Native animals suffering a rise in ticks, including possums and bandicoots.
Native animals suffering a rise in ticks, including possums and bandicoots. Contributed

Animals suffer record tick season

CATS and dogs are not the only animals suffering from a record paralysis tick season, with native animal carers reporting cases of brushtail possums, bandicoots and even magpies falling victim to the parasites.

Orphaned Native Animal Raise and Release Association secretary Beverley Clarke said carers had noticed a lot more paralysis tick cases this season than in previous years.

"There's a lot more out there, that's for sure," Ms Clarke said.

"It's a lot worse now this season - one carer in Rathdowney said her area had been inundated with ticks, and a lot of her joeys and kangaroos were covered in ticks."

The Barellan Point resident said Ipswich carers had handled a few native animals exhibiting signs of paralysis, and had also found large numbers of ticks on released animals and orphaned young.

"I had an animal at a release site in Pine Mountain, and we had to re-capture it to remove ticks," Ms Clarke said.

"Another carer found a bandicoot dragging itself along the road and thought it had been hit by a car, but once we had a look at it we realised it had three big paralysis ticks on it, and that was the problem.

"A few people have found bandicoots in fish ponds with just their noses sticking out, and thought they were drowning.

"It seems like they sit in water to try and get rid of the ticks.

"I also know of possums being killed by ticks but that was in the wider Brisbane area and, unfortunately, our Rathdowney carer lost some joeys and kangaroos to ticks."

Ms Clarke said the increased numbers were part of a cycle, and speculated that the rise was brought on by weather patterns, and possibly a spread of ticks due to the floods.

RSPCA Queensland wildlife carer Karissa Bermoth said there were definitely a lot more ticks this season.

"I've been here for four years and there's been more ticks this year than any other years, and it's only the beginning of the season," Ms Bermoth said.

"Usually ticks don't affect native animals, because they evolved with them so seem to have an immunity, but this year we've seen a possum and a few magpies come in with localised paralysis."

Ms Bermoth put the increase in cases down to habitat damage caused by storms and floods.

"With the storms, animals that usually feed in tree-top canopies are brought to a closer level to ticks," Ms Bermoth said.

She also said that the floods had affected feeding grounds.


Fast facts

  • Native animals are thought to have some degree of immunity to paralysis tick toxins, with some animals including possums able to carry a paralysis tick without suffering symptoms.
  • Fully engorged female adult ticks lay 2000-3000 eggs after dropping off a host animal, then die.
  • Ticks spend more time on the ground, or on grasses and trees, than they do on animals.