..common and treatable
by Myra & Joanne

Scaly Face is most often seen in Parakeets (Budgerigars) but can be found in finches as well. There are three types of mite that cause Scaly Face. Each one targets a different type of bird species.

Knemidocoptes pilaeinfests Psittacines (many parrots)
Knemidocoptes jamaiscensisinfests Passerines (some finches & song birds)
Knemidocoptes mutansinfests Domestic fowl (chickens mostly)

To continue with the contiguity of this article I am going to talk mainly about finches but, this article can relate to most all bird species.

Scaly Face occurs when the mite burrows into the finch's skin and lays its eggs. As the eggs hatch and the mites grow they cause the Scaly Face look. The results in such an infestation can be any or all of the following:

  • Scaly/crusty lesions
  • White film-like coating of the skin
  • Localized swelling of tissues
  • Pitting of the tissues.

In severe cases the finch (or bird) may be permanently disfigured.

The visual signs of a scaly face usually start around the nares or the corner of the beak on either side. The crusty or filmy lesions then move to the eyes and can cover the eyelids. The infestation can also occur on the legs. Without treatment your finch will eventually die.

This condition is also called Tassle Foot in Canaries and other passerines. This mite is not highly contagious but is the result of immune suppression most often related to a nutritional imbalance or genetic predisposition. The treatment involves cutting excess tassles with a clipper as well as applying medication to areas involved using a cotton Q-tip plus Moxidectin in the drinking water.

Treatment with Moxidectin
Initial treatment is paint on Neem oil daily for 7 days. Neem oil is a natural parasitic that is also wonderful for dry skin, you can apply it as often as you like with no worries. Also give Moxidectin in the drinking water for 1 day. Repeat Moxidectin monthly in drinking water treatments until all signs of mite have disappeared (recovery varies from 2-8 weeks depending upon the severity of infection.) Usual cure time is 3-4 weeks with mild infestations. Keep away from eyes & nostrils. 

Treatment with SCATT
Apply a drop of SCATT for 30 grams of body weight to the upper part of the thigh one time and then again 3 weeks later. After applying the drop, place several drops of neem oil on a qtip and gently paint the affected area. Take care when working on the beak not to get any liquid into the bird's eyes & nostrils. Neem oil is a natural parasitic that's great for skin too. You could use Moxidectin in the water, if catching the bird is too stressful, for you or the bird:)  Neem oil is a natural parasitic that is also wonderful for dry skin, you can apply it as often as you like with no worries.

Disinfect cage weekly using Avicare or Pet Focus.

A little history for those who may be interested: Scaly Face has been a problem ever since people started keeping birds as pets. For a very long time everyone thought Scaly Face was caused by a mold or fungus infection. Many topical ointments and solutions were tried but little worked. It wasn't until 1951 that the mite was discovered to be the actual cause. From then on avian fanciers and veterinarians alike have been working to find the best way to kill the mites.

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