Knemidokoptinid (Epidermoptidae: Knemidokoptinae) mite infestation in wild red-crowned parakeets (cyanoramphus novaezelandiae): Correlations between macroscopic and microscopic findings

Bethany Jackson, Allen Heath, Cathy Harvey, Carly Holyoake, Richard Jakob-Hoff, Arvind Varsani, Ian Robertson, Kris Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


During a study on health and disease in Red-crowned Parakeets (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) on Tiritiri Matangi Island and Little Barrier Island (Hauturu-o-Toi) in New Zealand between 2011 and 2013, an outbreak of feather loss prompted the collection of skin biopsies (n5135) under anesthesia from the head of captured birds. A subset of samples (n57) was frozen to obtain whole specimens for identification of ectoparasites. Mites (range 1–11) were observed in 79/135 (58.5%) skin biopsies, whereas feather loss was only found in 47/142 (33.1%) birds captured during the sampling period. Compact orthokeratotic hyperkeratosis and acanthosis were found in association with mites. Procnemidocoptes janssensi (Acari: Epidermoptidae, Knemidokoptinae) was identified from whole mites obtained from skin biopsies. We describe the presence, pathology, and stages of infestation for knemidokoptinid mange in a wild parrot population in New Zealand. Given the clinical and pathologic changes observed and poor knowledge of the parasite’s New Zealand host and geographic distribution, further work is recommended for this and sympatric parrots, to understand relationships between the host, parasite, environment, and expression of disease. Results from this study reinforce the value of including biopsy samples for the investigation of skin disease in wild birds, particularly to link etiologic agents with pathologic changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-663
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Wildlife Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 10 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • Biopsy
  • Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae
  • Disease outbreak
  • Knemidokoptinae
  • Mange
  • Mites
  • Parrots
  • Wildlife disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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