While ticks are not such a huge problem within the UK as they are in some other countries, ticks are still rife across large parts of our countryside, and at some times of the year, are more prolific than others. Most people who own a pet that goes outside, such as a cat or a dog, will have seen a tick on their pet at some point, and had to remove it, or taken them along to the vet for removal.
Ticks are understandably unattractive for a whole host of reasons; they look horrible, they can spread diseases, and they are parasites that latch onto the skin to feed. That being said, they are also rather interesting, if you can stomach finding out more about them!
In this article, we will cover 25 interesting facts about ticks, both to inform and to give you an insight into their behaviour and presence that may help to keep your own pets safe. Read on to learn more!
- Ticks are a type of arachnid, having eight legs if you look closely! While people often think of them as insects or bugs, they are actually more closely related to scorpions and spiders, which are also arachnids, than they are to true insects.
- All ticks go through four distinct life stages: They begin as eggs, then progress to the infant stage as larvae, then when immature, are known as nymphs. The adult, mature tick is the final stage of the lifecycle.
- A tick that has free access to food and does not become hurt or injured may live for as long as three years! However, most ticks live for just a few weeks, and they cannot survive for very long without a source of food.
- There are over 850 different species of ticks, some of which can only be found in certain areas of the world.
- Many ticks transmit various forms of diseases and illnesses that are native to their locales; in the UK, Lyme disease is considered to be the greatest threat that can be transmitted by ticks, but various other nasty conditions including Colorado tick fever and Ehrlichia can also be transmitted by ticks in some other parts of the world.
- One tick species that we do not have over here in the UK, the Australian paralysis tick, is actually venomous, and can cause paralysis in their hosts!
- Ticks feed and survive by latching onto their host, piercing the skin and feeding on their blood, before dropping away when full.
- Ticks are very opportunistic, and will latch onto all manner of hosts, including cats, dogs, people, reptiles, birds, and wild animals.
- Ticks can range in size from small specks about the size of a pin head, up to around the size of a fingernail when fully engorged with blood.
- Dogs are more likely to pick up an infestation of ticks than cats are.
- Ticks are not generally born carrying diseases; they become carriers for them by picking them up from the areas that they live in, or by feeding on a host and then passing it on to the next host.
- Animals may catch more than one disease or condition from just one tick bite.
- Ticks cannot fly or jump; they latch onto their hosts by crawling up grass and undergrowth, where they wait for a passing host.
- In some tick species, their saliva acts as a sort of glue to affix the tick in place while they attach to the skin to feed.
- Using a spot-on flea treatment that also states that it is effective against ticks can help to prevent your pet from becoming the host to a tick in the first place.
- As ticks are rather nasty, disease-carrying agents, you should always wear gloves when dealing with one or removing one from your pet.
- If your pet picks up a tick, you can just pop them along to the vets, where a veterinary nurse will remove the tick quickly and easily for a minimal fee.
- It is entirely possible to remove ticks safely at home too, and every pet owner who lives in an area prone to ticks should learn how to do this properly!
- You can buy a special tool called a tick twister, which helps you twist a tick out of the skin without breaking off the head.
- While ticks can and do spread disease, most pets that pick up a tick will not become ill from it, and your pet may have picked up ticks that later detached with no ill effects without you even realising it!
- Ticks detect hosts by sensing their breathing, body odours and heat.
- Ticks wait for a passing meal by a process called “questing,” during which they wait in the undergrowth holding their first pair of legs stretched out to latch onto their host.
- Feeding from a host can take between ten minutes and a couple of hours, depending on the size of the tick.
- It is thought that ticks evolved as long ago as 120 million years.
- Wild animals such as hedgehogs and foxes are often covered with ticks!