Ectoparasites

Cause:
Red Mite and other blood sucking mites, Feather mites, Skin Mites and Pigeon Fly are the main external parasites of pigeons.

Symptoms: 
Mites, lice and Pigeon Fly infestations are commonly found in pigeons. The blood sucking mites such as the red mite  will live in cracks and crevices in the pigeon loft and come out after dark to suck blood. The quill mite lives inside the shaft of the feather. They cause severe irritation to adult pigeons. This irritation may affect racing performance. When they feed on babies in the nest they may cause anemia and even death.  Skin mites cause skin rashes and severe irritation. Feather lice live on the feathers of pigeons and are an indication of poor husbandry in a pigeon loft. The pigeon fly sucks blood and causes severe irritation to pigeons. It is also known to transmit pigeon malaria that may have a devastating effect on pigeons racing performance. Pigeon fly may also transmit lice and mites from one pigeon to the next.

Diagnosis:
Visual inspection of the feathers of pigeons will reveal the mites on the feathers or on the skin. The placing of balls of cotton wool in nests in the evening and removing them in the morning will reveal the presence of red mite.


Slender pigeon louse, Columbicola

Treatment:
Six to eight weekly application of Pyrethroid sprays or the application of pigeon specific Ivermectin spot on drops.