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No 'Tick' of Approval for these Creepy Critters!

When we took 'Harry' the Blue-tongue Lizard to our vet, we didn't realise that we'd left them with a few 'extras'. Poor Harry had a few bush paralysis ticks lodged between his toes, feeding off his blood.

Here's a couple of photos we took of them. You can see that they are different sizes, this is because they are at different stages of development (some are baby ticks and some are fully grown adults).

Scary Tick Facts:
  • Most ticks in NSW live along the coast...yes, this is also where most people live!
  • Female ticks lay up to 3,000 eggs!!
  • To get a feed of blood, the tick does some strange behaviour called 'questing'. This is where the tick climbs to the top of a bush and waves it's legs around hoping to catch onto an unsuspecting animal like a bandicoot, possum...or human!
  • Male ticks feed on live females. Up to four male ticks have been found sucking the blood out of a female...blah!
How to avoid getting a tick on you:
  • Avoid going to damp, forest areas which are known to have lots of ticks.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants and tuck pants into socks.
  • Put tons of insect repellent on.
  • ALWAYS check yourself, or even better, get someone else to check you after you've been in the bush. Especially check behind the ears and your hair and scalp.
  • If you find ticks on your clothing, or you know the area was tick-infested - take off your clothes and put them in a hot tumble-dryer for 20 minutes. This will kill the ticks. (We recommend you put some clean clothes on whilst you wait!!!)
  • Don't forget to check your dog too. Run your hands all over his body and take a good look if you find a small hard lump against his skin. Don't put him in the tumble-dryer if you find a tick though...take him immediately to your vet. If the tick falls off, make sure you pop it in a jar so the vet can see what sort it is.
What to do if you get a tick on you!
  • Don't try to pull it out!
  • Tell your mum or dad immediately
  • Tell them to spray it with insect repellent
  • Don't let them put metholated spirits on it (this will make the tick inject it's saliva into your body...ticks can carry disease)
  • Go to a doctor or re-spray with insect repellent (this makes affects their nerves and makes them too woozy to inject saliva), leave for a while, then gently grip with tweezers and pull (you could leave it to fall off naturally over the next day or two but we reckon that that would be just too creepy for comfort!).
If you start to feel unwell....get to hospital fast.

By Alastair Wadlow

Information sourced from: University of Sydney, Department of Medical Entomology: