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Do Ducks Carry Fleas?—Prevention and Solution for Ducks Fleas

Ducks fleas

Have you noticed your duck scratching excessively and feeling uneasy that it can’t eat or rest well? If you did, you may be wondering “do ducks carry fleas, mites, or other parasites?”

If you think your poor duck is suffering from fleas and you want to save your bird from this misery, you clicked the right button!

In this article, we’ll discuss if ducks can carry fleas and other parasites and share with you:

  • How fleas affect ducks and their egg production
  • Helpful ways how to treat ducks fleas and get rid of them
  • Whether fleas in ducks are harmful to humans

These parasites can take a toll on your bird’s health. So, you need to pay attention to your birds and not overlook this problem.

Without further ado, let’s dive right into the waterfowl’s world and gain insights into this itchy problem.

Do Ducks Carry Fleas infographics

Do Ducks Carry Fleas?

Yes, ducks can get fleas and carry them but their fleas may differ from those found on cats and dogs. They’re extremely small.

However, they can also jump high in the air just like those in felines and dogs.

Their fleas are usually dark brown and they feed on, you guessed it, your duck’s blood! They can survive even without food for a long time.

Their usual breeding site where you can find their eggs and young fleas are bird’s nests and cracks in walks or building floors.

You can spot them around your waterfowl’s eyes. Others like to nestle at the waterfowl’s neck and head while others hide under the wings and other parts of their body.

But there are also some types of fleas that nestle at chickens’ wattles and combs and don’t jump away.

do ducks have fleas

Can Fleas Kill Ducks?

Ducks don’t die instantly from fleas but these parasites can make your bird’s life miserable. They affect your waterfowl’s quality of life because ducks may scratch and preen themselves excessively so they’d lose a significant amount of feathers.

They’ll also struggle to eat, sleep and rest because the parasites who feast on their blood can bite them at any time.

Furthermore, these parasites can affect the duck’s productivity. Most waterfowl that suffered from fleas have decreased egg production.

Of course, infected ducks’ meat isn’t appealing so you most likely won’t use it as a table bird.

On top of that, ducks can suffer from anemia in the long run, and get sick and die. So that’s a lot of loss for you if you won’t treat your bird’s fleas immediately.

duck fleas treatment

Duck Fleas Treatment

In this section, we’ll discuss how to get rid of fleas on ducks. If you’re curious about how to treat duck fleas, this is for you.

Ducks having fleas is extremely rare but if your waterfowl happen to suffer from these parasites, you need to get rid of them quickly to provide your bird relief.

You need to provide a powder or spray that contains trichlorfon or malathion to kill the fleas.

There are lots of chemical products online. But it’s best to ask your vet first about approved brands and follow his direction closely to ensure proper treatment.

Look out for the presence of fleas and continue the treatment for two or more weeks.

do ducks get fleas

How to Prevent Ducks Fleas

As cliche as it might sound, prevention is better than cure. So to avoid flea infestation on your ducks, check their feathers, head, and neck regularly.

Then, clean the cages and runs and other areas where your bird spends most of its time. Remove the bedding and dirt and scrub all the parts of the equipment with soap and hot water.

You can also spray or paint the cage or house with a mixture of paraffin and creosote (in equal amounts) or nicotine sulfate (40%) to minimize the chance of infestation.

Ducks who live with chickens suffering from lice or flea infestation have a high chance to get infected as well. So, if you’re raising chickens and ducks at the same time, make sure to check the chickens regularly as well.

If there are any signs of mite, lice, or flea infestation in your chicken, put your ducks in a separate chicken coop or area to ensure your ducks won’t get affected.

Are Ducks Fleas Harmful to Humans?

Yes, duck fleas are harmful even to humans even though they don’t usually target humans.

However, humans can get fleas when swimming with ducks infested with these parasites as fleas can mistakenly attack them as ducks.

There’s a common problem called ‘duck fleas’ in people swimming in Lac Léman that lead to an itchy skin rash called ‘swimmers itch‘ or ‘swimmers dermatitis’.

But what are duck fleas in this area? These so-called duck fleas in humans are caused by worm-like parasites.

Their common target is ducks that live in the lake. But similar to real fleas, they mistakenly infect humans thinking they’re ducks.

The immature parasite larvae quickly penetrate the human skin which causes allergic reactions and rashes. Red spots will appear on areas they’ve penetrated.

Oftentimes, those who were previously exposed to swimmers’ itch can develop a more severe rash the next time they get exposed to duck fleas.

Ducks Fleas Treatment for Humans

The parasite larvae die when they enter the human skin and the rash will disappear of its own accord. However, it may take 10 to 20 days before they disappear completely.

A few patches may not need any treatment. However, if the itching is intense, then you may need a soothing lotion, antihistamine tablet, or liquid. A mild corticosteroid cream like 1% hydrocortisone can also be helpful.

If you develop severe rashes, you need to see your doctor since a steroid tablet may be necessary to relieve you.

You can avoid these parasites by not swimming in lakes and close to the plants and vegetation at the water’s edge where these parasites reside.

But if you already went into the water, shower as soon as you get out of it. Then, dry yourself with a towel using a brisk scrubbing motion to stop the larvae from penetrating your skin.

