I Want My Free E-Book On Egg Laying Chickens

Quail Lice: Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment

how to treat quail lice

When it comes to raising quails, lice prove to be a nuisance that worsens if left untreated. Lice in quails are one of the most common parasites that can pose harm to your quails.

You should be knowledgeable of the right quail lice treatment to perform in case your coop ever got infested.

Most importantly, you also should know how to prevent lice from getting into your areas.

So, if you are new to raising quails and plan to prevent any lice infestation, this guide is for you!

In this article, we will talk about what causes lice infestation, how to treat lice in quail, as well as preventing it. Read to learn more about them now!

inflamed quail from lice

Quail Lice: What Causes It?

Quail lice don’t spawn out of thin air.

Many surrounding factors can cause lice in quails. But for the most part, a lice infestation depends on your quail’s environment.

Understanding where quails get lice is important in dealing with lice infestation.

Since you know the source of these parasites, you can prepare preventive countermeasures that stop any lice infestation in your quails.

So what causes lice in quails?

Dirty Coop

What happens when your quail coop is dirty?

Unlike clean coops, a dirty coop is an uncontrolled environment that breeds risks to your quails.

Dirty coops may have a lot of hazardous materials exposed that can outright cause harm to the birds. It can also house some of the nastiest disease-causing microbes that make your quails sick.

While the environment is not a favorable living condition for your birds, it certainly is the perfect breeding condition for pathogens.

Among these harmful microbes that can nest in a neglected quail coop are lice. These lice can easily hop from one host to another, especially in uncontrolled environments.

Infected Poultry Bird

Your quail will get lice from an already infected bird. Lice are fast creatures that can transfer from one poultry bird to another.

This kind of infection typically happens when you bring new birds into your coop without quarantining them first. Without the isolation, the new quail may spread its already-existing diseases to your quail flocks.

Lice’s infection rate also increases when there’s not enough space for quails to move around. Since quails love to flock together, lice can spread at a lightning speed if there’s no adequate space between each other.

Additionally, other poultry birds, like chickens, can cross-contaminate your quails when they’re both raised together.

Chickens are good vectors of poultry diseases even without the lice harming and feeding off from them.

Wild Birds and Creatures

Nothing beats wild creatures when it comes to carriers of diseases. Because wild birds are untreated with care and medications, they are perfect vessels for parasitic lice.

Even the slightest interaction of wild birds passing by the coop can risk transmitting lice to your unsuspecting quails.

They can also contaminate the sterile area you created for your poultry birds.

sick quail chick

Signs of Quail Lice Infestation

Quail lice infestation is definitely a huge bother both for you and your quails. But lucky for you, infestations of lice in quails are easy to spot.

Symptoms will show in the bird’s physique, and your quails may exhibit erratic behaviors as they suffer from their parasite.

So what are these lice infestation signs that you need to look out for?


Quails are quirky animals that can run 12 miles per hour. They’re extremely agile on foot and are difficult to chase or catch.

So if your quails feel passive or if they’re moving sluggishly, you bet that they’re suffering from a certain illness.

But don’t immediately conclude to lice infection yet!

Fatigue is a common symptom of almost any quail illness. Look for more signs of lice infestation on your quails first.

Limp Wings

Droopy wings among birds are their way of saying that they feel hot. It’s their adaptive response to try and cool themselves off.

That is why birds like quails will have droopy wings on most summer days.

But birds can also have limp wings when they’re ill. It is also an indication of a wing injury.

Like fatigue, droopy wings that appear limp are common symptoms across most quail diseases.

In cases of lice infection, however, quails have limp wings because most lice thrive and cause damage to their wings.


Paleness is another useful sign that can point to lice infection. It’s also a symptom that helps narrow down to lice.

Quails going pale are common during lice attacks on them. This is because quail lice suck blood from their bird host as their feeding means.

Dirty Vent

A vent is a bird’s butt opening where its fecal excretes and eggs come out.

Ideally, you want a dirt-free-looking quail vent.

If its vent has some speckles of white debris, particles, or dirt on it, it’s a telling sign of a lice infestation. Those can be lice eggs around the hole.

You can also tell a lice attack when the vent appears inflamed or discolored. These are signs of irritation from parasitic attacks.

