Identifying cattle ticks
Cattle ticks are distinguished by their pale legs and a space between the snout and the first pair of legs.
That’s the quick and simple way to explain how to distinguish an adult cattle tick from the other two ticks of main concern to NSW stockowners: the bush tick and the paralysis tick.
Cattle ticks are very rare in NSW due to a 90 year eradication and control campaign in NSW carried out by NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Cattle Tick program and stockowners.
This tick species remains, however, a major concern because it can transmit tick fever, a potentially fatal disease in cattle.
Cattle tick is a notifiable disease in NSW under the Stock Diseases Act 1923.
This means when you see a cattle tick in NSW you must report it to the nearest NSW DPI or Rural Lands Protection Board office.
They are found mainly on the coast and particularly favour the warmer climate further north.
Bush ticks, sometimes called grass ticks and bottle ticks, make up about 90 per cent of the ticks in NSW.
Paralysis ticks, also called dog ticks, scrub ticks and shell-back ticks, make up about 10pc of the ticks in NSW.
They inject a paralysing toxin that can be fatal, particularly in small or young animals, unless veterinary attention is obtained.
Cattle ticks favour cattle but infestations also occur on buffalo, deer, camels, horses and sheep.
They may occasionally be seen on donkeys and goats but they are not found on marsupials or domestic pets.
Cattle ticks stay on the one host throughout the three-week parasitic phase from pin-head sized larvae to nymph and adult, which are pea-sized. They are called one-host ticks.
Adult ticks are the easiest stage to identify without the use of a magnifying glass and they are the stage most commonly found in a physical examination of livestock.
If you are unsure of the type of tick, take it without delay to the nearest Cattle Tick Control Office or any other office of NSW DPI or your Rural Lands Protection Board.
Detailed identification brochures are also available from these offices.
If you think you have found a cattle tick you must report it to NSW DPI or your Rural Lands Protection Board.