Scaly-face or Mycosis of the Beak:
This first shows up as a spotty, greyish-white film on the upper mandible, starting at the corners of the beak and spreading sometimes to the ceres, the rims of the eyes, the legs, and the vent. Possible cause: This disorder is caused by the tiny burrowing mite Cnemidocoptes pilae, which is present in passive form from nestling days and months or even years later can seriously affect a bird weakened by stress or other negative influences. The mite burrows into the horny tissue of the beak or into the epidermis and feeds on skin particles and lymph. Sievelike tunnels destroy the skin, and the horny growths that appear are the bird's defense mechanism. The greyish film that shows up first can harden like scales and form welts and protrusions. In the initial stages this disorder bothers a parakeet very little, and it rarely spreads to other birds. Often the hardened growths fall off by themselves and they are not necessarily followed by other symptoms.

Below is a picture of a Budgie          		Below is a severe infestation of mites around
with  severe scaly face affecting           		the eyes and beak causing fleshy protrusions.
the beak cere and skin around the eye.  	    	The flaky skin will dry and fall off in time
The beak would become malformed if not treated. 	if treated.

Measures to take:
Since Mycosis of the beak usually affects parakeets with temporarily weakened resistance, the birds general state of health should be watched. Give the highest quality food and add a multivitamin solution to the drinking water. Greens (vegetables) are recommended for the birds health also. The visible film and growths should be gently dabbed with an antidote, but never with an oily contact insecticide, which could enter the circulatory system through the skin and be fatal. Many veterinarians recommend special ointments. In minor cases balsam of Peru, Parrafin Oil, mineral oil or baby oil or Benzyl Benzoate or Dettol disinfectant may be effective. Dab the effected spots with a Q-tip three times a day for three days, then twice a day every other day for up to 3 weeks. Make sure that none of the medication gets near the eyes, nostrils or mouth. If the feet are effected, promptly remove the band if possible, because the legs tend to swell, causing the band to cut off circulation. This disease is also contagious to other birds in the nest or aviary. Some say the oils is the best remedy but we use Dettol with good success if caught early. The oil should soften the scaly part which may fall off and then a good disinfectant like Dettol can be used.

Cure or Prevention:
A cure for a severe mite problem is IVERTMECTIN available at most vets or some pet supply stores. Dettol disinfectant full strength can be used for mild cases of mites on the legs and cere and for disinfecting cage utensils. Dab it on using a q-tip. Never put Dettol near or in the eyes or ears. Some oils such as mineral oil or baby oil can also be used as the oil will kill the mites and soften the skin. In time the dry crusty area will come off. Dettol is best as it is an oily disinfectant to prevent infection, while the oil kills the mites and softens the dry tissue so it can fall off in time.

The only way to prevent mites from re-occurring if they do, is to disinfect the entire cage, food utensils, toys, etc. If more than one bird is present you must treat them all even if only one seems affected. Some pet shops carry items you can hang in the cage that is supposed to get rid of mites but we have never tried these and doubt their effectiveness. Dettol is also a good disinfectant to clean the cage and dishes. Perches and toys should be boiled or soaked in bleach and rinsed clean with fresh water and let dry before placing back in cage.

Scaly Leg or Tassel Foot
Scaly leg is caused by mites and the skin protrusions and large scales are the end result. The skin growth is usually from a prolonged or after affect of the mites even after they may have disappeared. The protrusions may be caused by the mites damaging the circulation of the leg causing the abnormal skin growth. You may only seed dry flaky scales on the skin or tiny red spots where the mites are burrowing into the fleshy skin. The scales are the residue of the mites burrowing. Long tassel-like projections are found growing from the foot of infected canaries. In the budgie, rough pale-colored crusts are seen on the feet, as well as on the face.

Treatment for scaly leg is the same as scaly face above. You can use Dettol disinfectant, mineral oil, baby oil, Ivermectin or an acaricide (mite control) purchased from a vet or pet store.

Scaly leg or Tassle Foot on a Canary showing the abnormal skin growth.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca


H&D Budgerigar Society Inc. 1996