What Are the Different Tick Species?

Angela Farrer

The different tick species include ticks that are generally identified by their coloring as well as sometimes by distinctive markings on their bodies. Ticks can also be named for the animals on which they frequently feed; an example is the deer tick. Various other species of ticks include the black tick and the brown dog tick. Tick identification is an important factor in determining the best methods for removing feeding ticks from both animals and humans. Knowledge of different tick species can also help medical professionals decide if a tick host has any risk of contracting a disease that some ticks are known to transmit.

Deer ticks typically live on adult deer due to their ample blood supply.
Deer ticks typically live on adult deer due to their ample blood supply.

Brown dog ticks are one of the most common tick species that are frequently found in dog kennels and other areas of homes that are warm and dark such as the undersides of rugs and the cracks of walls. This tick feeds primarily on dogs and is rarely found on humans; it most often attaches itself to the creases of a dog's ears or the crevices between its toes. Brown dog ticks have naturally migrated over time to a wide variety of geographic regions and climates, although they are native to tropical regions and often do not survive cold winters.

Depending on their sex and type, ticks can expand to different sizes -- as big as a grape or as small as an apple seed -- when feeding on blood.
Depending on their sex and type, ticks can expand to different sizes -- as big as a grape or as small as an apple seed -- when feeding on blood.

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Black ticks can sometimes carry higher risks for humans and animals since this tick species is often known for transmitting Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can lead to serious complications if left untreated. These types of ticks are able to draw their nutrition from both warm- and cold-blooded animals; they are also able to wait in the same outdoor spot for long periods of time before a host comes along. After a black tick has fed uninterrupted on a host for several hours, it can become engorged to the point where its abdominal sack turns white in color due to stretching and creates the appearance of a white tick.

A brown dog tick.
A brown dog tick.

Other common types of ticks include the lone star tick and the rocky mountain tick; these two types are generally prevalent in certain mountainous areas of the eastern and southeastern United States. The lone star tick gets its name from a star-shaped pattern on its protective external shell. While this tick species generally does not carry Lyme disease, a bite from one can still cause noticeable skin rashes in some individuals. The rocky mountain tick is similar in appearance to the brown dog tick, and it is a known carrier of another type of infection called Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

When deer ticks bite they can spread neurotoxins to humans.
When deer ticks bite they can spread neurotoxins to humans.

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Discussion Comments


@KoiwiGal - I agree that with masses of ticks you might want to find something that will remove them altogether, but generally using tweezers is the best method of removing them.

You just have to make sure you grip right next to the skin so you get the whole tick. And be sure to kill the tick afterwards so it can't attach itself to anyone else.

Ticks crawl to the top of long grass in order to attach themselves to passing animals so if your dog keeps picking them up don't let him or her run in long grass.

And make sure you do identify any ticks you find on you and your family, as they can cause allergies and disease and you'll need to let your doctor know what kind you managed to pick up.


@pleonasm - Actually you might want to hope you haven't found a large one since it means it's been feeding on something!

If you have a dog or a puppy infested with ticks the best thing to do is take it to the vet and get something to get them off with a cream.

While you might be able to get away with picking off individual ticks, a whole bunch of them could leave the poor dog with too much injury to his skin, which could lead to infection. Particularly if you miss the mouths of several ticks which might get left in the skin of the dog.

I don't know if you had access to anything like that where you were based but that's the ideal thing to do.

If it's just a single tick, or two or three you can try to draw them out with tweezers.


When I was in Africa for a while I became well acquainted with the brown dog tick.

I had never encountered one before, but one of my local friends over there bought a puppy and the poor thing had hundreds of them, all over its ears and between its toes.

I don't know if it would have survived, actually, if we hadn't gone to work clearing them away. Because it was quite a small thing already. The unfed ticks were about the size of half a grain of rice and they swelled to about the size of my little fingernail.

In fact they swelled so much and looked so different in their adult form that for a while I thought that the adults were a different species of tick.

So, you might find it difficult to identify the smaller ones. Try to find a bigger one if you can if you need to ID a tick.

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