Lyme disease is prevalent all over the UK today and removing ticks quickly and correctly is a key way to avoid infection.

Lyme disease and how it’s picked up

Stalkers and shooters are particularly at risk of picking up Lyme disease from the bite of an infected tick. How common is it? Lyme Disease Action advises: “Lyme disease gives rise to perhaps 10,000 cases per year in the UK, though precise numbers are not known. Unlike COVID-19, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection and when recognised early it is easily treated with antibiotics.” So having tick removers to hand is key. (Did you know dogs can get Lyme disease too?)

arm rash

Lyme disease rash on arm

A warning tale

Shooting Times contributor Charlie Blance is a stalker based in Scotland who has experienced Lyme disease. She warns: ”In my late teens I went to hospital with a mystery illness. Within a few days I went from being completely fine to being so weak that just standing up required a fair amount of effort. My head was splitting, I was shaking violently and my joints ached so badly – I remember it feeling like my hips, jaw and shoulders were being tugged at non-stop. I didn’t have the bullseye rash, so I was quite lucky the doctor had experience of Lyme – after a few questions about my lifestyle she twigged and took my blood, then sent me home with a course of antibiotics. The test came back positive. It knocked me on my a*** for about two weeks and to this day my joints still ache badly whenever I get a bit run down – so I’m pretty on the ball when it comes to preventing tick bites. Working with deer, I’m exposed to the wee b****** regularly so I always carry tick removers and check myself and my dog daily throughout the summer. I like to use natural repellents and prevent access by wearing the right clothing, and though male deerstalkers may not wish to heed this advice, I’ve found lycra gym leggings underneath your stalking gear prevents both the ticks and clegs from biting through. ”

Lyme Disease Action also warns:

  • Ticks can be tiny and easy to miss
  • They can crawl up boots and trousers
  • It is easier to see them on light coloured clothing
  • Whatever protection you use, ticks may still get to your skin
  • Bottom line: check your skin for attached ticks. An initial bite does not hurt or itch because they inject an anaesthetic into their host’s skin.

Find more about spotting the symptoms of Lyme disease here via Lyme Disease Action. 

large ankle rash

Rash caused by Lyme disease on ankle

Prevention is better than cure

As with many things, it is best to do everything you can to prevent yourself developing Lyme disease in the first place. Wear suitable clothing and always check your skin for ticks after an outing.

Suffolk-based stalker and Shooting Times contributor Graham Downing comments: “The tick population has certainly increased in my region in recent years. I regularly shoot deer that are carrying ticks, and I occasionally find one on myself or my dog. It is usually the day after I have been out stalking, and the warning sign is a steady low-level itch. Check the area out immediately and you’ll probably see a small dark lump in the middle, probably no more than a millimetre across. Remove it with proper tick removers– don’t try to pull it out with tweezers or your fingernails or you’ll leave the mouthparts embedded in your skin. If a tick is removed within 24 hours of attachment, then the risk of Lyme disease is very low indeed.”

Engorged tick

Engorged tick

Tick removers

We asked Lyme Disease Action what they think about tick removers. They said: “It is is worth having a tick remover in your car. Removing the tick promptly reduces the risk of disease being passed, so is definitely a good thing.”

Tick removers are inexpensive, so it’s worth buying a few to have around so that you always have one handy when you need it.

  • Always cleanse your tweezers/removing tool thoroughly with antiseptic.
  • After tick removal, clean the bite site with antiseptic or soap and water.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Store the tick in a secure container in case a doctor asks for evidence that you have been bitten (label it with date and location).
  • Do not try to burn tick off with matches or cigarettes, apply Vaseline or any other chemical.

TickCheck Premium Tick Remover Kit (Stainless Steel Tick Remover with Tweezers, Leather Case and Pocket Tick Identification Card) £14.49

Best for carrying around in pocket

  • Stainless steel
  • Suitable for removing larger embedded ticks
  • Super fine tip tweezers removing nymphs and small deer ticks
  • Suitable for humans and animals
  • Includes useful tick id card

These tick removers comes in their own little pouch, so you can carry them around in your pocket or rucksack without worrying about them catching on a seam (or making hole in your kit).

