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Mites are very small (just visible without magnification) and may look like dark, moving specks. Like lice, mites are wingless, but are smaller than lice, and generally have a rounded body shape and lack any obvious body segmentation. Mites can parasitize many animal species, and have been known to bite humans, horses, and other mammals.

Some species of mites may spend their entire life on a single bird, while others may only come out at night to feed on the birds while they roost, then retreat to nearby cracks and crevices in the surrounding environment during the daytime.

The four most common mites found on chickens are:

Clinical Signs

Presence of very small, dark, moving specks on the bird
Feather loss
Pale comb/wattles
Blackened feathers
Raised scales on legs and feet
Scabbed and cracked skin near the vent
Bundles of egg on the fluff surrounding the feather shaft.


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Skin scraping


Identification of the specific mite species and treat accordingly.
IvermectinOral or injectable (200 mg/kg) used off-label is useful for scaly leg mites. Must be given monthly for at least 3 months, even if mites are no longer seen.
Topical avermectin selamectin
MoxidectinA popular topical treatment for mite infestations in Australia and Europe. Not currently available as a FDA-approved drug in the United States.
Powder and spray insecticides specifically for mites
Do not ever use carbaryl powder (Sevin dust) either on the birds or on your property.
Dawn dish soapGive them a bath



  • Remove and replace nesting material and bedding regularly. Change at least once a month.
  • Prevent wild birds from accessing chickens.
  • Quarantine new flock members before introducing them into your flock.

Scientific References

    Risk Factors

    • Access to wild birds
    • Recent introduction of a new bird into the flock.