Pet Parasite Detective

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This activity (on pages 19-25) is about fleas and ticks, which are common pet parasites. Learners first examine preserved tick and flea specimens under a magnifying lens and compare them for similarities and differences. They next examine a live pet -- brought in and supervised by an Adult Volunteer -- using a flea comb to search for fleas. Finally, learners create a drawing or comic strip showing how an animal becomes the host of a family of fleas or ticks, based on lists of given facts. The introductory "What We Know" section offers suggestions on preventing pets from getting parasites.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • 4 plastic flea combs
  • 1 plastic pipet or dropper
  • Vials of fleas and ticks
  • tape
  • 2 small jar lids
  • rubbing alcohol
  • Adult volunteer with pet dog or cat on a leash and an old blanket or towel
  • 2 magnifying lenses
  • centimeter ruler


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Biodiversity

Informal Categories

  • Animals


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Designed specifically for

  • Rural dweller

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Girls

    • Explicity developed for this group


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • University of Nebraska State Museum; Nebraska Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development

Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All rights reserved, University of Nebraska State Museum, 2001

Funding Sources:

  • NSF Informal Science Education Program, 9909496
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute