Getting rid of ticks is easier than you might think because there are many animals that eat ticks. Some of these animals are natural predators who rely on ticks for their survival, but there are also some that eat ticks because they lack other food sources. The animals that eat ticks range from birds and mammals to amphibians and other insects.
Some animals that eat the most ticks include guinea fowl, opossums, turkeys, rats, fire ants, and wolf spiders. Other tick-eating animals include frogs, squirrels, chickens, and squirrels. Learn about mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects that all feed on ticks.
Table of Contents
Common Animals That Eat Ticks
5 Birds That Eat Ticks
A few types of birds will eat ticks, but smaller birds are more likely to consume the bugs than bigger birds are.
Other birds in the United States will supplement their diets with ticks if they need more food. Small birds will often pull the ticks off larger birds or large mammals.
What birds eat ticks? Here are five common tick-eating birds.
Oxpeckers are a common species that eat ticks, but they only live in Africa.
Because of the high volume of ticks that they consume, they are also known as tickbirds.
There are two species of oxpeckers: red-billed and yellow-billed. Learn more about both species of oxpecker birds.
Many farmers rely on chickens to take care of their tick problems. These birds live in coops and often do well when they live in small groups.
Chickens can consume ticks that live on or close to the ground. They will also remove ticks from cows and other larger animals.
Both domestic and wild turkeys will eat ticks, but wild turkeys more commonly eat these bugs.
They like pecking at the ground and grabbing anything that moves. A turkey will not track a tick but will simply grab it with its beak and eat it when they see one.
Turkeys can eat +200 ticks every day.
4. Guinea Fowl
Another type of bird that will eat ticks is the guinea fowl. Guinea cock are the male guinea fowl, while guinea hens are the female birds.
They eat both the deer ticks responsible for Lyme disease and other types of ticks, which makes them natural population control birds.
A single guinea can take care of all of the ticks in your yard. Not only do they eat ticks on the ground, but they will occasionally eat the ticks found on bigger animals.
While native to sub-Saharan Africa, guinea fowl are often kept as domesticated poultry in North America.
Ducks are insect-eating machines – and eat high volumes of ticks.
Because they aren’t afraid of water like some of these other birds, they’ll get ticks and bugs that the others won’t. They happily get into the mud and consume ticks on the grass in swampy areas.
7 Mammals that Eat Ticks
Mice have a natural connection with ticks as these small rodents carry Lyme disease. When ticks bite them, they become infected and can transfer the disease to humans.
They also eat some of those ticks though, especially if they have limited access to food. Mice can live outside in pastures or fields but can also live inside your home.
Similar to mice, rats are small rodents that eat ticks. They commonly live in urban areas and big cities where they have access to both food and water.
The problem is that rats only eat ticks when they have no other option. They also cannot eat enough ticks to help with population control.
Don’t worry if you see opossums running around your yard because they will eat most or all of the ticks outside.
A single opossum will consume up to 5,000 ticks in a normal season and remove up to 95% of the ticks found on their bodies.
Opossums pick up ticks as their bodies drag along the ground and then consume the bugs as part of their diets.
Chipmunks are another type of animal that will eat ticks.
Unlike insects and other animals that primarily survive on ticks, chipmunks consume them as part of a healthy diet with other foods. Just as squirrels do, chipmunks pick up ticks as they play on the ground and in trees.
You should be glad when you see squirrels outside because these tiny animals eat almost all of the ticks that try to feed on them.
Squirrels pick up ticks as they run around trees and across the ground. Some refer to them as ecological traps because they will consume ticks at the same time that they eat other things.
Read more about what squirrels eat.
6. Wild Rabbits
Wild rabbits prefer a diet based on vegetables but can eat ticks. As the rabbits tend to live in weeds and grass, they come across ticks that attach to their bodies and feed off them.
When the rabbit cleans itself later, it will swallow the ticks clinging to its body. Wild rabbits usually do not seek out ticks though.
Raccoons have no problem eating ticks. Similar to opossums, they pick up ticks as they walk through tall weeds and grass.
Raccoons are clean creatures that clean themselves a few times a day.
They will eat any ticks that they find on their bodies but will not go after ticks in the wild.
4 Insects and Spiders that Eat Ticks
1. Wolf Spiders
Hunting spiders such as wolf spiders will locate the ticks while hunting. And then inject them with venom to immobilize them until they can eat.
Here are the differences between wolf and brown recluse spiders.
