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"Felix" - Cat with Ticks
Photo of a tick being removed
Image © H3D
Tick being removed

Photo of a tick held in the tick twister with its mouthparts complete
Image © H3D
Tick after removal - with its mouthparts still complete


Photo of tick twisters in two sizes
Image © H3D
O'Tom Tick Twisters in two sizes


O'Tom website

All Images © H3D: All rights reserved

The tick season is well under way. Ixodes ricinus has been without food for almost a year and is waiting in anticipation for his next annual feast……..your pet!

Felix Blockley was playing host to three greedy individuals when he was presented at the surgery last week.

Ixodes ricinus, to give him his real name, is a three-host tick and the lifecycle requires three years. The tick feeds for only a few days each year…….a neat trick if you can manage it!

There are two distinct seasonal periods of I. ricinus -March until June and August until November - during which infestation of pets and livestock occur.

During these periods ticks can be found on the tips of vegetation searching for a host which they locate with the aid of sensory bristles.

If the tick is forcible removed during the "locked" phase of feeding there can be a considerable reaction to the mouthparts which often remain embedded in the pet's skin.

During engorgement the bodyweight of a tick increases by about 200 times. "Felix" need have no worries, as we were able to remove his feeding "friends" with the aid of an "O'Tom Tick Twister" - which gently prizes their mouthparts from their victim.

Most of the concerns regarding the ticks are not associated with the ticks themselves, although in very heavy infestations they could cause anaemia, but with the diseases they carry.

Fortunately for Felix and the rest of the British pet population those concerns thus far are unwarranted. However, with the change in the quarantine laws allowing greater freedom for British pets to travel abroad the prospect of bringing home such diseases as Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis has been increased. These diseases attack the patient's blood cells often causing anaemia and death.

The advice to would be travellers is to make sure you treat for ticks BEFORE you cross the channel! - alternatively, holiday in Scotland!

O'Tom Tick Twisters are available from the surgery.

Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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