Can Birds Get Fleas?

Fleas are little bitting buggers that love furry animals, particularly cats, dogs, and kittens. They live by biting, sucking, and ingesting the blood of their hosts. Little vampires. Furry animals get fleas, but what about our feathered friends?

Can birds get fleas?

Yes, fleas will infest birds, though it doesn’t happen very often. Here are the basics:

  • Both wild and pet birds can carry fleas.
  • Birds have coping mechanisms to control the infestation.
  • Young birds infested with fleas can suffer serious health problems.

To curb an infestation in time, you should know how to recognize the signs of birds carrying fleas. This article will give you a good insight into how to tell if your pet bird has fleas.

We will also talk about how to check your bird for fleas, and if Polly’s got ’em, how to get rid of them.

Can Birds Get Fleas?

Although it’s rare, birds can indeed get fleas, and the sticktight flea is the most predominant species of flea found on birds.

Fleas and other parasites enjoy having birds as their hosts, as birds can transport them over long distances. This allows the flea population to grow rapidly over a large area.

However, fleas don’t stay on a bird’s body as long as they would on the body of other animals. A bird’s body temperature is usually between 100°F to 110°F, higher than most mammals.

Plus, they don’t have fur!

A bird’s body is not an ideal place for fleas to stay for extended periods. However, the presence of feathers may cause fleas to stay for a while, as they can hide and reproduce in the feathers.

How to Tell if Your Bird Has Fleas

A flea infestation in one bird can quickly spread to others, which quickly becomes a nightmare. So learning to spot the signs of fleas in your birds can help you take action quickly to get the situation under control.

Here are some of the common symptoms you should look out for:

1. Restlessness

With fleas taking residence on the body, you can hardly expect a flea-infested bird to be comfortable. The bites from fleas tend to irritate birds and may cause them to appear restless and uncomfortable.

They may even flap their wings frantically and be unable to rest during their normal sleeping hours.

2. Excessive Preening

Preening is a maintenance behavior in birds that involves using the beak to position feathers, clean plumage, interlock separated feather barbules, and keep ectoparasites in check.

A bird infested with fleas will constantly be preening in an attempt to eliminate the parasites. Excessive preening might be a sign that your bird friend has fleas or other parasites, and is doing its best to get rid of them.

 A bird bitten by fleas will constantly be preening.

3. Noticeable Skin Redness and Irritation

When infested by fleas, birds may excessively scratch their bodies. Consequently, there may be visible skin irritations, such as scabs and open wounds. 

Flea bites can also directly cause the bird’s skin to turn red due to an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva.

The skin may seem raw and inflamed or pinker than usual.

4. Scratching

Your bird continuously scratching itself even after preening could signify that they’re trying to get rid of parasites in its feathers. You may see your bird trying to use its feet to scratch its head and neck.

They may even shake their head vigorously, which is a sign of discomfort.

5. Visible Detection

You may examine your bird for fleas if you suspect a flea infestation. Although some parasites are too small to be seen without a microscope or magnifying lens, fleas are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. They are about the same size as a fruit fly and often get confused for fruit flies (but of course, fruit flies don’t infest birds!)

A thorough inspection under a strong, bright light will reveal the parasites. 

6. Damaged Feathers

In severe cases of flea infestation, the parasites may damage your bird’s feathers. The feathers may look ragged, damaged, or less shiny than normal.

How to Check for Fleas on Your Bird

Although fleas can be seen with the naked eye, they can be difficult to spot, as a typical adult flea is 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long.

They are tiny and usually hide in between feathers. However, fleas are still visible once you thoroughly inspect the bird’s body. 

The sticktight flea is about half the size of the common flea found on cats. When inspecting, ensure you pay close attention to the bird’s body.

There are two common areas where fleas are found on birds: under their wings and around their legs, feet, and toes.

The sticktight flea is the most predominant species of flea found in birds.

1. Under the Wings

A common spot where bird fleas are found is beneath your bird’s wings. If you see small spots near each feather’s base, that could be a sign that your bird has fleas or some other parasites. 

2. Legs, Feet, and Toes

While inspecting your bird for fleas, you should check the areas around your bird’s feet and toes. Check out the bottom part of their foot and the higher areas of their legs. You may also see tiny black dots between the pads of the toes.

The dots typically look like little bumps and could be parasite eggs.

How to Treat Birds That Have Fleas 

There are several flea treatments available, but most bird species are sensitive to the different chemicals used in these treatments. Consequently, the best action to take when your bird has fleas is to go to the vet.

A vet will recommend the best treatment and course of action. There are a few treatments that are safe for pet birds, such as parrots.

A vet will recommend the best treatment and course of action. There are a few treatments that are safe for pet birds, such as parrots.

Besides treating your bird, it’s crucial to treat their cage and toys to ensure you eliminate the entirety of the flea infestation along with their eggs. Common flea treatments will not affect the eggs, so you may want to seek the help of a professional in taking care of the problem and eliminating their breeding ground.

Diatomaceous earth has been proven to kill fleas effectively. Sprinkle the bottom of the cage with diatomaceous earth if your bird lives in a large aviary. Fleas have exoskeletons, and diatomaceous earth works by drying out their skeletons.

This treatment method works best against adult fleas.


Although fleas are not a common threat to birds, they will occasionally set up a home on your poor bird. And when they do, the consequences can be significant. If you suspect your bird has fleas, do a thorough check for confirmation.

Mites and lice are more common in birds, and you may find them instead of fleas.

Regardless of the type of parasite you find, safely treat your bird, and seek professional help when you need it.