Other Parasites That Can Be Found In Ducks

Aside from fleas, ducks are also prone to other external parasites, especially if they’re living in unclean areas. But even waterfowls nestling at tidy coops can catch the following pests:


Lice can live in duck’s feathers and they can be unnoticeable until a large infestation occurs. This kind of parasite has a long light brown body.

If there’s a large infestation, there will be bugs through their skin or feathers and your duck will excessively preen itself and pull out its feathers.

It can also make their feathers look dull and they can die from cold if they’d lose lots of feathers.

On top of that, waterfowl’s egg production will decrease, and lose weight due to the lack of rest brought about by the infestation.


Ducks can also fall victim to mites such as:

Depluming mites

These parasites can infect chickens, ducks, and geese, and they burrow into the epidermis, at the feather shafts’ base, which causes irritation and feather loss in birds.

They’re so tiny, which is why you can hardly see them without magnification.

To get rid of these disgusting parasites, you need to apply various treatments such as sulfur baths, malathion, carbaryl dust, and ivermectin topical application if necessary.

Northern fowl mites

These ectoparasites live on the feathers and then travel to the skin surface to feed on the bird’s blood.

They’re found in 70 species of birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys. They usually hide on the vents, breasts, and legs of birds.

The Northern fowl mites can cause anemia in highly infested birds. But the good news is they can’t live on humans and you can control and get rid of them with ivermectin.

Red poultry mite

These parasites are a serious threat to ducks but most es[pecially to laying hens as they can impact birds’ productivity.

They are nocturnal parasites that hide under manures, in the roosts, and in cracks and crevices of chicken coops.

Aside from the decrease in reproductive potential and egg productivity of birds, these parasites can also cause anemia and death.

Good thing there is a revolutionary systemic treatment that can virtually eliminate these mites in production houses such as Exzolt from MSD Animal Health. 

Scaly leg mite

Scaly leg mites as its name suggests can be found in the legs and feet of ducks and cause redness, lameness, and swelling. Though it’s not prevalent in waterfowl, it can still happen and harm your ducks.

Unlike the scaly leg, other types of mites can be spotted on the head and neck of ducks. It’s easier to see them on white or light-colored waterfowls, but they’re not visible on dark-colored birds.

They can cause skin irritation, feather loss and if left untreated, death. Your waterfowl have a higher chance of getting these parasites if they’re living with your chickens.


These small, blue-to-brown-colored parasites love to bite ducks at night. This infestation can cause ducks to stop laying eggs and if left untreated, it can make your waterfowl paralyzed.

Ticks live in cracks in walls and trees and can live without feeding on birds’ blood for several years. Ducks can eat ticks though when they caught these parasites.

However, there are areas in their body that they can’t reach. Therefore, they may need your help to remove the ticks from their body.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ducks Fleas

In this section, we compiled other common questions about ducks fleas to give you more insight into these parasites.

How do you get rid of fleas on a duck?

You need a powder or spray that contain contains trichlorfon or malathion to kill fleas and get rid of them. It may take several treatments before you can eradicate them but it’s worth it because it can provide relief to your waterfowl.

Does a duck get fleas?

It rarely happens but ducks can get fleas, ticks, and other parasites. They can go unnoticeable so you need to check your waterfowl regularly to see if there’s an infestation that occurs underneath their feathers.

Can fleas kill ducks?

Young birds like chicks and ducklings are at a higher risk of getting fleas and dying from a severe infestation. But if treated early, you can save your duck’s life.

How do I know if my duck has parasites?

Look out for symptoms like excessive scratching and preening, redness, lameness, and swelling on their skin. Check their head, neck, and the rest of the body parts to see if there are any parasites nestling underneath. It’s easy to spot these pests in white or light-colored ducks but extra challenging in dark-feathered waterfowl.

Do ducks and geese have fleas?

Ducks are not a common subject to parasites like fleas and ticks but they can get these parasites if they’re living in unsanitary environments and with chickens.

Do ducks get fleas and ticks?

Yes, unfortunately, ducks can get fleas and ticks and carry these blood-feeding parasites. Their bite can cause itchiness and feather loss, and in worse cases, anemia and paralysis.

Do ducks get fleas from chickens?

Ducks can get fleas from chickens infected with these parasites. The chance of this is higher if they’re living together in one coop or house.

can ducks get fleas

Do Ducks Carry Fleas: Final Thoughts

Ducks can get fleas and they can carry them. These tiny parasites can cause scratching, swelling, and preening and annoy your duck to the core!

They can also take a toll on your bird’s health since your duck can’t rest or eat properly when the tiny fleas underneath its feathers are feasting over its blood.

And you can also expect a decrease in egg production because of flea infestation.

So, while fleas are not deadly, they can affect your bird’s quality of life and your business too. So before it gets worse, you need to stop the infestation and prevent it to reoccur.

That way, you can save a couple of bucks and enjoy seeing healthy ducks and eggs.

But waterfowl can fall victim to internal parasites too! What kind of parasites may infect your ducks and how can you treat them? Check out the article below to know how!

READ NEXT: Common Parasites in Ducks

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