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What Is a White Tick?

A brown dog tick.
When a tick's body fills up with blood, it may appear white.
Deer ticks are well-known for spreading Lyme disease.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2014
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When a tick becomes engorged with blood, the sack it uses to hold the blood stretches and often takes on a silvery, whitish appearance; in such a case, it may be described as a white tick. It is the engorgement that causes the tick to appear white, which means a white tick isn't really a different kind of tick at all. Usually, the tick's sack is brown or black, but the engorgement of the sack causes the change in color appearance.

When a person sees a white tick, he might assume that he has sighted a different species of tick. This is due to the fact that most people are used to seeing brown or black ticks. A white tick, however, isn't any different from its brown or black counterparts; it is simply so full of blood that its sack has become overly stretched. The overstretching of the sack makes the sack appear white, especially grayish or silvery white, rather than its usual brown or black coloring. Often, this change in appearance occurs with a common tick called a deer tick.

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People spending time in forested or grassy areas usually take measures to avoid ticks because they behave like external parasites, feeding off the blood of humans and animals. Usually, a tick attaches itself to a human host without making its presence obvious and then feeds off the host's blood, sometimes for days at a time. If a tick is able to remain undiscovered, he could stay in place and feed off the host for a few days. Eventually, the tick's sack becomes so engorged that a person who sees it might describe it as white. Interestingly, it is usually at this point that the tick releases its grip on its host and stops feeding.

After a tick has become engorged, he usually drops off his host. In some cases, the tick may then go into a hibernation-like state in which it does not feed for an extended period of time. In fact, some ticks can live for months or even years before feeding again.

White ticks, like those that have the normal black or brown appearance, are typically considered pests. This is due, in part, to the fact that they spread disease. For example, the deer tick is well known for spreading a serious infection called Lyme disease. Some ticks can spread more than one type of disease, however.

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anon946493
Post 4

My pet pig now has a white tick but it is very small. What could it be?

ZipLine
Post 3

@simrin-- There is a type of tick with a white dot on its back. It's called a lone start tick. I wonder if that's what you saw?

I have never seen a white tick that was not engorged. Yes, some of them are gray color but I've also seen creamy white engorged ticks.

SteamLouis
Post 2

Are we totally sure that there aren't white ticks? Because I found several on our farm, they were white and they were not engorged with blood. Plus, I've seen an engorged tick before, it was more gray than white.

ysmina
Post 1

This is very interesting. I found a white tick on my dog the other day and removed it. I was confused and wasn't sure if it was a tick at first because of the color. But it looked just like a tick otherwise and I could tell that the head was under the skin.

I guess it's sort of good that ticks turn white because that way, we know that they've been feeding for a while. I know that the longer ticks feed, the higher the chances of infecting their host with a disease. I took my dog to the vet after I removed the tick (I took the tick with me in a bottle) to make sure that he would be okay. Thankfully, he's absolutely fine.

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