Looking more like something from the Australian jungle, than anything you’d expect to see in Britain’s parks and woodland, the Tick is certainly no oil painting. And when you learn about its habits and how it changes in appearance, you’ll be even less enamoured with the little fella.
Like most parasites, it’s really small but perfectly formed for its purpose. A poppy seed sized dot on your fingernail, before it’s had it’s feed of course. Ticks are the closest thing you’ll find to vampires, they attach themselves to the host animal (this includes humans) and will feed for up to 7 days before dropping off.
They love wet undergrowth and live in the leaves on a woodland floor until they are large enough to climb higher and attach themselves to the next animal that walks by. As you can see, their appearance after they’ve filled with blood is pretty gruesome.
Ticks are related to spiders, and when they are young will look like pale versions of their cousins, only distinguishable by their six legs instead of eight. The most common Tick in the UK is the Sheep Tick, but don’t be deceived by it’s name. It will feed on all mammals and birds it can get close to. Less common are the Hedgehog Tick and Fox or Badger Tick.
Ticks live all around the world, so it’s no surprise that new species have been brought in to the country following the increase of pets travelling abroad. The Brown Dog Tick came to Britain from other parts of Europe and can survive in the home, unlike ticks native to the UK.
So why do we need to keep an eye out for Ticks on our cats and dogs? The main reason is that they carry multiple diseases. If they feed from a mouse, for example, then it moves on to your cat, any disease the host mouse had is also passed to your pet. Ticks in the UK can carry Lyme disease, which is a potentially deadly bacteria-led disease that affects nerves and muscles in animals and humans.
Tick bites are painless, and you’ll probably only notice them on your pet when they have grown in size. It’s important to remove them properly, as if you squash them or don’t remove their body from the skin, the risk of infection increases. Ask your vet or find online a Tick removal tool, which will ensure you get all of the pest out of the skin.
To ensure your dog or cat is safe all year round, give them monthly spot-on flea and tick protection. It kills Fleas and Ticks as soon as they come into contact with the skin and blood, helping reduce the chances of Tick-borne diseases harming both your pet and your family.