There has been an increase in the number of ticks found on pets possibly due to warm and damp weather.
- Ticks carrying disease are found across the UK
- They can be very small and bites can be unnoticed
- Ticks are most active from March to October, but they can be active on mild winter days
- You will not feel the tick attach to you, so check your skin and that of children
- The tick must be removed as soon as possible after it attaches and without squashing it. If you are not sure of how to remove a tick seek advice from a vet.
Ticks feed on the blood of other animals. If a larval tick picks up an infection from a small animal, when it next feeds as a nymph it can pass the infection to the next animal or human it bites.
They cannot jump or fly, but when ready for a meal will climb a nearby piece of vegetation and wait for a passing animal or human to catch their hooked front legs. The tick will not necessarily bite immediately, but will often spend some time finding a suitable site on the skin, so it is important to brush off pets and clothing before going inside.”
Once a tick has started to feed, its body will become filled with blood. Adult females can swell to many times their original size. As their blood sacs fill they generally become lighter in colour and can reach the size of a small pea, generally grey in colour. Larvae, nymphs and adult males do not swell as much as they feed, so the size of the tick is not a reliable guide to the risk of infection. If undisturbed, a tick will feed for around 5 to 7 days before letting go and dropping off.
The bite is usually painless and most people will only know they have been bitten if they happen to see a feeding tick attached to them.
The risk of infection increases the longer the tick is attached, but can happen at any time during feeding. As tick bites are often unnoticed, it may be difficult to determine how long it has been attached. Any tick bite should be considered as posing a risk of infection.