Amoebotaenia genus are a type of tapeworms, which act as an internal parasite. A. cuneata is the most commonly reported species that affects chickens. A. cuneata is short (less than 3 mm (0.11 in) in length), flattened, segmented, ribbon-shaped worm that invades the villi of the duodenum of the chicken's intestines.
A. cuneata has an indirect life cycle, using earthworms as intermediate hosts. Infected chickens shed A. cuneata eggs in their feces, contaminating the environment. Earthworms and other chickens may accidentally consume these eggs by eating or pecking at items near the contaminated eggs. Once ingested, the eggs are released and migrate to the bird's small intestines where they live, feed off of, and reproduce to make eggs that again get shed into the feces of the bird, contaminating the environment and infecting more birds.