Sheep ticks – worth looking into?

Every Year I get them, it is worth reminding you and your pals about them?

Hi, this may be interesting you: You HAVE to learn this tick removal trick before you go camping! This is the link:

Dr Alan Walker, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Parasitology, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Veterinary Field Station, Roslin. October 12.


Ticks are small, blood-sucking arthropods related to spiders, mites and scorpions. There are many different species of tick living in Britain, each preferring to feed on the blood of different animal hosts. If given the opportunity, some of them will feed on human blood too. The one most likely to bite humans in Britain is the Sheep tick, Ixodes ricinus. Despite its name, the sheep tick will feed from a wide variety of mammals and birds. Bites from other ticks are possible, including from the Hedgehog tick, Ixodes hexagonus, and the Fox or Badger tick,Ixodes canisuga.

There are four stages to a tick’s life-cycle: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Larvae, nymphs and adults all only feed once in each stage. The whole life cycle lasts around 2 years.

Ticks feed on the blood of other animals. If a larval tick picks up an infection from a small animal such as a vole, 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. This behaviour is known as questing. The tick will not necessarily bite immediately, but will often spend some time finding a suitable site on the skin.

sheep tick

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. A Public Health England leaflet for GPs points out that disease transmission can be in less than a day. 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.

Adults are most often bitten around the legs. Small children are generally bitten above the waist—check their hairline and scalp.


It may be worth wearing long, light-coloured trousers tucked into long socks is the primary defence against these ticks, no matter how hot the weather. People should be informed of the risk of wearing shorts in tick-infested country. Ticks will be found mostly where there are roe deer or red deer, which in Scotland is on all rough hill country but particularly woodland, including conifer plantation. Sheep also support deer and their pastures are likely to be infested. Bracken is often thought to be a place where many ticks are found but it is no worse than any rough vegetation where deer or sheep are found. The time of year when most ticks are active is April to June, with a smaller peak in September. Check carefully for ticks on your skin after walking in ticky areas.

A bite from an infected tick will produce a slowly spreading red rash around the tick bite over several weeks. This is not the little itchy plook at the bite site of any tick. If you get this symptom, or if you think you have some of the odd flu-like symptoms, see your doctor. There are effective diagnostic tests and the disease is easily cured with routine antibiotic treatment at its early stages.

Comments Sheep ticks #

Kenny Kennworthy  –  remember, a bullseye rash only manifests in about 50% of cases. A massive problem in Roseisle and Culbin forests.


Anne Butler  – Use Bravecto for the dogs. I used it for Molly last year as did Heather with Milly. Beforehand using Frontline l was pulling 20 live ones a day off them after a day on the hill.
After the first Bravecto tablet from the vet Molly only had two dead ones all year!

Years of roaming around Scotland and I never had a problem. However, after walking the dog in Roseisle forest I found a tick on my leg with a red blemish around the bite. A few weeks later I found a rash in the same place, but it was very faint, only just noticeable. I was put on Doxycycline for 10 days and they took a blood test. The NHS lost my blood test and it was too late to take another after the event! That didn’t really matter because often the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria don’t show anyway. I have had no symptoms of lyme disease onset since. I was very lucky.
Not so lucky for a guy I met at Heriot Watt. He had been doing ecological surveys in Roseisle forest and picked up a tick – no rash. The event led to lyme disease and he never got out of his bed for 18 months and 10 years later is still on 10 tablets a day to try and control it. It still badly affects him. Most importantly the NHS doesn’t have the expertise to treat full-blown lyme disease.

Any Comments?


About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
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