EleFact Friday: Don’t Get Ticked Off

From the biggest of animals to the smallest of insects, we cover it all on EleFACT Fridays. Many of you may be extra vigilant in the warmer months when it comes to pets and ticks, and we are especially careful when it comes to the elephants here in Brazil as well. 

Elephants do tend to get ticks, especially in areas where the skin is thin and protected, like the ears, on their bellies, their armpits, and near their vulvas. We often check the elephants for ticks, especially in situations where it’s easy to take a look, like when they come to the fence to say hello. An interesting fact about the sanctuary in Brazil is that Lyme Disease does not exist here. There is actually limited evidence of elephants getting any type of tick-borne disease, although cases of Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Babesia do seem to affect African elephants (the study is linked below). It’s possible that even if we were in an area where Lyme Disease or other tick-borne diseases were prevalent (like back home in Tennessee), the sanctuary elephants would not be affected. However, the elephants here do occasionally get tested for these diseases when we take blood. The other animals here at the sanctuary aren’t as lucky, as the dogs have gotten Ehrlichia in the past, a disease transmitted by ticks, but that generally responds well to treatment. 

Photo of Rana



  1. REPLY
    Merry says

    I am trying like mad to be able to identify individuals. I have created a personal page with close-ups that you have posted, with names, but still the differences are sometimes illusive, especially depending on the available light, I think. Do you use freckle patterns to help? I am sure behaviors, which we of course cannot see for long, are a good means of identification. Thanks for all you are doing.

    • REPLY
      Kat Blais says

      it’s easy when you know them, for the staff in the US, ears are the most definable feature.

  2. REPLY
    Merry says

    PS: I have never been good with human faces either.

  3. REPLY
    Angie Gibson says

    I don’t think we can all say thank you enough for taking such excellent care of the Ellies and all the creatures there, big and small. Lyme disease is awful and it’s a relief to know you don’t have it there where you live in Brazil. And the elephants know how to soak in mud to keep those ticks off. Now all I wonder is….along with all the TLC you provide , do you lullaby these babies to sleep (on the other side of the fence) like precious Lek? Watching a huge, magnificent elephant drift off into sweet slumber to a lullaby is one of the most magical scenes I’ve ever watched! I realize things are done differently over in Asia for many reasons, but I would imagine elephants everywhere would enjoy soft music or being sung to every now and then , at least the ones who are close to their human caretakers.

    • REPLY
      Sara says

      We don’t sing or play music for the elephants. Part of our sanctuary philosophy is to keep their environment as natural as possible, which means as little human interference as possible. But I’m sure they find lots of comfort in each other and all the other beautiful sounds of nature that surround them.

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