The Animal House

21 Red Brook Road
Buzzards Bay, MA 02532


"Tick Talk"


Did you know?


  • Ticks crawl up

Ticks don't jump, fly, or drop from trees onto heads and backs. If you find one attached there, it most likely latched onto the foot or leg and crawled up over the entire body. Ticks are "programmed" to try and attach around head or ears. On their normal hosts, ticks also usually crawl up; they want to blood feed around the head, neck, and ears of their host, where the skin is thinner and hosts have more trouble grooming.


  • All ticks come in small, medium and large sizes

Ticks hatch from eggs and develop through three active (and blood-feeding) stages: larvae (small-the size of sand grains); nymphs (medium-the size of poppy seeds); adults (large-the size of apple seeds). If you see them bigger, they're probably partially-full or full of blood.


  • Deer ticks can even be active in the winter

That's right! Adult stage deer ticks become active every year after the first frost. They're not killed by freezing temperatures, and while other ticks enter a feeding diapause as day-lengths get shorter, deer ticks will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen.


  • Ticks carry disease-causing microbes

With explosive increases in deer populations, extending even into semi-urban areas in the eastern and western U.S., the trend is for an increasing abundance, and geographic spread, of deer ticks and Lone Star ticks.  Scientists are finding an ever-increasing list of disease-causing microbes transmitted by these ticks: Lyme disease bacteria, Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia and Rickettsia rickettsia.


  • Only deer ticks transmit Lyme disease bacteria

The only way Lyme disease is transmitted is by a deer tick or one of its "cousins" found around the world.  Deer ticks are also known as blacklegged ticks in the United States, sheep ticks in Europe, or Taiga ticks in Asia.


  • For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection

A quick daily tick check can be helpful in finding and removing attached ticks before they can transmit an infection.  Many of the disease-causing microbes transmitted by ticks need a "re-activation" period in the tick once it begins to feed.  The bacteria eventually make their way into the tick's salivary glands and the tick spits them out while feeding.  The Lyme disease bacteria take at least 24 hours to invade the tick's saliva.


  • Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are preventable

The only way to get a tick-transmitted disease is from a tick bite. Reducing tick abundance in your yard, treating pets every month with tick preventatives, getting into a habit of doing a scan for attached ticks and pulling ticks off quickly and safely are all great actions for preventing tick bites.  


Thank you to the University of Rhode Island for the above information.