Ectoparasite diversity on rodents at de Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape Province
Fleas, lice, mites and ticks were collected from 41 Rhabdomys pumilio and seven Otomys irroratus at De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The aims of the study were firstly to quantify parasite abundance and to record the species richness on the rodents. Secondly to record the parasite species that were shared between R. pumilio and O. irroratus and thirdly to compare the parasite abundance on R. pumilio between localities of varying antelope activity. Each rodent was individually examined under a stereoscopic microscope and its parasites were removed, counted and identified to species level. The parasite species included seven flea, one louse, nine mite and 10 tick species. Three undescribed mite species were also recovered and new locality records were obtained for six flea, two lice, two mite and one tick species. Several flea, mite and tick species were shared between R. pumilio and O. irroratus. Both the mean abundance of the total ectoparasite burdens and the mean tick abundance were significantly higher on R. pumilio individuals that were trapped in habitats preferred and occupied by large antelope species compared to habitats in which antelope were absent or rarely present.