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john claiborne
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What are Ticks?

Published on 12/25/2012
For additional information  Click Here

Ticks are in the phylum of animals called Arthropoda (jointed appendage). This phylum is the largest in the animal kingdom. There are over 850 different species of ticks, and they parasitize every class of terrestrial vertebrate animal, including amphibians. Ticks are small rounded arachnids that cling to one spot and do not move. They insert their head under the skin and engorge themselves on the blood. Ticks carry disease, which means that you should have yourself or your pets checked after you find ticks. On the one hand, ticks are a little easier to deal with since they remain outdoors, and do not infest houses the way fleas do; on the other hand, they carry more dangerous diseases and are harder to find. • What kinds of Ticks exist? There are two basic types of ticks. Soft ticks, the argasids, are distinguished by their soft, leathery cuticle and lack of scutum. They can be recognized easily by their subterminal mouthparts that are on the underside of the tick. Soft ticks when engorged with blood blow up like a balloon. Soft ticks are fast feeders, being able to tank up in a matter of hours. Hard ticks, the Ixodids, have a hard plate on the dorsal surface and have terminal mouthparts. When attaching, a tick will slice open the skin with the mouthparts and then attach itself. They also secrete a cement that hardens and holds the tick onto the host. Hard ticks are slow feeders, taking several days to finish their bloodmeal. During feeding a tick may extract up to 8 ml of blood, they can take 100X their body weight in blood. Interestingly, they concentrate the blood during feeding and will return much of the water to the host while losing some by transpiration through the cuticle. • How to remove a Tick? When you find a tick, use tweezers to pick up the body and pull s-l-o-w-l-y and gently, and the mouthparts will release. You should see a small crater in your dog's skin, if you see what looks like black lines, you've left the head of the tick in. At this point, if your dog is mellow enough, you should try and pick it out. Otherwise, you may need to take your pet to the vet’s, as the head parts will lead to an infection. Ticks carry a lot of rickettsial diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, so you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap after handling a tick. Some veterinarians will put on gloves, smear one finger with a bit of mineral oil and massage the protruding part of the tick for a minute or so. The tick will back out.
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