Ticks definitely don't swim!

January 12, 2017

Here's a question we get occasionally: Can ticks swim or do they drown?

A related comment that recently came in: I've heard that ticks can hold their breath for up to an hour and possibly longer?

Oh, really? TickEncounter isn't aware of any "formal" research on either subject specifically but here's what we've observed in our research labs over many years:

  • Ticks definitely do not swim!
  • Ticks (at least various stages of deer ticks) can be submerged in water for 2-3 days and seem to survive just fine.

Why is this important to you and your pets? Part of getting TickSmart is re-framing how people think about ticks, and in this case, a common misperception that ticks will be killed - in the bath, -by swimming, -in the washer, -in the hot tub, -etc. NONE of these "treatments" seem to have a deleterious impact on ticks.

On the other hand, flushing a tick down the toilet should be the last you'll see of that critter. Ticks don't drown easily but they don't swim either, making flushing them down the toilet a perfectly safe means of disposal.

TickSmart  Tip:  Tape the tick, especially those found on family members, to an index card with the date and location it was found. Hang on to the card for 6 months or so, just in case unusual symptoms appear. That way you can always have the tick tested for pathogens... or, for show & tell.