The crested porcupine Hystrix cristata is a large body-sized rodent, occurring in Europe only in the Italian Peninsula, where it may have been introduced in early Medieval times. Its parasite fauna is currently poorly known and limited to few anecdotal observations. We have analyzed the ectoparasite load of 165 crested porcupines from Tuscany and Latium (Central Italy). Both captured and road-killed individuals were checked for fleas and ticks. Overall, only 39 porcupines were infested by four species of ticks and five of fleas. Abundance of ectoparasites was higher in areas with higher habitat richness, with respect to densely wooded areas. The most frequent species was the flea Pulex irritans (25 %), whose prevalence peaked in winter probably because of optimal abiotic conditions in the porcupine’s den. The remaining species of both hard ticks (Rhipicephalus bursa, Pholeoixodes hexagonus, and Ixodes ventalloi) and fleas (Paraceras melis, Ctenocephalides canis, Dasypsyllus gallinulae, and Hystrichopsylla talpae), all with prevalence lower than 5 %, could be due to den sharing with other vertebrates, mainly carnivores such as, e.g., red foxes and badgers. The second most prevalent species was the generalist tick Ixodes ricinus (21 %). An adult male-biased parasitism for ticks has been detected, suggesting a possible role of testosterone related immune-depressive effect. The low richness in dominant ectoparasite species, built up by locally acquired generalist taxa, provides support to the allochthonous origin of this rodent in Italy.
|Titolo:||Ectoparasite load in the crested porcupine Hystrix cristata Linnaeus, 1758 in Central Italy|
|Citazione:||Mori, E., Sforzi, A., Menchetti, M., Mazza, G., Lovari, S., & Pisanu, B. (2015). Ectoparasite load in the crested porcupine Hystrix cristata Linnaeus, 1758 in Central Italy. PARASITOLOGY RESEARCH, 114(6), 2223-2229.|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|