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Pet Birds

Pest Control and Pet Birds

Anyone who owns or cares for exotic birds, pet birds knows the possible hazards that can harm their pets.  In many ways, birds are far more sensitive to various chemicals and substances than other animals.  Many different items can be hazardous to the health of birds.  This article will deal with pest control measures and integrated pest management procedures in homes where birds are kept as pets as well as in aviaries where many birds of all ages are raised or housed.

This article is basically divided into two sections: pest control and pest prevention.  Both should include an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to controlling pests and preventing future infestations.  Specific pests (both household and bird specific parasitic varieties) will be discussed.  Pests can include roaches, moths and rodents found in the building and also mites that attack birds.
Our main goal is to safely keep birds in a pest free environment. 

Mites That Attack Birds       Roach or Moth Problems      Insect Pest Prevention, Rodent Prevention    

Mites That Attack Birds

If you have problem with mites that are a pest to family members, go to the Biting Mites information page.  These particular mites are usually introduced into a home from wildlife on or around the property and are pests of people.  There are mites that can find there way into your home but these should be handled in a different manner - preventative measures on and around the exterior of the structure to keep them from entering.  These measures include sanitation and (in some cases) spraying shrubs and other vegetation in close proximity to the home.
Too many cases are attributed to mites which are not mites at all.  Know the health and habits of your pet.  Education is a fantastic weapon!

Roach, Moth Control and Bird Cages

Existing Infestations    Pest Prevention Measures 

Measures for controlling existing infestations of roaches (or grain moths and other pests) as well as rodents (rats, mice) will many times over-lap the same measures used to prevent the same pests.

Pest Prevention Measures for Insects, Rodents 

Roaches, grain moths, rats and mice are often attracted to the same materials: small animals, birds, moisture, fecal matter, grains and an easily accessible water supply.  Pet shops, aviaries, veterinarian offices and homes with pets usually provide all of these attractive materials.
When controlling any indoor pest, the following questions should be asked:

  • Where do the pests come from, how do they gain entrance to the area?
  • What are the food sources that attract and sustain the populations?
  • What conditions encourage their existence and growth?

Knowing the answers to these questions will go a long way in limiting the pests in your home or business.  In some cases, eliminating the food source (and other conditions that encourage pests) is almost impossible.  Grains (such as those used in pet foods, bird feed) are attractive to pests.  Eliminating these grains entirely is a ridiculous idea but limiting access to the grains is a great help.
Feed should be purchased from a dealer that cares about the quality of the grains.  Quality includes trying as hard as possible to limit roaches, moths, weevils, etc. from infesting the food.  Keeping such materials 100% free of pests is not possible but if the dealer clearly does not make constant efforts to control the bugs, find another dealer.
Owners of pet birds usually prefer to purchase special bird food mixes in bulk.  The drawback to this is that the more bird food that is purchased and stored, the more inviting the grains are to insects and rodents.  There are two measures that will help keep down roaches, weevils and grain moths: keep grains in a freezer until a day or so before needed and keep unfrozen grains in an air-tight container.  These two measures will also severely limit a rodent's access to the food.
Enough cannot be said about sanitation in and around bird cages.  Daily cleaning is a must.  Otherwise you are begging for a roach infestation and stubborn populations of rats or mice.
Even with the best sanitation procedures, pest problems do occur.  A great pest management tool is the use of sticky traps which capture, monitor and help control roaches, moths and even small rodents.  Be careful when placing sticky pads in rooms where birds are allowed to roam.  A good way to monitor (or control) many pests near bird cages is to combine mouse glue boards and rat bait stations.  Glue boards should be hidden inside of rat bait stations to keep birds safe from the sticky glue.  The bait stations should then be placed on the floor (next to walls) where pests are known or suspected of traveling.  Glue boards are not expensive and can be replaced easily.  These glue traps will capture bugs before they can reproduce and before they gain access to your birds' food.  Pest control technicians often use glue boards to monitor populations of different pests.  The special design of bait stations allow easy access for insects and rodents but will prevent pets from coming into contact with the glue strips.  The use of grain moth traps will help prevent major outbreaks of these moth pests.  Never use too many moth traps at a time in a single room!  Excessive pheromones released in an area will only serve to excite and confuse moths.  In this state, moths are unable to locate the source of the lure (your traps) and few (if any) pests will be captured.  Using moth traps in preventative programs will alert you to any possible grains that have been recently introduced into the environment that are moth infested.

