas can be identified as tiny raised black/brown bumps that never move even if you try to run pull them out with a bare hand (this can be painful to the bird).
Mites and Lice Are Just as Bad
Fleas may not be the only cause of discomfort on your birds.
The above-mentioned sticktight fleas may attack your parakeet jointly with mites and/or lice especially if the room is dusty or crowded with lots of other birds and pets.
Mites rarely attack parakeets but when they do, they are likely to be knemidokoptes or mange mites.
The most observable symptom is scaly beaks and feet. A scraping from the beak/feet will need to be examined under a microscope by the vet.
How Do You Tell?
Birds troubled with fleas, mites, or lice will display the same behavioral signs and symptoms, meaning you need to subject them to a more comprehensive examination for proper diagnosis.
Watch out for these signs:
Constant flea bites are no joke.
If your bird seems to be restless or experience episodes of irritation, chances are high fleas are gnawing on his skin.
More serious cases may cause the bird to move around constantly even when he should be sleeping or resting.
2. Skin Irritation
More aggressive flea/mite attack can lead to the reddening of the skin mostly as a result of irritation and sustained scratching. The skin may look too pink than it should.
3. Excessive Preening
Birds normally preen in their free time to clean their coat and keep the feathers in order. Excessive preening, however, is a sign that your bird is trying to remove an irritant.
4. Visible Mites
Although mites are too small to spot easily with an unaided eye, a close inspection under a strong light should reveal their activities and even the movements of the adults on the skin.
Fleas are easy to see even with a bare eye as they are bigger than mites.
5. Damaged Weathers and/or Droopy Demeanor
If the fleas are left unremoved for a long time, and the infestation increases, the damage on the skin and feathers can become more profound.
How to Eliminate Fleas
If you find fleas on one bird in a flock, the rest are almost certainly infected.
Therefore, if you have more than one bird, start by separating them to limit spread and reinfection.
Proceed to clean their toys and cage before embarking on treatment.
You will need to use a disinfectant to kill the eggs and other infectious debris.
You can start by scrubbing the cage with white vinegar, boiling water, and F10 veterinary-grade cleaner.
When it comes to treatment, the best way is the veterinary route.
Parakeets don’t respond well to most chemicals and fumes, meaning it would be risky to introduce them to any medicinal substance without the guidance of your vet.
Refrain from medications designed for parrots – ensure the formula is specifically made for parakeets.
Because of the complicated nature of flea attacks (clustering around the eyes) and the need for proper dosing, it is recommended you leave the whole treatment exercise to a qualified pet.
Most of the flea removers used to treat birds come with carbaryl or pyrethrins. These compounds are some of the most effective out there, but should not be excessively on parakeets.
What Are the Home Remedies?
While it’s recommended you take your bird to the vet for treatment, there are few home remedies you can use to ease the situation as you prepare for the appointment.
1. Salt + Boric Acid
Perhaps the least costly and safest way of freeing your birds from this torment is to mix salt and boric acid without adding water.
Take your powder and spray it on all surfaces used by your pets.
Boric acid is harmless to pets, so you can lightly sprinkle it in the wings and feathers of your bird without worry.
Being a desiccant, Boric acid will dry the skin and deprive the flea of essential moisture they need to adhere and keep sucking blood from the host.
Better yet, boric acid help alleviates the effect of the flea attack on the scales and helps reduce the redness on the skin.
2. Soap Water Method
If you’ve established that some areas of your home are infested with fleas more than others, place a bowl of cold soapy water in the corner or anywhere nearby.
Add a lamp and let them stay. At night, fleas will leap into the bowl from their hiding spots and drown.
3. Vacuum Cleaning
Vacuuming the surfaces is effective for egg removal, especially on beddings, upholstery, and carpets.
The collected debris should be sealed in a plastic bag and disposed of away from the house.
4. Insect Growth Regulators
Another great way to prevent the eggs from ever hatching is to sprinkle an insect growth hormone on surfaces.
They help keep the population of the offending fleas at the minimum and make their elimination a little easier.
You can start with Pyroproxifen and Methoprene.
5. Natural Insecticides
Go for a quick natural insecticide: Citronella oil, citrus peels, eucalyptus oil, and balsam, tea tree oil, etc.
6. Basic Sanitary Measures
You can keep your home flea-free if you keep it clean at all times.
Wash your stuff often. Disinfect surfaces once in a while.
Keep the space dust-free.
So, do budgies get fleas? In one word – “Yes.” Sticktight flea, or Echidnophaga gallinacean, attacks parakeets more than any other domestic bird.
They have been found to invade horses, canines, turkeys, chickens, and even cats as well but to a lesser extent. considerable discomfort and scarring on the skin.
There are actually many types of pet fleas out there but the most common are the members of the not-so-large Ctenocephalides genus.
This genus prefers to attack dogs and cats (C. felis and C. canis). While they are commonplace, they seldom land on a parakeet.