Parasitic diseases

Canary Lice - Prevention and Treatment

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: April 25, 2018
Canary Lice - Prevention and Treatment

Many people opt for birds when it comes to having an animal at home. There are many species of birds that you can adopt as pets, and canaries stand out as among the most charismatic and likable.

Canaries are cheerful animals, and they are easy to look after. However, they are also at risk of various diseases and are especially susceptible to parasitic infections. This AnimalWised article will talk about the prevention and treatment of canary lice to help you provide the best care for your pet.

You may also be interested in: Lice in Chickens - Symptoms and Treatment


  1. Red lice in canaries
  2. How to know if my canary has red lice
  3. How to treat canary lice
  4. How to prevent canary lice

Red lice in canaries

It is common for canaries to be affected by lice. They are especially susceptible to parasitic infections caused by red lice, a parasite that feeds on the blood of mammals and other vertebrates, attacking the weakest birds first, starting with chicks.

It can be difficult to detect these parasites because their habits are nocturnal and they only appear at night. Continued vigilance is essential in detecting red lice as soon as possible, because the later the treatment is started, the harder it is to completely eradicate this parasite.

Canary Lice - Prevention and Treatment - Red lice in canaries

How to know if my canary has red lice

Detecting a parasitic infection caused by red lice is essential. Observe the cage and the canary's behavior during the night. There are various methods that will help you confirm the presence of this parasite:

  • Inspect the cage during the night with a flashlight. Look out for any signs of stress in your canary and if it is trying to repeatedly scratch itself.
  • Cover the cage with a white cloth overnight. The next morning you may see red spots on the cloth, and you may even be able to see a parasite attached to it.
  • During the night you can also leave a small bowl of water with a few drops of vinegar in. The next morning you may find a parasite has drowned in it.

Another sign that can be observed in your canary is pale skin. This indicates the presence of hematophagous parasites, which consume blood.

Canary Lice - Prevention and Treatment - How to know if my canary has red lice

How to treat canary lice

Red lice are very difficult to remove, especially if they are not detected in time, so a broad-spectrum antiparasitic is necessary; in this case, ivermectin. This is an active substance that can be applied to internal and external parasitic infections.

However, an overdose of this antiparasitic can cause neurological symptoms in canaries and can even cause death in some cases. It is therefore vital to not medicate your canary yourself. Your vet will tell you how to manage the antiparasitic medicine, including what dose should be used and how often to apply it.

Canary Lice - Prevention and Treatment - How to treat canary lice

How to prevent canary lice

To prevent your canary from being affected by lice and other external parasites it is important to take into account the following advice:

  • Regularly clean and disinfect the cage and all your canary's accessories.
  • Add apple vinegar to the water your bird bathes in to repel parasites; this will also brighten its plumage.
  • Regularly apply an insecticide or acaricide. Your vet will inform you about what is the most suitable product.
  • Monitor your canary's behavior. It is important to detect parasitic infections as early as possible.
Canary Lice - Prevention and Treatment - How to prevent canary lice

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Canary Lice - Prevention and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Parasitic diseases category.

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Three years ago I bought a Canary for my parents. He was looked after by my dad (cage clean, bath and feeding regularly). The bird was very happy and never stopped chanting. He had a name "Othman". One day my uncle introduced a female to him. The couple never fought but for an unknown reason Othman stopped singing. 4 days later my dad found Othman dead. Do you have any explanation to what caused Othman to die. The female seemed happy. Thanks.
Hi guys
I have 20 canaris and recently I saw lice in their cages .please tell me how can I get rid of lice ?
Jane Bertin (AnimalWised editor)
We recommend checking the canaries' plumage to get an idea of how important is the infestation. After that, go to the vet to get the right antiparasitic product and dose depending on the number and type of lice. Ask your vet if a drop or two from a dog's anti-flea pipette will work; a common natural remedy for lice is essential tea tree or lavender oil with a spray, so you can ask their opinion about that as well.
Besides, make sure you disinfect the cage thoroughly on top of the usual hygiene routine, including washing their toys and accessories at a high temperature to kill nesting parasites. Do the same with your own clothes after. We hope that's useful. :)
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Canary Lice - Prevention and Treatment