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Tick Facts

Important Tick Facts You Need to Know

  • There are over 850 species of ticks, of which over a hundred are known to carry transmittable diseases.
  • Ticks are bloodsucking external parasites that feed on humans, wild and domestic mammals, livestock, birds, reptiles and other warm-blooded animals.
  • Tick saliva contains enough bacteria and protozoa to count ticks as one of the most potent disease vectors in the world.
  • Ticks are arthropods that cannot jump or fly.
  • Ticks have sharp mouthparts that are like tiny crab claws.
  • A tick will attach itself to its host by inserting its mandibles and feeding tube into the skin. Its mandibles are covered with curved teeth.
  • Ticks begin feeding by secreting a numbing chemical so the host doesn't feel their hard, stabbing mandibles pierce the skin.
  • Ticks mouthparts are barbed so the pet can't scratch or rub to dislodge the tick.
  • Deer ticks and western-blacklegged ticks can carry Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. If left untreated, Lyme disease can become fatal.
  • Ticks also can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a disease that's most prevalent in the South Atlantic and South Central United States. Rocky Mountain spotted favor is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia ricketsii. If left untreated it can become fatal.
  • Tick-borne parasitic diseases in animals include babesiosis, theileriosis, and anaplasmosis.
  • Ticks like heavily wooded regions and areas with brush or thick tall grass. Ticks thrive in moist environments.
  • Ticks use the tall grass to wait to attach to a passing host.
  • Ticks require a habitat with a very high humidity (greater than 80%), so they are seldom found living indoors.
  • Adult ticks live for several years, and in the absence of a blood meal can survive several years of starvation.
  • A hungry tick is flat, like a freckle, but it has an elastic abdomen.
  • A female tick can suck up to a hundred times its' own body weight in blood.
  • A female tick can lay about 100 eggs at a time.
  • Ticks in the nymph (baby) stages are small and difficult to detect.
  • Some species of tick stalk the host from ground level, emerging from cracks or crevices located in the woods or even inside a home or kennel, where infestations of "seed ticks" (the six-legged stage of newborn ticks) can attack in numbers of up to 30,000 at a time.
  • Weak or elderly dogs, puppies, and cats are particularly endangered and can die from anemia from a sudden influx of seed ticks.
  • Seed ticks also attack horses, cattle, moose, lions and other mammals, causing anemia, various diseases, paralysis and even death. Seed tick infestations can be difficult to detect until thousands have attached themselves to an animal and eradication can be difficult.
  • Ticks also carry St. Louis encephalitis, tick paralysis, tularemia, cytauxzoonosis, canine ehrlichiosis, hepatozoonosis, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis. Ticks also transmit human diseases including malaria and HIV/AIDS.

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