Sheep Ticks (Ixodes ricinus) are common inhabitants of our moorlands, living predominantly in bracken areas. They are very small in size (approx 2mm long) and look like a flattened spider. They are most prevalent between April and October, thriving in warm, wet conditions.
Ticks can transfer Louping Ill to sheep, a disease which is outwardly visible through stiffened joints. This disease is also a cause of mortality in Red Grouse. Sheep are regularly dipped by Landowners and Graziers to protect them against this threat.
Sheep Ticks will latch onto anything which brushes past them. If you have been walking through deep vegetation, particularly bracken, it is wise to check yourself and your dog for Ticks at the end of your walk. A Tick will often walk around on the host for a couple of hours before attaching. They will often seek out harder to reach areas of the body such as armpits.
The best way to avoid being bitten by a tick is to avoid walking through deep bracken or sitting in deep vegetation. Vets will be able to give advise on how to best remove a tick from your pet, there are even special ‘tick removers’ available. Ticks will expand as they gorge, turning grey in colour, eventually falling off the host when they are full. When removing a Tick, try to pull it out gently without leaving an attached part behind.
Ticks are carriers of Lymes disease and can transfer it to humans through their bite. Symptoms of the disease include joint and muscle pain, headache, fever and tiredness. If you experience any of these symptoms after a tick bite, contact your doctor.
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