Yes, Turkeys do eat ticks. Turkeys are not picky eaters, and they can feed on almost every insect, including the poppy or sesame seed-sized ticks. An adult turkey is one of the most avid tick predators, and a single bird can eat up to 200 of these little critters in a day.
However, despite a turkey’s ability to consume ticks and other bugs, a flock of passing birds cannot sufficiently control the number of ticks in a backyard. So, as a homeowner, you still need to invest in proper tick and flea control to keep kids and pets away from biting insects.
What Do Ticks Look Like
Ticks are arachnids, meaning they are closely related to spiders and mites. They have four life phases: egg, larvae, nymph, and adult. A starved tick is flattened and with a shape of a teardrop.
A larval tick has six legs, while a nymph and adult tick has eight legs. Three species of tick that are a human health concern are the lone star tick, the black-legged tick (deer tick), and the American dog tick.
The size of a tick depends on the species, life stage, whether the tick has fed and how long it has fed. A larval tick hatch from an egg grows into a nymph and then into an adult. For lone star and black-legged ticks, larvae are about the size of a sand grain, nymphs about a poppy seed, and an adult about the size of a sesame seed.
An adult female lone star and black-legged tick can be as big as a raisin when fully fed. American dog ticks are larger than a lone star and black-legged ticks.
A tick features different shapes and color patterns depending on the species, sex, and life stage. Tick bellies expand after feeding, making identification a bit hard for most people. If you want to know a tick species, consider getting a professional to identify it for you.
How to Prevent Ticks Infesting Your Birds and Home
Not many species of ticks will invade your home, but there are some. Dog ticks are one species that are likely to invade your home, and since the female can lay thousands of eggs at a time, an infestation can multiply rapidly. That is why it’s crucial to inspect your dog and remove any ticks right away after your pet has been outdoors.
In addition, it is crucial to maintain the shrubbery and grass near your home. Keep it trimmed and cut short, so it will not be an attractive home for ticks. And when you go out for a nature walk, make sure to use an insect repellent made explicitly for ticks.
Wear long pants and sleeves and closed-toed shoes when working or walking in tall grass and remove your clothes promptly as soon as you return home.
Spray your birds and other animals with spot-on pet tick drops every 4 to 6 weeks to prevent them from tick infestation. And if your animals don’t mind having a bath, give them a tick bath with medicated shampoo. You can also use tick sprays instead of spot-on drops, and this will kill the tick instantly and prevent infestation for a short period.
Can Turkey Acquire Lyme Disease from Eating Ticks?
No, turkeys cannot acquire Lyme disease from eating ticks. Ticks must bite to infest their host with a disease, which doesn’t occur immediately.
Hard ticks will have to be attached to their host for about 36 hours to transmit Lyme disease. Only undeveloped ticks transmit Lyme disease almost immediately.
An adult tick only transmits diseases when it is at the end of its meal and full of blood. However, that cannot happen after they have been killed and fed on by a turkey. There has not been an instance of a turkey acquiring Lyme disease after feeding on ticks.
Turkeys are often not picky when it comes to food, and they can eat anything. They eat plants, nuts, fruit, and larger insects, and ticks are no exception. Although wild turkeys will eat ticks in your backyard when they pass across, they cannot keep your yards ticks-free, so you must take control measures to prevent this nuisance critter.
Ticks live in areas where their host, including dogs and rabbits, live and roam, and that is in woody and grassy areas. They attach themselves to their hosts as they pass and feed on the host’s blood for about two days before detaching from them.
Ticks are dangerous since they can transmit diseases to their host, including people, and that is why you need to have your environment completely free of ticks.
Featured Image Credit: Sean R. Stubben, Shutterstock