2. Brown Recluse Spiders
There are a handful of spiders that kill and eat ticks such as brown recluse spiders. Some spiders spin webs and use their webs to catch other insects, but other spiders hunt at night.
Those that use webs will keep the ticks trapped in the silk and eat them over time.
Learn more about brown recluse spiders.
Some studies found that wasps consume ticks, especially parasitic wasps. When the wasp finds a tick, it will use its stinger to paralyze the bug and keep it from moving, and then slowly eat it.
One of the biggest problems with using wasps though is that they tend to favor other insects, which means that they don’t help with population control.
4. Fire Ants
You may not think of ants as predators, but these bugs can wreak havoc on a tick population.
Ants usually look for food sources and build nests near places where they have access to guaranteed food.
Though there are different types of ants that eat ticks, fire ants are the most popular.
3 Reptiles and Amphibians that Eat Ticks
Frogs are just one of the wild animals that feed on ticks. Unlike other animals though, frogs only turn to ticks when they do not have other food sources.
They use their long tongues to grab the ticks as the insects will stick to their tongues and then swallow them.
Frogs live near water and can eat ticks found near the water or on the ground.
If you’re a fan of fishing in the wild, you should feel good when you see toads hanging out near the water. Toads are natural predators to ticks and will eat those that they find.
A few toads can easily take care of all the ticks they find in the weeds close to the water, but they may not eat enough to remove all of the ticks.
3. Western Fence Lizards
Western Fence Lizards have a type of protein in their bodies that kills the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. When they eat enough ticks, the protein will neutralize that bacteria to keep them safe.
The lizards prefer cool and dry climates such as those found in parts of Texas and California. They can eat up to 95% of the ticks found in their habitat.
More Reading: 12 Best Tick Repellents for Yard
FAQs About Tick Predators
Do Squirrels Eat Ticks?
Squirrels absolutely will eat ticks. These wild animals often live in trees and spend time in areas where ticks roam free.
Though squirrels usually do not look for ticks to eat, they will eat those they find on their bodies.
You should not rely solely on squirrels for tick control though as there is a risk the animals might carry ticks across different areas.
Do Frogs and Toads Eat Ticks?
Frogs and toads also eat ticks. They often live in warm areas that are close to water such as ponds and lakes.
One nice benefit of these amphibians is that they consume ticks that are on tall grass next to the waterline. Their long tongues help them snatch ticks without moving from their spots.
Do Raccoons Eat Ticks?
Raccoons often eat ticks when they clean themselves. Though you might think that these animals are dirty, they wash their bodies a few times a day.
A raccoon will pick up ticks from the places where they hang out and can carry them to different areas. The raccoon will usually eat more than 90% of the ticks it finds on its body.
Do Birds Eat Ticks?
Many types of birds will eat ticks in the wild, including turkeys and chickens. A small group of chickens can control the tick population on a farm and keep the bugs from feeding on pigs and other animals.
Do Crows Eat Ticks?
Crows are smart birds that humans can train to do simple and complex tasks. As these birds are omnivores, they eat both plants and meats.
Though some view these birds as harbingers of doom, they do a good job of reducing the tick population in a specific area.
Crows often go after ticks after they feed because their bodies grow larger and they are easier to see.
Do Groundhogs Eat Ticks?
Do not assume that the cute and furry groundhog you see running across your lawn will kill the ticks you often find on your pets.
While groundhogs are omnivores, they primarily eat plants.
They will eat snails, grasshoppers, and June bugs as available, according to Terminix.
You’re more likely to find one eating your favorite bush than chowing down on a tick. As groundhogs spend their lives living close to the ground and beneath the surface, they come into contact with ticks every day. It’s possible for the animals to introduce the bugs to other areas.
While a groundhog might inadvertently eat a tick while grooming, they don’t seek them out.
More reading: What eats mosquitoes?
More Reading: How to Kill a Tick: 14 Methods
What eats ants? Here are 28 Animals that Eat Ants
Whether you live in the rural country or a quiet city, you can pick up ticks every time you head outside. In addition to knowing how to kill those insects, you should also look at the bug’s natural predators. Some of the animals that kill ticks and control their populations include rodents and birds along with mammals and amphibians.
- About the Author
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Dena Haines is a co-founder and writer at The Buginator. And is working to make it the best resource for taking back the outdoors from biting, stinging pests.
She also blogs about travel at Storyteller.Travel and photography at Storyteller Tech. Dena is a partner at Storyteller Media, a publishing company she runs with her husband, Bryan.