Reduced Egg Production

Sick quails produce fewer eggs as they succumb to the stress of their disease.

If you’ve observed a significant decrease in egg production, you best don’t neglect this sign of distress.

This may be a common symptom of most illnesses, but lice infections can also be the cause of this decline.

Feather Loss and Balding

The most lice-specific symptom of their infestation is if your quail is losing feathers.

Feather loss is an immediate response to skin irritations. These skin irritations can come from skin infections, wounds, bites, and external parasitic infestations like lice and quail mites.

Loss of feathers can also happen on a specific spot only, which causes an area-specific balding. More often than not, external parasites like ticks, mites, and lice are the main culprits for your quails’ baldness.

Feather loss can also be the indirect effect of birds on stressed conditions. This is synonymous with hair loss in humans when they get old, weak, or sick.

Do take note, however, that birds will intentionally shed feathers during specific periods of the year. In their feather-shedding process called molting, birds intentionally lose their tattered feathers to regrow new ones.

Quail molting starts in early June or July, after their breeding season. They only molt once, so don’t mistake this shedding process for an actual skin symptom.

Visible Lice

What’s a better sign of lice infection than the culprits themselves?

Quail lice can be extremely small and sometimes invisible to the naked eye.

But if the infection is chronic enough, your quail will have larger lice on its feathers that you can finally see.

diseases from lice

What are Quail Lice-Related Diseases?

Lice are bringers of diseases to quails. If you also know the diseases that lice can cause, you can prepare a treatment for its symptoms.

So what are these diseases that lice can inflict on their quail host?


Yes, scabies happens in birds too. Scabies is a disease that’s closely associated with mites, ticks, and, most especially, lice.

It’s a skin infection that occurs when lice burrow into the skin of their host, which causes extreme itchiness and irritation. Your quails’ immune system also activates, making the area swollen, red, and painful.

Because scabies is itchy, quails tend to scratch the area of infection. It can wound the area, opening it to even more infections.


Lice feed on the bodily fluids of the hosts, including blood. Because quails are small poultry animals, a chronic lice infestation on them can immediately make the bird anemic.

Anemic quails usually have low blood count and energy levels. They will struggle to carry out even the simplest body functions, such as eating, moving, and even breathing.

Eventually, anemic quails get weaker if there’s no immediate treatment acted for lice infestation. Severe cases of anemia can put the quail to imminent death if still left untreated.

Microbial Infection

Lice feed on the bodily fluids of the hosts, including blood. Because quails are small poultry animals, a chronic lice infestation on them can immediately make the bird anemic.

Anemic quails usually have low blood count and energy levels. They will struggle to carry out body functions such as eating, moving, and even breathing.

Eventually, anemic quails get weaker if there’s no immediate treatment acted for lice infestation. Severe cases of anemia can put the quail to imminent death if still left untreated.

how to treat quail lice

How Do You Treat Quail for Lice?

After knowing how to detect signs of lice infestation in your quail coop, it’s time that you should learn how to deal with them.

After seeing the earliest signs of lice infections on quails, you should spring yourself into action and treat them fast.

If you wait for the situation to worsen, you are putting your quails at a larger risk. Sometimes these health risks are dangerous and can have devastating effects on them, if not kill them.

So what are the ways of treating lice in quails? Below are some of the effective ways of dealing with quail lice.

Ivermectin Solutions against Quail Lice

One fast solution to the harmful lice infestation is to use drugs and formulations to treat your quail birds.

Ivermectin is a strong anti-parasitic drug that deals with internal and external parasites. While we use Ivermectin to deworm our bodies, it’s also an effective way of treating poultry lice in quails.

Poultry owners often use it on their birds because of its quick effect on the lice. However, the use of Ivermectin is off-label and not officially approved by various bodies of veterinary groups.

Currently, Ivermectin solutions for poultry animals come in three ways to administer it to your quails. But if you want to use Ivermectin as a quail lice treatment, you need its pour-on form applied externally.

To apply Ivermectin to your quails:

  • Spread your quail’s feathers on their neck apart
  • Apply the number of drops prescribed in the package directly on their skin
  • Repeat the application after seven to ten days when the lice eggs hatch into larvae.

