Ticks – UK & Ireland

There are two families of ticks that can be found in the United Kingdom:

Ticks – Quick Links

Ticks

The Risks

Tick Family

Appearance

Feeding

Life Cycle

Reproduction

1. Argasidae – which are a “soft tick” family. They are called soft ticks because they have a spongy and wrinkled back, which extends like a hood over their head and mouth parts.

2. Ixodidae – which are a “hard tick” family. They are called hard ticks because they have a hard plate-like shield that covers their backs. Unlike soft ticks, the head and mouth parts can be seen from above because the shield does not cover them.

As a hard tick feeds and swells up with blood, the shield on its back appears smaller and more towards its head.

There are many species of ticks in each of these families. It is usually a species of hard tick that is found on domestic pets or people, although some soft ticks will bite, given the opportunity.

UK Tick Species:

SPECIES COMMON NAME PREFERRED HOST UK RECORDS OF BITES TO HUMANS GENERAL HABITAT UK DISTRIBUTION
Argas reflexus Pigeon tick. Pigeons, swallows, swifts, crows and chickens. Rarely. Primarily where pigeons roost, e.g. King’s College Cambridge. Mostly south east England.
Carios vespertilionis (previously Argas vespertilionis) Short-legged bat tick or Blyborough Tick. Bats and occasionally birds. None. Live along side their hosts in caves, hollow trees and roof cavities. Widely distributed throughout England and west Scotland.
Carios maritimus (previously Ornithodoros maritimus) Marine Argasid. Marine birds. None. Nesting marine bird colonies. Offshore islands of west Wales.
Dermacentor reticulatus Ornate cow tick. Domestic and wild animals, e.g. dogs horses, cattle, foxes, hares and hedgehogs. Yes. Grasslands, pastures and woodlands. Mostly south west England and Wales.
Haemaphysalis punctata Red sheep tick / Coastal red tick. Mainly sheep, cattle, small mammals and birds. Yes, rarely. Widely differing environments. South east England, west coast of Wales, north Wales.
Hyalomma aegyptium Tortoise tick. Primarily tortoises but also lizards, dogs, horses, small rodents, hares and hedgehogs. None. Primarily arid environments, usually found in burrows. Alien species found in Mid and south England and Ireland.
Hyalomma marginatum None. Migratory birds and common on livestock in the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and parts of Africa. None. Thrives in lower-humidity such as lightly-wooded habitat and heathland. Alien species identified in south-east England and Isle of Man.
Ixodes acuminatus Southern Rodent Tick. Small mammals. None. Burrows of small rodents. Cornwall, Devon and the Isles of Scilly.
Ixodes apronophorus Marsh Tick. Small mammals (in particular water voles) and coypu (primarily in wetlands). None. On host and in nesting materials. Norfolk Broads, Wicken Fen and north-east coastal plain, Scotland.
Ixodes arboricola Tree-hole Tick. Tree-hole nesting birds. None. Cracks in bark and nesting materials. England, Wales and Scotland.
Ixodes caledonicus Northern Bird Tick. Cliff-nesting birds. None. Rock cracks and nesting materials. North of England & Scotland.
Ixodes canisuga British dog tick / Fox tick. Primarily foxes and mustelids but also domestic dogs. None. Tolerates dry conditions, e.g. kennels. UK wide.
Ixodes frontalis Passerine tick. Passerine birds None. Roosting areas Southern England, Scilly Isles, Isle of Man and isolated reports in Scotland & Ireland.
Ixodes hexagonus Hedgehog tick. Hedgehogs, foxes, mustelids, dogs, cats, rodents and occasionally birds. Yes. On the host or in the nest. Present in suburban / urban areas. The whole of the UK but commonest in south east England.
Ixodes lividus Sand martin tick. Sand martins, occasionally swallows, house martins. None. On the host or in the burrow. Mostly in England and Ireland. Isolated reports in Scotland.
Ixodes ricinus Sheep tick / Castor bean tick / Wood tick / Deer tick. Wild and domestic small-large mammals, birds and reptiles and amphibians. Yes, frequently. Grassland, moorland, heathland and woodland. Found in suburban / urban areas. Widely distributed UK wide.
Ixodes rothschildi Puffin Tick Marine birds. None. Burrows of nesting marine birds. South west England and west Wales.
Ixodes trianguliceps Vole tick / Shrew tick. Principally small rodents but also foxes and mustelids. Yes, rarely. The burrows or nests of its hosts but larvae quest for hosts in plant litter. Widely distributed UK wide.
Ixodes unicavatus Cormorant Tick Marine/ coastal birds None. Rock cracks and nesting materials. Distributed UK wide
Ixodes uriae Seabird tick. Primarily colonial seabirds, occasionally other birds. Yes. Found in and around the nests, burrows and cracks in stone. Coastal regions UK wide.
Ixodes ventalloi Rabbit tick. Primarily rabbits and occasionally cats, hedgehogs, mustelids, rodents and birds. None. On the host and in burrows. South West England (Lundy and Isles of Scilly).
Ixodes vespertilionis Long-legged bat tick. Bats species, particularly horseshoe-bats. None. Roosting areas. South west England, northern Wales and Ireland.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus  Brown dog tick / Kennel tick.  Dogs, cats and foxes but also recorded on cattle, rabbits, hares, hedgehogs and squirrels. Yes. Kennels and other sheltered places. Generally southern England.