A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 10, 2009

Identifying Ticks


Leigh from Hill Country Alpacas  posted a comment to my March 8, 2009 blog entry “Warm Weather Wigglers” asking which type of ticks we have.


Good question Leigh!  We are fortunate that we do not have deer ticks in this part of the country.  Deer ticks are the type of tick that can carry Lyme Disease, a dangerous disease to both humans and alpacas.


The types of ticks we have in our area are the American Dog Tick and the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick.   


I have been fortunate enough (although perhaps it is a matter of opinion whether this is fortunate or not!) to have our small animal vet show me ticks in their various stages from egg to nymph to adult.   The eggs and nymphs of the American Dog Tick are tiny, adult Deer ticks themselves are tiny so imagine how small their eggs and nymphs are.  If the ticks are not gorged with blood they are small and brown, once engorged though they become large and have more of a grey color to them. 


With any tick related illness it is important to find the offending tick and remove it, which if you are dealing with deer ticks is quite a challenging task.  The tick paralysis that TeQueely contracted was most likely caused by a Rocky Mountain Wood Tick.  The tick paralysis occurs from contact with the saliva of the female tick.  Typically that type of paralysis starts at the front end of the alpaca and progresses backwards.  For TeQueely her front end was definitely affected the most and she still drags her front right leg a little as a result.  When TeQueely was at her worst her eardrums were also severely swollen, to this day I still cannot believe that they didn’t rupture and can only imagine the pain she must have been in.


There are many species of tick in the United States, if you are interested in trying to identify the type of ticks you are encountering there are a couple of websites that have excellent pictures of ticks.  One is courtesy of the Department of Entomology at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln



The other website is www.tickinfo.com , that not only has pictures of ticks but has some fascinating information on its home page as to the ability of ticks to locate their hosts or prey.


Hope the pictures and information don’t make your skin crawl!



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