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Mikki Dog, Puppy, Cat Tick Picker Remover – Tick Removal Tool – for Small Medium and Large Pets £2.49

 

Best for easy cleaning

  • Easy to grip handle 
  • Easy to use
  • Painless tick removal
  • Chemical free
  • Metal hook makes it easy to grasp tick

I keep one of these handy in my car along with antiseptic wipes. I’ve used it frequently on my dog (he seems to pick up ticks on his head and tail mostly) straight after an outing and getting rid of the tick at once is immensely satisfying. I haven’t had to use it on myself yet thankfully. Although it’s good to know I have a tick remover handy – I’d hate to have to drive home knowing that I am hosting a tick. If you run your hand over a dog’s coat you can usually identify a tick by feel (although older dogs will probably have some other lumps and bumps).

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Paws and Claws 3Pcs Tick Remover Tool for Dogs, Pain Free Tick Remover for Humans, Tick Remover for Cats and Horses (Blue). £3.70

Best for both small and large ticks

  • Robust high quality plastic
  • Easy to use
  • Painless tick removal
  • Chemical free
  • Storage box included

Use this tick remover to simply twist off the offending parasite. It’s so quick and easy to use your dog probably won’t even notice. It can also be used on humans too.

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TRIX TICK LASSO REMOVER PETS & HUMANS DOG SAFE & EASY TO USE £8.90

  • Robust high quality plastic
  • Easy to use
  • Painless tick removal
  • Chemical free
  • Designed and made in Sweden

This tick remover helps to correctly grip the tick – you place the tip into the skin and apply slight pressure, then the lasso design pulls the tool into position automatically. The lasso loop apparently has a pull strength of more than 9 kilos – which should cover the ticks you are likely to come across. However it isn’t suitable for the large African cattle tick.

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Lifesystems Key-Ring Tick Removal Card For Dogs Or Humans, With Magnifying Lens £2.99

Best for finding  ticks without glasses

  • Dimensions: 54 x 36 x 1 mm
  • Weight 2g
  • Easy to use
  • Durable, lightweight and pocket sized
  • Suitable for humans and pets

This tick remover has a handy magnifying lens so you can see the tick more closely. There are two tick remover slots – for both larger and smaller ticks. We think this would be good to have along with one of the other tick removers on this page, so you can use the magnifier in one hand and the tick remover in another.

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Mudder 2 Pieces Tick Removers Stainless Steel Tick Tweezers Double Sided Tick Remover Tool for Humans, Dogs, Cats £6.99

Best double action tick removers

  • Dimensions: 14 cm long
  • Double sided design – one side tick remover, other side tweezers
  • Use pointed side to hook and tweezers to clip ticks out
  • Comfortable grip, lightweight and portable
  • Easy to use
  • Easy washed stainless steel material
  • Suitable for humans and pets

Lyme Disease Action is a fan of stainless steel tweezers, saying they can ‘be washed easily. They are also easier to use on a hairy being than the plastic hook types which need twisting.” This option gives you the best of both worlds – a hook remover and tweezers.

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And finally

Kerry-based stalker and Shooting Times contributor Barry Stoffell warns: “Ticks are a big deal for stalkers here. Tick management has become an increasingly important part of stalking here in Ireland – we certainly have plenty of ticks here, and Lyme disease is definitely a potential issue.

“Since not being bitten in the first place is the best protection, I always stalk in long sleeves and trousers. I use spray-on permethrin treatment on my gear, which can be a bit tricky to get hold of and usually comes from the US but works fine if it’s done regularly (around 6-weekly applications).

“Notwithstanding the steps I take to avoid picking up a passenger from the grass and scrub I hunt through, most ticks that get onto me come from the deer carcass itself; I always wear gloves nowadays (of the latex/surgical kind) for gralloching and carcass extraction. Even being vigilant there will inevitably be some ticks that slip through the net, and a daily tick-check is pretty important – I tend to do this before bed with the help of my wife who is very diligent, driven I am sure in part by an aversion to sharing the bed with a potentially dangerous arachnid, even if it’s currently feeding on me! Even with all these steps, I find and remove maybe half a dozen ticks from myself during the course of the stalking season, but I hope that almost all of these would have bitten me less than 24 hours ago and therefore carry a reduced risk of transmitting Lyme disease.
“I am probably almost as likely to pick up a tick from one of the dogs as I am from a deer carcass; untreated, the setters would be crawling in them. Fortunately, we found a good solution to this – a terrific chewable tablet called ‘Bravecto’ at the local chemist.”