In Germany there are different types of ticks that feed on people and numerous animals such as dogs and birds. This article will introduce you to the 8 most common types of ticks by color.

4 red to brown tick species

  • brown throughout, females mostly darker
  • size of about 3 mm
  • up to 12 mm after blood meal
  • Habitat includes dry and warm areas, not choosy about environment
  • only to be found in southern Germany, particularly often in animal shelters, with dog helpers or breeders,
  • was introduced from North Africa
  • The host is mainly the dog, other mammals including humans are rarely affected
  • Active all year round in heated rooms, otherwise only during hot summers
  • transmits numerous dog diseases

Fuchszecke (Ixodes canisuga)

  • Shield maroon colored with yellow body
  • Size from 2.5 to 3.2mm
  • up to 10 mm after blood meal
  • to be found in the whole German-speaking area
  • Hosts are primarily burrow dwellers such as foxes , badgers and small predators such as the stoat, dogs (especially hounds) and more rarely cats
  • stay in their buildings
  • Active all year round, especially in winter
  • Confusion with wood tick and hedgehog tick possible

Common Woodbuck (Ixodes ricinus)

  • most common tick species in Germany
  • reddish-brown body with black shield, solid black in males
  • gray when saturated
  • 2.4 to 3.6mm in size
  • up to 11 mm after blood meal
  • found in forests, forest edges, heaths, city parks, gardens, hedges and groves
  • distributed throughout the German-speaking area
  • Nymphs bite rodents, lagomorphs, birds and reptiles
  • adult woodbucks bite humans, dogs, deer, foxes, cattle, and horses
  • Active all year round in favorable weather
  • causes most tick bites per year
Note: The term ‘tick bite’ is often read in this context. This is simply wrong, because the tick has scissor-like mouthparts (chelicerae), but these only scratch the skin of the host before the proboscis (hypostome) is used for the sting.

Tropical tick (Hyalomma marginatum)

  • brown-red color
  • Legs in lighter colors with a ring pattern
  • 5 to 6 mm in size
  • up to 25 mm after blood meal
  • stays in close proximity to host animals
  • Hosts of the nymphs include insectivores, rodents, lagomorphs, bottom birds
  • Hosts of adult ticks mainly include cattle, rarely humans
  • mainly active from March to May, more rarely until autumn
  • tracks potential hosts up to 100 m for max. 10 min
  • originally from Africa, not the tropics
  • found sporadically in German-speaking countries since 2015
  • Northward migration due to global warming is expected
  • transmits Crimean-Congo fever and tick-borne spotted fever
Note: In addition to H. marginatum, another tropical tick, Hyalomma rufipes, can get lost in German-speaking countries. They look very similar and are difficult to tell apart, but H. rufipes is slightly rarer.

2 white to yellow tick species

Igelzecke (Ixodes hexagonus)

  • Females white-yellowish to milky-transparent, nape shield brown
  • male brown
  • Can be confused with common wood tick
  • Size from 3.5 to 4.5 mm, nymphs 1.2 to 1.5 mm
  • Size after blood meal about 10 mm
  • inhabits forests, urban areas, caves
  • often in close proximity to hedgehogs
  • found everywhere in Germany
  • primarily affects hedgehogs
  • Rodents such as mice, predators such as martens , deer, humans, livestock, dogs, and horses are also bitten
  • Active from March to November with a break in July

Taubenzecke (Argas reflexus)

  • yellowish to brown-red, faintly patterned
  • without shield (leather tick)
  • 4 to 8 mm in size
  • 10 mm after blood meal
  • stays in bird nests
  • native to all of Germany
  • Hosts primarily include pigeons , other birds are also bitten, e.g. B. Poultry
  • only sucks on humans or mammals in an emergency
  • then dies off after a short time
  • Activity dependent on the host, often all year round
  • does not transmit diseases to humans
  • can trigger allergic reactions up to anaphylactic shock
Note: Pigeon ticks are the most common type of tick in or on buildings, as many of their hosts are in urban areas. It is not uncommon for the animals to stray into human living quarters in search of a host.

2 multicolored tick species

Auwaldzecke (Dermacentor reticulatus)

  • Synonym: winter tick
  • Brown-red colored shield, white marbled with orange-red border
  • 3.4 to 4.8 mm in size, nymphs 1.4 to 1.8 mm
  • 10 mm after blood meal
  • lives in alluvial forests, mixed forests, moors, damp meadows, gardens and city parks
  • to be found all over Germany
  • Hosts are dogs, cattle, horses, deer, foxes, people
  • Nymphs bite rodents
  • Active from March to November with a break in July
  • considered a dangerous tick species for dogs (canine malaria)

Schafzecke (Dermacentor marginatus)

  • Synonym: spring forest tick
  • Spine label patterned (enamel) in red, dark gray and silver, shiny
  • rest of body reddish brown
  • Males patterned throughout
  • Nymphs completely white
  • 3 to 5 mm in size, nymphs 1.4 to 1.6 mm
  • up to 15 mm after blood meal
  • Habitat includes sheep and cattle pastures, forests, grasslands
  • Mainly found in southern Germany
  • primarily affects sheep
  • Dogs, cows, deer and humans are also bitten
  • Nymphs bite hares, moles and rodents
  • active from March to late April, early September to late October

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