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Original Research

Ticks of four-toed elephant shrews and Southern African hedgehogs

Ivan G. Horak, Shaun Welman, Stacey L. Hallam, Heike Lutermann, Nomakwezi Mzilikazi

Onderstepoort J Vet Res; Vol 78, No 1 (2011), 3 pages. doi: 10.4102/ojvr.v78i1.243

Submitted: 01 November 2010
Published:  17 March 2011


Several studies on ticks infesting small mammals, including elephant shrews, have been conducted in South Africa; however, these studies have included only a single four-toed elephant shrew and no hedgehogs. This study thus aimed to identify and quantify the ixodid ticks infesting four-toed elephant shrews and Southern African hedgehogs. Four-toed elephant shrews (Petrodromus tetradactylus) were trapped in dense shrub undergrowth in a nature reserve in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal. They were separately housed, first in cages and later in glass terraria fitted with wire-mesh bases to allow detached ticks to fall through for collection. Southern African hedgehogs (Atelerix frontalis) were hand caught on a farm in the eastern region of the Northern Cape Province and all visible ticks were collected by means of tweezers while the animals were anaesthetised. The ticks from each animal were preserved separately in 70% ethanol for later identification and counting. The immature stages of five ixodid tick species were collected from the elephant shrews, of which Rhipicephalus muehlensi was the most common. It has not been recorded previously on any species of elephant shrew. Three ixodid tick species were collected from the hedgehogs. Large numbers of adult Haemaphysalis colesbergensis, which has not been encountered previously on hedgehogs, were collected from these animals. Four-toed elephant shrews are good hosts of the larvae and nymphs of R. muehlensi, and Southern African hedgehogs are good hosts of adult H. colesbergensis.

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Author affiliations

Ivan G. Horak, University of Pretoria
Shaun Welman, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Stacey L. Hallam, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Heike Lutermann, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Nomakwezi Mzilikazi, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa


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