Ectoparasites are located on the pigeon’s body. We see in the pigeons that both mites and lice can parasitize the pigeons. Not all species are a threat to the pigeons. Some species such as the long feather louse are very common on pigeons. Not all species affect health, but it is still important to check the pigeons regularly during the year for lice and mites.
Although not all ectoparasites pose a health threat, the degree of infection of the pigeons is often an indication of the hygiene in the loft and the general health of the pigeons. Pigeons that are heavily infected are often in a worse condition than slightly or not infected pigeons. Even with good care, it is not possible to prevent pigeons from getting lice, but that is usually only short-lived.
Lice And Mites In Pigeons
The pigeons are visited by two types of lice and three types of mites. These are discussed further below.
Long Feather Lice Or Feather Lice
This louse is by far the most well-known among pigeons. Because of its length of about 2 millimeters, this louse is almost impossible to miss during a check. This louse lays eggs, also called nits, in neat rows against the shaft of the feathers between the beards. The diet of the lice consists of pigeon dust.
A pigeon in good condition is well able to control this louse by bathing and brushing so that no real problem arises. We can help the pigeon with this by adding pigeon bath salt to the bath water, but also ordinary kitchen salt and vinegar in the bath water have a similar effect.
Small Feather Louse Or Tail Louse
This louse is usually found under the feathers on top of the coccyx. This is how the louse owes its name coccyx louse. The louse can also be found in other parts of the body. This louse also lays its nits between the beards of the feathers. The louse feeds on pigeon dust.
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This louse does cause irritation in pigeons. We then see that the pigeons peck a lot in the feathers. This unrest can also negatively affect the performance of the pigeons. We must intervene not only to improve performance but also to rid the pigeon of the teasing spirits.
Red Mite Or Blood Mites
This mite presents us with considerable problems because this mite is not constantly present in the pigeon. During the day, this mite lives in cracks and crevices in the pigeon loft. In the evening and night, they come to the pigeons and suck blood.
These mites definitely affect the health of pigeons. These mites also cause a lot of unrest. Pigeons visited by this mite often suffer from severe anemia or anemia. The mite also hides under breeding trays, if you lift the breeding tray you can see them run away.
This mite is not very common anymore, but every now and then it is found. The mite resides on the feather shaft but also in the feather follicle. This causes feather loss and bald spots that mainly appear on the underside of the pigeon. To be sure that it is the scabies mite, such a pigeon can spend a day in a box one day apart. Then look at the ejected coverts. If there is a thickening in the shaft of the covert, then the scabies mite is active.
The shaft mite is found against the shaft of the wing feathers and feeds on pigeon dust. The pathogenic factor of this mite is therefore only minor.
Foot scab is also called lime feet. It rarely occurs in pigeons. However, one should also be aware of this mite because this mite is irritating for pigeons. In chickens, we even see that the chickens with leg scabs peck the scales from the leg.
For the treatment of ectoparasites, several strategies must sometimes be used. The vast majority of lice and mites can simply be treated on the pigeon with a permethrin-based agent. This is best done two to three times a year. A few weeks before the racing season and after the racing season can be taken as a basis and possibly once more in the winter. This is insufficient for the red bird mite or blood mite.
The environment must also be involved in this. All holes and cracks must be treated with a torch and sealed. Don’t forget to treat other breeding trays and similar places as well. Dutchy’s® are also for sale in the trade. These are predatory mites from the Laelapidae family and are found in large parts of Europe.
These predatory mites are fierce fighters of, among other things, blood mites. They chase them all day and kill them and then eat them. It may take a while, but the predatory mites almost always come out on top. It is best to use this predatory mite if the burner has been used first and the animals and crevices have been sealed.
With the paw scab, the strategy is to suffocate the mite by applying greasy ointments or mixtures to the paw. Think of Vaseline, udder ointment, and also green soap. These resources are very suitable. The existing scabs also soften and the skin is restored. Lubrication, however, will have to be maintained for a longer period of time and daily.