What Animals Eat Ticks? - 5 Natural Predators
Ticks may be tiny, but they can carry Lyme disease. They feed on the blood of humans, mammals, and birds, and if there is long-term exposure, they can be dangerous. This is because they can also transmit diseases to mammals, birds, and humans.
Of course, the food chain is a continuous cycle. While ticks feed on the blood of others, other animals and other insects, like fire ants, eat ticks. If ticks are around, these tick predators can help control tick populations. They can be very beneficial, especially with Lyme disease on the rise. Mice, squirrels, deer, dogs, and many others all aid in spreading ticks.
In this article, we will discuss What animals eat ticks? Let’s get started!
Where are ticks found?
Ticks can be found in all fifty states of America and all over the world. There are nine hundred species of ticks on earth.
Ticks live in tall grass and wooded areas. If you are out in these grassy areas, you could pick up ticks. Ticks cannot fly, and like bedbugs, they hitch a ride on a passing host. Check your clothing and pets for ticks when you are home.
Ticks are most active from April to September but are around all year.
Facts about ticks
Ticks are arthropods, oval, and spider-like with eight legs and are reddish-brown or black in color.
After feeding on blood for three to six days, ticks become swollen and fall off their host, leaving behind a small red bump on the skin.
Most ticks carry Lyme disease; others can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Anaplasmosis, Southern tick-associated rash illness, tick-borne relapsing fever, Tularemia, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis.
The risk of catching these diseases depends on how long the tick has been biting, the tick species, and where the tick came from.
If you notice a lot of rodents in the backyard, they could be attracting ticks!
What Animals Eat Ticks?
There is no single animal that just eats ticks. Animals who usually feed on insects and critters eat other tick-eating animals and ticks too. Here are some of the animals that eat ticks:
Many people dislike Opossums because they are labeled as ugly marsupials. They are similar looking to rats and weasels. Opossums are nocturnal animals, so you will mostly see them at night. The Virginia Opossum is tick eating animal. Ecosystem studies found squirrels eat ticks but not as many as a Virginia Opossum.
They eat both plants and meat found on the ground in suburban and urban areas. Apart from that, they will eat whatever is available.
Whatever they find on the ground, they eat. For example, mice and insects. While Opossums are searching for their food, they encounter ticks that can latch on to them as they do with other humans and creatures that brush by them. They eat the ticks feeding on them; these ecological traps are brilliant because Opposums encounter a lot of ticks.
However, contrary to what they look like, Opossums are clean marsupials. Opossums constantly groom themselves. When they are doing this, they eat the ticks that have latched on to them. They can kill more than 90% this way.
So, even if they may seem ugly to you, they are clean marsupials that can help with tick control.
Toads And Frogs
Toads and frogs eat insects and will eat any insect that comes near them. This is why they also consume ticks and spiders. Sometimes ticks and spiders are even used as baits to capture toads.
Even though frogs are not fussy about what they eat, they are still picky about one thing, and that is where they will eat. Frogs stay primarily in water, and they prefer eating there. This is why they are less likely to be tick predators and consume ticks.
On the other hand, toads mostly stay on the land, and they have a higher probability of finding ticks. So they are more likely to consume ticks than frogs would.
#3. Guinea Fowl
Guinea fowl belong to the same family as the peacock. They originate from Africa; they are incredibly hardy. People don’t usually keep these birds as pets.
Guinea fowl are more likely to be seen on farms. A guinea fowl diet mainly consists of bugs, insects, and ticks, although they do not eat enough ticks to affect the tick population. They end up eating ticks because they look for their food on the ground and find insects, ticks, and bugs to eat. Guinea hens are known to eat more ticks than other animals.
If they happen to find ticks, they will eat those, too, as they are not fussy about the kind of insects and bugs they eat. We cannot rely on them solely for controlling ticks and the general tick population.
Guinea hens and some other birds can become hosts themselves and carry a tick-borne disease.
Chickens are not just found on farms; people also keep them in their backyards. Chickens will remove ticks from bigger animals like cows! Chickens can be kept as pets, and their eggs are eaten daily. This is why people now like raising chickens.
They are easy to handle and easy to keep. All you need is a good coop for them where they can eat and lay their eggs. Chickens eat everything. They also look for food on the ground and always look for bugs and insects to eat.
So if they happen to encounter ticks, they will end up eating them since they don’t have a preference for a particular bug. So, chickens in your yard can keep ticks out of your backyard.
Besides getting delicious eggs for breakfast, your backyard will remain tick-free too. You’ll be getting the best of both worlds.
Not every bird eats ticks, crawling insects, ants, and bugs. Bigger birds like eagles and hawks prefer to prey on mammals. These larger birds need more than small insects to survive. However, smaller birds hunt for food on the ground and feed on bugs and insects.
Young wild turkeys will eat ticks, especially deer ticks; wild turkeys will eat up to two hundred ticks a day, but not enough to control tick populations.
So, any small bird can end up eating ticks off the ground. They get rid of these disease-carrying insects by consuming them. Do remember that flying birds are less likely to consume ticks, while ground birds such as chickens are more prone to eat ticks.
Is Using Natural Predators To Keep Ticks Away A Good Idea?
Every species has a natural predator. This is the law of the food chain, without which everything would be out of control. Of course, ticks have natural predators too. However, releasing them to control the tick population is not a good idea.
This is because many tick predators would have to be released to control tick populations, and this is unsafe. The consequences on the environment would be grave. This is not just speculation, as it has happened before too. Biodiversity is needed to keep our planet going.
The Cane toad was released in Australia to eat and control ticks as part of a healthy diet, which was unsuccessful. The ticks did not die, and the toad population grew significantly. Now, scientists are working towards controlling the toad population instead of keeping ticks away.
Releasing natural predators to control a certain population is not realistic. The animals listed above can help to a degree with tick control in the environment.
What animals eat ticks? – Tick Control eats ticks
We discussed ‘What animals eat ticks’? We hope you have found it helpful. No one likes blood-sucking crawling insects around them. Tick control is essential to have a home that is disease and bacteria-free. If you want to control ticks, then think about keeping chickens or other tick-eating animals that eat ticks from our list.
Releasing natural predators to remove ticks may make the problem worse. You can call pest control to take care of a tick infestation.
Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively.