Control ectoparasites in wild reptile populations
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Although the effects of parasites, such as ticks and mites, on their hosts are often undetectable, there can be serious adverse health effects of high parasite burdens, including reduced reproductive output and increased mortality (Wall 2007). Treatments, developed primarily for domestic animals, may be administered to wild reptiles to reduce parasite burdens. The administering of such treatments, though, can be challenging.
Wall R. (2007) Ectoparasites: future challenges in a changing world. Veterinary Parasitology, 148, 62–74.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A controlled study in 2004 and 2007 in laboratory conditions in South Island, New Zealand (Hare et al. 2010) found that treating mites on wild-caught pregnant female McCann’s skinks Oligosoma maccanni with vegetable oil improved pregnancy success and offspring viability. When mites were treated with vegetable oil, the majority of wild-caught pregnant female McCann’s skinks gave birth successfully (22 of 30 skinks completed pregnancy successfully, 2 of 30 skinks had partially successful pregnancies), whereas when mites were not treated, most pregnancies were not successful (1 of 17 skinks had a partially successful pregnancy). Female McCann’s skinks treated for mites produced more viable offspring (2.6 offspring/female), compared to when mites were not treated (0.1 offspring/female). Two weeks after initial treatment with oil, 14 of 30 female skinks showed signs of mites still being present. After 28 days (and two treatments of oil), no live mites were observed. In October 2004 and 2007, pregnant female McCann’s skinks were taken from the wild and maintained in controlled temperature and lighting conditions in individual containers (2004: 17 individuals; 2007: 30 individuals; see original paper for details). In 2004, all skinks had scale mites and were not treated. In 2007, all skinks were treated for mites using sunflower oil following capture. Skinks were checked for mites and retreated with oil as necessary on the 14th day (all skinks oiled), 28th (only those skinks with raised scales were re-oiled) and 56th (no skinks were re-oiled) day following capture.Study and other actions tested