Do Ducks Have Fleas? [Bugs on Ducks]

Fleas are not particularly common in ducks because they cannot easily penetrate through the feathers. However, they can still bite the exposed areas as long as they can get blood. Fleas can live for a long time without food, so they can survive in the duck house and bedding for long. They can also hide in any cracks and gaps on the walls and floors.

Ducks can have fleas on them. However, it is not easy for fleas to target them, especially on farms without other animals. The most common parasites on ducks are mites and lice. While these bugs may not be fatal to you, they can bring great discomfort to your duck.

The most common flea found in ducks is the sticktight flea (Echidnophaga gallinacea), followed by the European chicken flea (Ceratophyllus gallinae). Both fleas are common in subtropical, tropical, and temperate zones globally. In the US, the sticktight flea is dominant.

Adult stick flight fleas are about 1.5 to 4mm, reddish-brown to black, and wingless. They attach their heads to their host’s skin and suck their blood. The parasites can remain in that position for 19 days.

Sign of fleas on ducks

When fleas attack ducks, they prefer to feed on fleshy areas and can be found on ducks’ faces, especially around the eyes. Their bites are irritating and painful, and when a cluster of fleas forms, it can lead to swelling, weight loss, development of bullous lesions, and even death.

Ducklings are at greater risk, and flea infestations are often deadly for them. Ducks that carry fleas become restless even at night. They are always scratching or rubbing themselves against the walls or ground.

If the fleas are too much, they will move and hide under the feathers as they bite. One advantage is that ducks have heavy feathers, and sometimes, fleas do not hide in there for long.

However, ducks with lots of fleas or other bugs will lose feathers and weight significantly. This is because they will be scratching all the time, and the feathers will be plucked in the process.

How to get rid of duck fleas

It’s hard to keep adventurous animals like ducks away from bugs because they cannot be confined to a small space. However, you can do a few things to lower their risk of infection.

  1. Keep them clean: Bath the ducks regularly with fresh water.
  2. Clean their resting place: Clean out the droppings and ensure the sand is fresh without visible bugs.
  3. Immunize them: You can vaccinate your ducks against major infectious diseases.
  4. Give them clean food: Ensure the feed is fresh and clean before feeding them.

How to treat ducks with stick flight fleas

Stickflight fleas should be removed carefully by hand using tweezers, one at a time. To prevent reinfection, the bird must be treated with a pyrethroid insecticide. The environment must also be cleaned thoroughly and disinfected to eliminate the flea larvae.

All bedding such as shavings and straws should be removed entirely and replaced with new uncontaminated materials. These bedding materials should also be sprayed with an insect growth regulator. Their wounds should also be treated if the ducks had clusters of fleas.

If you take care of your ducks properly and watch their behavior, you’ll rarely see any fleas on them. Ducks do not routinely get fleas unless they are infested at another location or from other animals in the area. However, it is good to know that it can happen and prepare adequately.

Are duck fleas harmful to humans?

Lucky for us, duck fleas don’t infect humans. Instead, they focus on attacking ducks in the water. However, this doesn’t mean that humans can’t catch these parasites.

For instance, you could go for a swim with your ducks. Parasites or fleas in the water could mistake you for a duck and mistakenly attack your body. Although the odds are low, humans can catch the parasites accidentally.

However, the parasites cannot survive on humans for too long. So there’s nothing to worry about.

How do you get rid of duck fleas on your body?

Although duck fleas are not lethal to humans, they can cause great discomfort and skin marks. As a result, if you accidentally get the infection, here is what you should do:

  1. Get out of the water and shower as soon as possible (this is why many beaches have showers).
  2. Wash the fleas right off.
  3. Dry yourself with a towel using brisk rubbing motions.

Fleas Vs. mites and lice that live on ducks

The most common parasites on poultry are mites and lice, especially if the birds’ environment is not regulated or clean. Northern fowl mites are especially dangerous and can spend much time on ducks. They can last for about a week to three weeks.

Chicken mites are nocturnal, hiding during the day and attacking the bird at night. They like to hide under dirt clods and the in the coop.

Fleas Vs. mites on ducks

Infected ducks are not easy to spot by looking at them. Most of the time, they look perfectly fine. However, some symptoms can occur if the mites have been present for a while. These include:

  • Discolored feathers.
  • Scaly skin.
  • Feathers are falling out.
  • Ragged feathers.

You can check the duck’s scales and observe their pattern. It might have leg mites if they are tight and flat against the duck’s feet. The discoloration is often hard to notice if your duck is already colored. However, you can do regular checks to observe if there’s a color change.

Also, if your duck is often irritated and ruffles its feathers all day, give it a thorough check. There could be something hiding under the feathers.

Fleas vs. lice on ducks

Ducks are prone to attacks by feather lice. These are tiny parasites that invade the bird and live in its feathers.

Soon after infection, the duck becomes constantly irritated and loses appetite. Its sleep cycle is disturbed, and they don’t get enough rest. As a result, they grow weaker every day. Once they attack a duck, the lice go through their full life cycle on the animal.

Fortunately, lice from poultry don’t attack humans. They feed on poultry skin and feathers, so the most likely transfer is from ducks to chickens and vice versa. That said, it is not recommended that you make too much contact with a duck if it’s known to have lice.

Even though you might not be infected, they’re still harmful. They can cause red marks that can be itchy and annoying. So, while they may not be lethal, they could have a negative impact on your comfort and overall wellness. If the redness and itchiness persist, see a doctor and take the appropriate medication.