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Endoparasites of brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) from the South Island, New Zealand

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As part of a study to assess whether endoparasites could assist in the biological control of brushtail possums in New Zealand, we investigated the composition and distribution of possum endoparasites in the South Island. Possums were collected near five of the original release areas in the South Island: Banks Peninsula, Hokitika, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill. Among the nematodes, those most frequently encountered were Trichostrongylus spp., which were present in possums from all five study areas. Trichostrongylus species from possums in the Invercargill area comprised 4.5% T. colubriformis, 0.9% T. vitrinus and 11.3% T. retortaeformis. Paraustrostnmgylus trichosuri and Parastrongyloides trichosuri were found only in the Invercargill area, where they infected 1.4% and 14% of possums respectively. The cestode Bertiella trichosuri was present in possums from all locations except Dunedin. The protozoan Eimeria spp. occurred in all areas. These are the first records of Parastrongyloides trichosuri, Paraustrostrongylus trichosuri, T. vitrinus, T. retortaeformis and Eimeria spp. in South Island possums. The prevalence of endoparasites and the intensity of infection was very low compared to the lower North Island of New Zealand. Endoparasites at the existing levels in the South Island probably have very little effect on possum populations.

Keywords: Cestodes; Gastrointestinal; Nematodes; Parasitology - internal; Possum

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: December 1, 1997

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