All About Animals: Ticks, Among the Creepiest of the Creepy Crawlers

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First things first. Let me make myself perfectly clear. I really hate ticks – almost as much as I hate fleas, and I really really hate fleas.

Ticks are not just annoying creatures. They are evil, blood-sucking, tenacious, disgusting creepy parasites. Are you getting the picture?

Well, then, onto tick trivia…

  • There are over 825 species of ticks in the world. Now that’s comforting news.
  • They have 8 legs and a hard, flat, shiny body.
  • The tick has 4 life stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult.
  • Females hop on your pal as he passes by and takes a “blood feast”.
  • She enlarges to what looks like a fat bean, falls off, and then lays 3000-5000 eggs that will hatch in 1-2 months – just peachy!
  • Males do not enlarge after eating.
  • Ticks are not classified as an insect, but are related to the spider family.
  • They thrive in high humidity above 90%.
  • These sly varmints can inject an anti-inflammatory anesthetic compound found in their saliva which makes it less likely to know that you have been bitten.
  • These nasty critters may live for 1-2 years and can lay dormant for over a year without a blood meal.
Tick Removal 101

There are several ways to remove ticks safely. First and foremost – if you plan to remove these disgusting hombres by hand, please wear gloves or use a tissue. Diseases can be transmitted to you through cracks in your skin. Using tweezers is a safer choice when dealing with just a few ticks. Pull slowly and gently. Do not crush or squeeze the tick, as it is capable of forcing or vomiting saliva into your pal which contains toxins. Swell, just swell!

After removing ticks, disinfect the area, then apply an antibiotic ointment to help prevent an infection. Remember to dispose of the ticks by putting them in a sealed jar or flushing them you-know-where.

In my book, dabbing on home remedies such as Vaseline, Crazy Glue, nail polish, or peanut butter, then waiting for the tick to suffocate is a big waste of time. Burning a tick while it is on your best friend is just plain crazy!

When dealing with large amounts of ticks, a safe insecticide dip would work faster. You could also use a fine toothed comb. I would follow up with a visit to your vet.

Always remember, ticks hide in the least-likely places. Check ears, eyelids, under collars, and between toes. Tiny male ticks can also be found under engorged females. Due to the fact that these shady characters transmit several potentially deadly diseases, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, and also anemia, preventing tick bites from occurring is definitely the answer.

Many brands of tick sprays, collars, dips and spot-ons are available, but they do all come with possible health risks.

I prefer a more natural approach. I use:

  • Apple cider vinegar in my dogs’ drinking water
  • Lavender shampoo as a bath
  • Skin-So-Soft spritz
  • Essential oils – almond, rose, or geranium
  • Daily garlic tablets
  • Diatomaceous earth sprinkled in kennels or directly on pets

And for now, my 99-cent glasses will be kept close at hand and with them I plan to look and look again. No tick will elude me. So, I’m hereby giving ticks notice. The “Do Not Enter” sign is up at Bella Vista Farms. No ticks on my dogs. Not on my watch!

Click here for more tick information, including how to remove a tick.

Click here for a tick identification guide. 


Chic Miller
Since 1990 Chic Miller and her husband, Bob, have owned and operated Bella Vista Farms Animal Sanctuary, a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal sanctuary on Gas Point Road in Cottonwood. The Millers care for hundreds of abused and neglected animals. Animals that come to this sanctuary remain there for the rest of their lives. Chic is a retired nurse and takes care of all the medical needs for the injured and ill animals. Aside from a few volunteers, Bob and Chic take care of all the daily chores. The Millers care for hundreds of animals, including dogs, horses, ponies, pigs, llamas, goats, cats, chickens and yes, even a one-legged turkey. Chic Miller can be reached at 530-347-0544. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to help support Bella Vista Farms Animal Sanctuary.
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5 Responses

  1. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    My tick story:

    I had a contract to do spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and northern goshawk surveys in southern Oregon, on the Siskiyou National Forest more than 20 years ago. One afternoon, swimming in one of the local rivers, I found a tick attached to my leg. No biggie—I’d removed at least a score of ticks from my bod over the years. But I’d just read a blurb in a local paper—the Oregon Department of Health had collected ticks from the coastal side of the range and found that over 90% of them were infected with Lyme’s disease.

    Sure enough, a few days later I had a target rash around site where the tick had been.

    When I got back to Sacramento I went to my doctor and told him about the article in the newspaper, and showed him the rash. He laughed dismissively and said, “Nah, Lyme’s disease is an East Coast thing. I’ve never heard of a case on the West Coast.” He sent me on my way.

    Half an hour later my phone rings. It’s my doctor. “Uh, after you left I looked it up in a journal, and, uh….yeah, that target lesion is a thing. Which pharmacy do you want your antibiotics prescription faxed to?”

    Hey, I was grateful, and I’m still grateful. He followed up, and then he swallowed his pride enough to admit that he’d probably been wrong.

    • Steve, it’s a good thing your doctor took you seriously.

      I found a lot of interesting information on the internet while looking for tick links for Chic’s story. Creeped me out, for sure. One thing is the debate about how to remove a tick (always by its head, not its body) … whether to slowly pull it straight out, or try to untwist it from your body.

      I remember doing a story about ticks and county workers would check for ticks by driving trucks down the river trails and slowly drag white flags through the grasses along the trail. They’d pull up the white fabric and they’d be loaded with ticks of all kinds.

      It made a believer out of me to avoid tromping through grasses, and to not let tall trail grass brush my legs.

      And I can’t think of ticks without remembering Emma, our dearly departed golden retriever, who returned from a few days being boarded at a veterinarian’s place with the mother of all ticks … seriously the size of a grape. So gross.

      Carry on, and thank you, Chic Miller, for these informative articles.

      • Avatar Peter Bonkrude says:

        Hello Doni,
        That was our agency “dragging the flags” and we still do it!

        Kind Regards,
        Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District

        • Peter, it’s so good to hear from you, and have you part of’s family of awesome online readers.

          That flag-dragging image has remained with me, and is why, to this day, I stay on the river trails’ asphalt paths, and am careful to not let the bordering grass touch my legs.

          (And I’m betting you’ve had some epic tick encounters along the way, too. We should have gone to you for tick photos.)

          Feel free any time to send information our way. We love this stuff!

  2. Avatar Peter Bonkrude says:

    Hello Chic!
    Much thanks for such an informative article! I would be remiss if I didn’t leave some local links for information on ticks; as here in the Northstate we are moving into the time period (October-March) when our residents (and their furry friends) are at their highest risk from adult ticks. For more information on ticks in Shasta County and California-

    Kind Regards!
    Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District