Meet the the Common Kangaroo Tick

Article | Updated 3 years ago

The Common Kangaroo Tick, or Amblyomma triguttatum, is a terrestrial invertebrate that lives on the outside of a host animal. This pesky creature especially likes to latch onto warm mammals such as a kangaroo or wallaby. An animal that lives this way is called an ectoparasite.

The Common Kangaroo Tick varies greatly in size between individuals. (Un)engorged females can be quite small at 0.4-0.5cm, but after they feed (become engorged) they can grow to 2.5cm long. 

These ticks are dark reddish brown in colour, with silvery patches on their head regions. The four subspecies of this tick can be found in bushland areas across Australia, especially when their preferred hosts are present in large numbers. However, they have not been recorded in Victoria or Tasmania. 

Image of a Common Kangaroo Tick

Common Kangaroo Tick
Image copyright WA Museum 

Preferred Hosts

Common Kangaroo Ticks are usually found on kangaroos or wallabies, but will also feed on domestic animals such as dogs, horses, cattle and sheep. They are also happy to feed on humans! 

These ticks are usually not dangerous, but bites can become infected, and ticks can also play a role in the transmission of disease.

Lifecycle 

The lifecycle of a Common Kangaroo Tick has three stages. 

A female needs to feed off a host animal before she can produce eggs. After she has satisfied herself with a blood meal and has produced her eggs, the engorged female drops from host. She then lays a clutch of eggs, which can number in the thousands. After this, she dies. 

The baby larval ticks then hatch, and can survive for weeks with no food (depending on climate). When the larvae have the opportunity to attach to a mammalian host, such as a kangaroo, they will feed over several days, and then drop off to moult to the nymphal stageThe cycle is then repeated, and the tick matures on the third host mammal.