Air Sac Mites

Air Sac Mites: Diagnosis, Symptoms and Treatment

Birds have nine air sacs that help them breathe. They are also susceptible to parasites. One parasite that has proven to be fatal to birds is the air sac mite. This parasite likes to live in the air sacs of birds, but it can also move tobronchi, trachea, their, and lungs, causing breathing difficulties. The air sac mite is common in Australian finches such as Gouldian finches.


Air sac mites do not appear on your bird without warning. Therefore, unless you recently acquired a new bird or brought home a new family pet, it is unlikely that air sac mites are responsible for your bird’s respiratory problems.

Air sac mites pass from one bird to another through sneezing or coughing, or by food and water contaminated with feces containing egg mites. When birds are breeding, they infect chicks through feeding. Because they are contagious, infected birds should be isolated from other healthy ones.


Signs of infection include, Low mortality, Excessive wiping of the beak due to rhinitis, General weakness and loss of physical condition, Difficulty breathing and gasping, Loss of voice and frequent shaking of the head and Wheezing, coughing, sneezing and squeaking.

One of the first signs of infection is sneezing. Other symptoms include gasping for air, shaking the head, wheezing, coughing, and frequent voice loss.


There is a problem with diagnosing air sac mites. These symptoms are difficult to distinguish from many other pathogens that cause respiratory illness. The question is how do we isolate the air sac mites?

Information is power. When I had a problem with my bird, I looked in the handbook and found the answer in the Handbook of Avian Medicine , on page 177. That book says:

Sometimes, air sac mites can be diagnosed by shining a light through the trachea of a live bird. This is easier than you think: just moisten the throat and part the feathers and you’ll see the mites as tiny black dots.

A post-mortem examinaA post-mortem examination is the most reliable way to diagnose the disease. It can be diagnosed by finding in the lungs, trachea, and air sacs of the mites. tracheitis, Airsacculitis, and focal pneumonia may be evident.

If you are interested in using transillumination, I recommend practicing with a healthy bird first. Transillumination is not appropriate for all birds, so it is important to test it out on a healthy bird before using it with an infected one.

Air sacs mites treatment

Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug commonly used in the treatment of roundworm and threadworm infections in pet birds. The standard dosage is a single drop to the skin, repeated after two weeks for most species. Any medication should be monitored by your vet.

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