Watch This Clever Crow Pick the Ticks off of a Wallaby, a Wilderness Win-Win!

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: May 31, 2023
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This looks like a one stop bar and grooming parlor. These lucky wallabies have been captured by a hidden camera taking a drink from a barrel. At the same time, some crows are leaning in and plucking ticks from their coat. As the video at the bottom of this page shows, sometimes one species will help out another and get benefit for themselves at the same time. In this case, the crow is removing an ectoparasite (the tick) from the wallaby and bagging a meal for itself!

What Is This Behavior Called?

Experts call this sort of behavior symbiotic cleaning. Any symbiotic relationship in nature is one where both of the participants gain some sort of advantage from it. According to commentators on this behavior, the crows in this clip are probably Torresian Crows. They are common in the northern part of Australia, Western Australia and are found in Papua New Guinea. They are a large, glossy black bird with shorter throat feathers and feed on grain, fruit and insects. Therefore, meeting this wallaby must be like being presented with a buffet that is laden with protein! It is also possible that they are playing or even sizing up the wallaby itself as a possible future meal. Crows feed on carrion too!

Ventral and dorsal view of a tick (Hyalomma sp.) isolated over a white background.

Ticks are arachnids and are related to spiders


What Are Ticks?

The crows have to pull on the ticks quite hard to get them out of the wallaby’s skin! Ticks are small arachnids so they are related to spiders, mites, and scorpions. They feed on the blood of larger animals and they do this by attaching themselves to the skin. However, they don’t just feed for a few minutes and then crawl off. They bury their curved teeth deeply into the skin. Ticks can stay like this for days and can be very hard to remove.

There are many different species of ticks but the one that is most often found on wallabies is the Common Kangaroo Tick, or Amblyomma triguttatum. They are also happy to feed on domestic animals and humans. The bite itself is not dangerous but it can become infected.

Watch the Fascinating Footage Below!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kevin Wells Photography/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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