Generally, the package instructions will advise you to use 2 to 3 eye drops per bird. A more specific and strict amount calls for 0.2 mg of the solution per kilogram of the quail’s body weight.

A veterinarian should also supervise the whole process of applying Ivermectin.

Additionally, there is a withdrawal period after you use Ivermectin on your quails. Withdrawal periods take seven days for quail eggs and 10 to 20 days of withdrawal period on their meat.

Permethrin Solution against Quail Lice

Another chemical treatment available in the market that can deal with lice in quails is the use of Permethrin.

Permethrin is an insecticide that’s potent against lice and quail mites but safe for poultry and humans. It’s a low-toxicity insecticide found in head lice shampoos, creams, and even lotions.

In poultry use, however, Permethrin comes as a solution that poultry owners should dilute in water.

To use Permethrin:

  • Dilute the insecticide solution in water according to its package instructions
  • Place the diluted solution in a spray bottle
  • Find the quail’s vent and do two to three sprays on it
  • Make two to three sprays of the insecticide under both the chicken’s wings
  • Spread the feathers on your chicken’s neck and make two to three sprays on it

Package instructions will dictate that you mix the 10% of 4 fl oz insecticide solution with ten gallons of water. You should also seek a veterinarian for further assistance with the concentration.

Permethrin can be a better option than Ivermectin as it requires no withdrawal periods at all.

Diatomaceous Earth against Quail Lice

Using chemical formulations like Ivermectin and Permethrin is generally safe in treating lice in quails. Its downside, however, of using these solutions is that they can be potent on quails when used at a larger dosage.

For a more natural treatment for lice, you can use diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is crushed and pulverized diatom. This DE dehydrates the lice—essentially killing them.

To use diatomaceous earth, you should:

  • Make a dust bath for your quails if you don’t have one yet
  • Sprinkle a handful of DE on the dust bath
  • Let your quails dust themselves
  • Repeat this process every 7 to 10 days until the quails recover

When using diatomaceous earth to dust your poultry birds, you should always buy the food grade of the product.

Regular diatomaceous earth contains more harmful heavy metals that you may come into contact with when used.

You should never sprinkle DE directly on your poultry birds as well.

DE has abrasive elements that make your quail’s skin dry and irritated. Besides irritating the skin even more, they can also cause respiratory disease when inhaled by quails.

This is why we recommend using one-fourth cup of DE on top of three gallons worth of dust bath particles.

Water Bath against Quail Lice

When your quails have dust baths in place, traditional water baths become unnecessary. Poultry owners will only choose water baths when in well-watered areas and locations.

But during lice infestation, you can consider bathing your birds with water as a means of a quail lice treatment.

Water baths are generally important for most birds because they clean both their skins and feathers. You are basically washing them as you remove dirt, degrees, and external parasites like quail mites and lice on them.

On top of that, the touch of water is simply refreshing to an irritated bird’s skin. They usually may not like plunging in water, but they’ll thank you for treating their skin.

To bath quails in water:

  • Get a container and fill it with lukewarm water
  • Dilute a quail-formulated shampoo on the water
  • Hold firm your quail to prevent it from escaping
  • Slowly submerge your quail’s body in the water except for its head.
  • Stroke and caress their feathers as if you’re washing hair.
  • After washing, remove the soapy water and replace it with fresh water to rinse them
  • Pat their bodies dry with a towel

If the towel doesn’t fully absorb the wetness of the quail, you can dry them using a low-setting hair blower.

Adding Iron to the Diet

Quail mites and lice feed on their host’s blood to thrive. A severe case of lice infestation can make your bird anemic and pale.

To combat your birds’ anemia, you can increase their vitamin K and iron intake. These can be found in foods like spinach, beets, livers, and kale.

You can also start adding protein to their diet as it helps with the bird’s recovery and development.

how to prevent lice

How to Prevent Lice in Quails

Quail lice treatment is a daunting task once these parasites strike your coop.

But since you know the sources of these lice, you can also prevent an infestation before they even happen.

You can do that by setting up preventive measures around and within your quail coop.

Below are some of the ways to prevent lice in quails.

Cleaning the Coop to Prevent

Clean coops are lice-free coops.

