Story Bird: Sprite
This is a story of Scaly Face Mites. They are a microscopic mites that are particular to Budgies.
Sprite is the cutest little lime-green Budgie (hence the name) that we brought home in February of this year (2000). A few weeks ago we noticed she was doing what we called "The Mexican Hat Dance," she was shuffling her feet every now and then as if something was bothering them. We thought her feet were sore even though she had a variety of perches, and so we added a platform type perch, thinking that the problem was sore feet, and in fact thought we saw some improvement in her "dancing." One day I was looking at her and noticed what looked like growths on her feet. It turned out that she had the Scaly Face Mites. These little mites show themselves in crusty growths on a bird's beak and/or feet, and what is happening is the mites are actually tunneling into the bird's flesh and leaving growths on the exterior, which can get to be quite extensive if not treated. After taking her to the vet, she received intra-muscular injections of Ivermectin (three or four injections depending on severity). Her cagemates, Shadow, Lilly, and Snowey each received injections as well, as both Lilly and Snowey both were starting to show little growths on their feet as well. The mites do not live outside a "host's" body, but can be contagious if passed directly. Budgies will typically show mites if they are carrying them after about 6 months. Our vet indicated to us that injections were the proper course of treatment as the mites need to be treated systemically. An older method of "painting" the bird's feet with the medication is not effective.
Sprite is back to her happy bouncing self and has stopped dancing!