Like all living organisms, ticks take in nutrients and eliminate waste. Ticks attach themselves to their hosts to suck blood. As their bodies expand and become engorged with blood, the tick eliminates wastes, which tumble onto the host's skin. Tick droppings contain dangerous bacteria that cause Lyme disease. After feeding on a host, the ticks drop to the ground, leaving only a reddened spot where they were attached and excrement in their wake.
When removing a tick from yourself or your pet, pluck the pest by the head using a tweezers, not your fingers. Even if the tick doesn't actually bite you, contacting the fecal matter on the skin with your finger transfers any bacteria or other pathogens in the fecal matter -- including Borreilia burgdorferi, the bacteria that transmits Lyme disease. Swab the area of the skin where the tick was attached with antiseptic to remove the fecal matter and wash your hands thoroughly after you are done.
- Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases: Borrelia Burgdorferi Visualized in Ixodes Scapularis Tick Excrement by Immunofluorescence
- Find a Vet: How to Tell the Difference Between a Flea Bite and a Tick Bite
- Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center: Detection of Borrelia Burgdorferi DNA in Tick Feces Provides Evidence for Organism Shedding During Vector Feeding
- Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images