Air Sac Mites
Air sac mites are a common cause of difficult breathing in Gouldian Finches and many other species of birds. For many years these little mites have been a constant irritation to Gouldian breeders and have resulted in many deaths and poor breeding performance. It is not just the Gouldian Finch that is susceptible to this pest, canaries to pigeons are commonly infected with this little critter and it has been reported in many other species of birds.
The scientific name for the air sac mite is Stemostoma Tracheacolum and it has the nasty habit of walking up and down the respiratory system of the birds it infects. The mite spends most of it's life cycle in the bird. Interestingly, the whole life cycle from egg to adult is only 6 days! The mite is transmitted between birds when they feed one another during court-ship, as parents feeding babies or from the environment.
Symptoms of infection will vary depending on the species of bird and the degree of infection. A loss of voice, coughing, tail bobbing and a particular "chirp" or clicking sound as they breath.
Treatment involves using an insecticide to kill the mites and maintaining treatment long enough to kill the newly hatched mites from the remaining eggs.
Household insect sprays can be used on smaller indoor cages by covering on the cage and giving short bursts of spray into the cage. This cage treatment is reasonably effective but must be repeated regularly as it will not kill the un-hatched eggs. We suggest once per week for 3 weeks. Be sure to remove your birds from their cage during this process.
To treat your birds for an air sac mite infection we suggest using Vetafarm Scatt. Ivomec can also be used, when formulated correctly the Ivermectin is absorbed through the skin and is effective for about a week. The bird should be treated once weekly for 3 weeks. If using Ivermectin look for a formulation suited for birds. The cattle pour on products are not suitable and will administer a massive overdose which will likely be fatal to the bird.
Using Ivermectin in water should be discouraged. Ivermectin as a chemical does not work well when diluted in water and starts to break down quickly. The inaccuracies of "in water" treatment combined with he destruction of the chemical make this method of treatment very inaccurate therefore it's not recommended.