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Parasite assemblages in the Western whip snake Hierophis viridiflavus carbonarius (Colubridae) from southern Italy

  • M. Santoro (a1) (a2), F.J. Aznar (a3), S. Mattiucci (a1), J.M. Kinsella (a4), F. Pellegrino (a5), P. Cipriani (a1) (a2) and G. Nascetti (a2)...

Abstract

Parasite assemblages of the Western whip snake Hierophis viridiflavus carbonarius were investigated from the Calabria region in southern Italy. A total of 14 parasite taxa including 6 nematodes, 3 acanthocephalans, 2 cestodes, 2 digeneans and a single pentastomid was identified. Within the study area, H. v. carbonarius serves as the final host for seven species of helminths, of which only four (Hexametra quadricornis, Kalicephalus viperae, Paracapillaria sonsinoi and Renifer aniarum) can be considered as snake specialists, while one (Oswaldocruzia filiformis) is shared with other reptiles and amphibians, and two (Paradistomum mutabile and Rhabdias fuscovenosa) with lizards. A large proportion of larval forms of six helminth taxa (about 95% of all helminths collected) was found, for which H. v. carbonarius serves as an intermediate and/or paratenic host; however, adult stages of helminths were prevalent in snakes with snout-to-vent length greater than 70 cm. Our results suggest that ontogenetic and ecological factors should exert a strong influence upon the helminth assemblage of Western whip snakes. We concluded that H. v. carbonarius plays an important role in southern Italy as an intermediate/paratenic host for species of helminths infecting vertebrate groups which may include this snake species within their feeding chain. Eleven taxa, including three potential agents of zoonosis, were added to the poorly known parasite fauna of this host.

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Parasite assemblages in the Western whip snake Hierophis viridiflavus carbonarius (Colubridae) from southern Italy

  • M. Santoro (a1) (a2), F.J. Aznar (a3), S. Mattiucci (a1), J.M. Kinsella (a4), F. Pellegrino (a5), P. Cipriani (a1) (a2) and G. Nascetti (a2)...

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