Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Skinks, Lizzards, and Lyme Disease

 This Northern Prairie Skink was on the pavement a few feet in front of the entry doors at Springbrook a few days ago.  I put it on some tree bark to photograph it and was surprised to notice a Deer Tick, or Black Legged Tick, attached and behind the right front leg. These ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans.

Prairie Skinks are fairly common lizzards found in this area.
 This one is an adult and about 8 inches long.  I was surprised to see the Deer Tick on this lizzard, as I was not aware that these ticks feed on reptiles. 

With a little research I discovered it is common for them to feed on reptiles, and even more surprising, researchers have discovered that western fence lizzards have a protein in their blood that kills the Lyme disease bacteria.

So, if an infected tick, as a young nymph, first feeds on a lizzard, it will be free of Lyme bacteria and will not transmit the disaese to us, or anything else, later on, according to the researchers.

I hope more research proves skinks have the same bacteria killing protein, since western fence lizzards don't live around here.

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