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Staying safe

The National Park is a fabulous place to visit but there are a number of things worth bearing in mind to make sure you and your family stay safe and healthy.


Ticks are found in the wooded and grassy areas of the New Forest and are most abundant in the late spring and summer.

They feed on the blood of passing animals including humans and sometimes cause Lyme disease or Alpha-Gal Allergy.

Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) has been detected in a small number of ticks in the UK in Thetford Forest and an area on the border between Hampshire and Dorset. Public Health England says the risk from TBEV to the UK population is currently assessed as very low.

You can reduce the risk of infection from ticks by:

  • keeping to footpaths and avoiding long grass when out walking
  • wearing appropriate clothing in tick-infested areas (a long-sleeved shirt and trousers tucked into your socks)
  • wearing light-coloured fabrics that may help you spot a tick on your clothes
  • using insect repellent on exposed skin
  • inspecting your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day, including your head, neck and skin folds (armpits, groin, and waistband) – remove any ticks you find promptly
  • checking your children’s head and neck areas, including their scalp
  • making sure ticks are not brought home on your clothes
  • checking that pets do not bring ticks into your home in their fur.

For further information and guidance about ticks, preventing bites and what to do if you are bitten visit NHS direct or the Public Health England website.


The adder is the only poisonous snake native to Britain. They are not aggressive and will only bite if they are disturbed. For more information visit NHS Direct. If you get bitten go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department.


Touching or feeding ponies and donkeys is banned. Failure to comply may result in a fixed penalty of £100 or being taken to court and a fine of up to £1,000.

Although ponies appear tame and are accustomed to people, they are semi-wild and may bite or kick, so please keep your distance and certainly avoid standing behind them. Feeding the ponies is banned because it encourages them to congregate on roadsides and in car parks. It may also make them aggressive and they become greedy and demand more food. There is plenty of natural food for them in the Forest.


Medicinal leeches are found in water in the New Forest so be aware if you go paddling.

National Park Member


'Your food and litter could harm the ponies and donkeys. Please take your litter home if bins are full.'

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