Existing Infestations of Insect Pests and Rodents 

Grain Moths    Cockroaches    Rodents 

Grain Moths

The best way to control, eliminate or prevent grain moths (sometimes known as flour moths) in areas where birds or bird food are kept is to use pesticide free pheromone moth traps.  Do not use just any kind of moth trap.  The pheromones used to lure and capture clothes moths are entirely different from those used in grain moth control.  Use traps that are designed for capturing grain or flour moths; generic attractants that claim to help capture several different pests (beetles, moths, etc.) do not work nearly as well as do traps designed specifically for grain moths.
As mentioned earlier, it is best to use the correct number of traps for a given area.  When multiple traps are set out in a room, the powerful moth pheromones can overwhelm existing moths.  The moths must have a clear, single signal to follow, other wise they will just fly around in a confused state, unable to locate your trap.

Cockroaches

Birds should never be exposed to airborne particles, especially insecticides.  Their delicate lungs cannot tolerate particles that are normally dealt with by human lungs and respiratory system.  Tiny droplets (airborne particles) are not only inhaled but also contaminate foods and water dishes.  Many household pests can be controlled with the use of pheromone traps for cockroaches, roach baits or sticky traps.  Roaches can be controlled with the use of carefully placed roach baits.  Roach bait stations can be used; roach bait gels will usually work better and are generally safer for birds.  Avert and Maxforce are roach baits in gel formulations that can carefully be placed for roach control.  Bait should be placed in areas where roaches are most likely to find the bait but not in areas where birds can come into contact with the bait.  These areas will vary with each situation - some birds are allowed to roam and play while others spend most of their lives in cages only.
Suggested areas to bait for roaches include rooms or cabinets where bird food is stored, behind light-switch covers and electrical outlets, in cracks, crevices and seams around windows and doors.  When dealing with very smart or inquisitive birds, it is best to place baits or sticky traps when the birds cannot see what you are doing.  Smart, inquisitive birds are much like children - they will want to investigate anything they see you do.  These and other pest control measures are best done when birds are asleep or at least when their cages are placed in another room or when cages are covered.

 Rodents    Baits    Traps

It is often difficult to get rats and mice to accept rodenticides due to the bird food that is readily available to them.  Rodenticides (rat and mouse baits) can also be carried by rodents.  While being carried they will many times drop pieces of the baiting material in reach of pets.  For these two main reasons, the use of rodenticides is discouraged when rodents become a problem in areas where birds and other pets are kept.  If rodent baits are used anyway, keep the following in mind:
Baits should not be used in a way that will allow pets to come into contact with baits.  For this reason, baits should only be used in other rooms where there are no pets but where rodents are know to travel as they forage for food.  Place Contrac bait blocks on safety rods found in Protecta bait stations.  This will encourage the mice or rats to eat the rodenticide while still in the stations instead of carrying the bait elsewhere.

The use of rodent traps is usually a better method of control than baits, when dealing with rodents in areas close to birds.  When placed correctly, the traps will not be a danger to birds.  If your birds are allowed to roam outside of their cages, traps must be placed so that the birds are still safe.
Many times people will attempt to place traps during the night and pick them back up during the day when their birds are not in their cages.  This might work for mice but not for rats.  Mice are inquisitive but rats are usually afraid of new things in their territory.  Moving rat traps every day will discourage rats (and sometimes mice) from getting close to the trap.
An excellent way to capture rodents is to place a T-Rex Trap inside of a Protecta Rat Bait Station.  The T-Rex was designed to fit perfectly inside of the Protecta.  T-Rex traps will kill rats or mice and are easy to set.  In areas where bird feed is present, mix bird feed with a little peanut butter and use this mixture as the lure or bait for your rodent trap.  Be patient.  It might take some time for the rodents to try your bait.  After all, they already have access to their favorite food: grains.
Pet stores and large aviaries have had success keeping down rodent populations by using a combination of glue traps, rodenticides and bait stations.  The bait stations are placed around the exterior of the building.  A constant supply of fresh bait will keep down the number of rats that might enter the buildings.  Check and replenish (if necessary) the rodenticide on a weekly schedule.
Placing several glue traps indoors will help trap rats and mice before they get to the bird cages.  Glue traps are excellent for capturing mice.  You might have success using them with rats.  If not, switch to a fast kill trap such as the T-Rex.

Related Information:
Rodents    Rodenticides   German Cockroach   Glue Traps   Pest Control Information   Pest Control Supplies   Household Pests   Nuisance Bird Control