A dirty coop produces a living condition that invites microbes and parasites. This is because there’s no sterilization in dirty coops, and they’ll be contaminated with various pathogens.

Listed below is a checklist on how to clean your quail coop. Before you start cleaning the coop, you should:

  • Temporarily relocate your quails away from their coops
  • Get all uncollected eggs, if there are any

Freeing your coop from particles and debris is the first step in cleaning the coop. As such, you should:

  • Sweep all of the quail feathers lying on the floor
  • Scrape the bird droppings
  • Remove extra food from the food box
  • Dust all of the dirt and debris in your coop
  • Clear all standing water
  • Replace your quail’s nesting materials

The cleaning process of your coop will require you to exert manual labor.

Here are some of the manual tasks that you need to fulfill when it comes to cleaning:

  • Using a hose, you can dose your quail coop with water to further remove the debris inside the coop
  • With feather dust, sweep the dust and cobwebs off the coop’s ceilings and hard-to-reach areas
  • Use a mop soaked with diluted bleach to disinfect the floor of your coop

Applying Vet-Approved Pesticide

You can further make your coop free from lice with the use of an insecticide.

Among the available types of products in the market, veterinarians will vouch for the use of permethrin in insecticide applications. This is because permethrin has low toxicity in poultry birds like chickens and quails.

To apply permethrin in your quail coop:

  • Dilute the insecticide solution in water according to its package instructions
  • Place the diluted solution in a spray canister
  • Do an effective spray on the coop’s floor, entrance, walls, and nesting spots

You can also contact a pest control firm to let them do the work professionally.

Quarantine New Birds

Since new birds can introduce diseases to your quail flock, you now know better to isolate the new birds first.

Quarantining your birds assesses them first and tries to diagnose potential diseases that cause an outbreak in your poultry birds. In other words, bird quarantining helps detect diseases before they can wreak havoc on your coop.

Without this procedure, you risk bringing parasitic diseases through the new birds you’ve just introduced. You’ll soon find yourself treating all the quails in the coop instead of just a few.

To quarantine new birds, you should allocate a space for these birds that’s separate from the whole flock.

Quarantining should also come with constant monitoring and observation. This procedure should last at least one month as lice eggs take more than one week to hatch and can live for about a month.

Dust Bath

As mentioned before, a dust bath is your poultry bird’s way of cleaning themselves.

Dust bathing birds is a common practice for poultry owners and their birds in arid locations.

To birds, it’s a behavior where they splurge themselves on heaps of dirt.

To poultry owners, it’s a treatment of cleaning the birds and disinfecting them from parasites and toxic heavy metals.

Now, to make a dust bath for your quails:

  • Make a raised frame that will contain the dust bath. Used tires can also work as a container
  • Dump dry and sandy soil to fill the container
  • Sprinkle an appropriate amount of DE in the soil
  • Add some wood ash to the mixture
  • Add some sulfur dust to the mixture as well
  • Mix thoroughly to distribute the additions evenly

Separating Quails from Other Poultry and Wild Birds

Poultry lice can come from other poultry and even wild birds. An interaction or close contact with risks of transmitting the parasites to your quail flock.

Make sure that you’ve properly separated the quail flock from other birds, especially the wild ones.

Removing the extra food from the quail’s food box can help deter the wild birds from wandering in the coop. It can also help to apply wire mesh on the opening of the coops.

Quail Lice: Final Thoughts

Quail lice will continue to be every poultry owner’s enemy. Without the proper treatment and prevention, your quails may suffer from lice-causing diseases.

When it comes to treating lice in quails, you have the option of using chemical products for a fast and effective solution.

Alternatively, you can use dust bathing using diatomaceous earth for a more natural approach to treating these pests.

On the other hand, you can prevent quail lice infestation by cleaning the coop, preparing a dust bath, quarantining measures for birds, and using vet-approved pesticides.

Treating poultry lice may be a cumbersome task in raising quails. But this process is certainly worth the time and effort that you put into taking good care of your quails.

Now that you know how to treat quail in lice, you can be a better poultry owner and use this knowledge to better safeguard your quails.

READ NEXT: Quail Diseases Symptoms and Treatments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *