Cottontail Rabbit’s Unremoved Facial Tick: Why Not Scratch It Off?

As a wildlife photographer living in Arkansas, I often have the pleasure of observing cottontail rabbits in my backyard. These plump, furry critters with white tails are a common sight here. However, I’ve noticed that ticks are also a common issue for the local bunny population.

Back in May 2021, I captured an image of a baby cottontail with a tick lodged on the back of its head (Cottontail Rabbit With A Tick). At the time, I figured the awkward placement made it hard for the bunny to groom the tick off itself.

Fast forward to today, and I’m sharing a new photo of a young cottontail with a large, swollen tick clinging to the side of its face (see below). While the tick is in a spot that seems like it should be easy for the rabbit to scratch off, it’s still firmly embedded.

A Young Cottontail Rabbit With A Tick

A Young Cottontail Rabbit With A Tick

I’m not sure why some ticks are able to hang on so stubbornly even in easy-to-reach places. Maybe this rabbit is especially tolerant of the itchy parasite? Or perhaps the tick has a strong hold with its mouthparts sunk into the skin.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear ticks are an ongoing nuisance for the local cottontail population. As a wildlife lover, I hate to see these rabbits suffering itchy, blood-sucking passengers. But as a nature photographer, I can’t help but document the relationship between rabbits and ticks in my own backyard.

Fortunately, my dog and I have never brought home ticks from the yard. But I’ll be sure to keep an eye out and take precautions, as ticks are so prevalent in this area.

Have you noticed ticks on rabbits or other wildlife near your home? I’d love to hear about your experiences with suburban ticks in the comments!

Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer

Equipment Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM

Technical Details:

  • Location: Lavaca (Arkansas)
  • Date and Time Taken: September 6, 2023 (08:35 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f7.1
  • Shutter speed: 1/800
  • ISO: 12800 (Auto)
  • Exp. Comp.: +0.3
  • Focal Length: 500 mm