Protecting parrots against a parasitic killer

By Connie Orcutt • Published: April 1st, 2017
Category: Animal Airwaves

If you have one parrot or a flock, you need to know about a parasite that could be deadly to your feathered friends.

Sarcocystis [sar-koh-CIST-is] falcatula [fal-cah-TOO-la] thrives in warm humid areas of North America where it uses opossums, certain native birds and cockroaches to survive. When an infected bird is eaten by an opossum, the parasites reproduce in its digestive tract and pass in its droppings. If a cockroach passes by, it picks up the parasites and passes them on to another bird.

Native birds tolerate Sarcocystis. But in species hailing from Africa, Asia or Australia—like parakeets, African greys and many more—infection causes lung damage and often sudden death.

So, keep opossums away from outdoor aviaries. And consider removing food and water from cages at night to keep insects at bay. Ask your avian veterinarian about other means of prevention.