Air Sac Mites

By Connie S. Soto


How do my birds get air sac mites?


The mite moves from bird to bird through direct contact of an infected bird through the nasal passage. In cases of parent and their young they transmit upon feeding their young. Courtship feeding is another way to transmit the mite. Contaminated water is another source of transmission.


What are the signs that point to air sac mites?


A bird that bobs its tail, one who makes a wheezing sound or clicking noise, sneezes, coughs or breathes with its mouth open, rubbing its beak on the perch often is all signs of air sac mites. A fluffed up appearance means a bird is trying to conserve their body heat. If your bird is listless or fluffed up a hospital cage that provides a light bulb for extra heat is the first line of defense. Cover the hospital cage to keep in the heat.


Explain a little about the lungs of the bird?


A bird has a set of lungs which 9 are air sacs and the birds have a high metabolic rate. The air sacs have thin walls and very few blood vessels. So when the bird is infested with air sac mites it takes a lot of their energy to maintain itself.


Which birds are more prone to air sac mites?


Canaries and finches are more prone to air sac mites.


Where do the air sac mites live?


They live in the respiratory tract of the birds and sometimes can be dormant. That means that when a bird is vulnerable it can quickly spread throughout the flock when the environment is just right which might take us by surprise. Quick action is necessary in these cases.


What happens to my bird if it becomes infected with air sac mites?


Suffocation is the biggest threat to your birds if it is infected with air sac mites. A mite causes a mucus coating and causes the inability for the bird to breathe. Body movement is an important indicator because the bird tries to bring more air into the lungs and tail bobbing is a strong symptom.


How long does it take for the cycle to complete in air sac mites?


The life cycle takes only six days to complete its cycle.


How often does it reoccur?


The problem with air sac mites is that it can remain dormant causing eruptions at any time. Regular applications are important to keep them under control so that they do not cause suffocation.


What do you use to control air sac mites?


I personally use SCATT to keep air sac mites under control. Other folks swear by S76 which I do not feel is as effective for my birds.


What ingredient actually kills the air sac mites?


The active ingredient is Moxidectin which is harmless to the bird as birds do not have the same needs as the mite.


Will my bird live if I treat it for air sac mites?


Not always will your bird survive when you do a treatment of SCATT. If you treat a heavily infected bird the lungs fill up with dead mites causing the demise of the bird. It is important to treat early and routinely so that it will not obstruct the air ways causing asphyxiation.


This is a difficult but common problem with canaries and finches and I wish you luck in prevention and eradication of this infestation.




My Sweet Little Tweeky who loves to sing!