Species category: Mites
Scientific name: Ornithonyssus
So small that they are almost invisible to the human eye, Bird Mites are typically 0.5mm in length. They are oval in shape with 8 legs and have a sparse covering of short hairs. Transparent in colour, these mites are incredibly difficult to detect.
Found all over the world, including Australia.
These mites spend most of their life either on or very near to the host. They will mostly be found under the birds feathers, until the infestation numbers swell to the point where the mites are knocked off into the nest and need to search further afield for a new host. They can tolerate cold weather when no host is available.
The mite feeds on the blood of birds and needs it host for survival. Despite the name, they have also been known to inadvertently bite humans and other animals as well. Once they engage with a host, they feed constantly and reproduce fast. A bird can suffer a mass infestation which can be detrimental in a very short space of time.
For humans, Bird Mite bites may lead to swelling and a rash. The bite may cause intense itching and some irritation which is a result of the saliva they produce when they are on the human skin.
For Birds, it can be more serious, if the infestation is very large, the bird can become weakened by this parasite. If the infestation is not treated, it could be fatal for the bird.