A study of the parasitic fauna of North American spotted skunks (genus Spilogale) across the eastern and central United States
To date, few studies exist on the extent of the parasitic fauna found on and within spotted skunks (genus Spilogale). Most research has focused either on skunks from a portion of their range, or on a specific parasite group, creating a bias towards heterogeneous sampling efforts and incomplete sampling. As such, the goal of this project is to report on the parasite community of spotted skunks, Spilogale interrupta, S. leucoparia, and S. putorius, collected across their ranges. Skunks collected represent nine states and were obtained from vehicle-killed animals, mortalities from previous research projects, donations from natural history collections, and legally harvested animals by fur trappers. We found 62 out of 73 hosts from seven states parasitized by ectoparasites, identifying five species of fleas (Orchopeas howardi, Ctenopthalmus sp., Echidnophaga gallinacea, Pulex irritans, and Xenopsylla cheopis), one genus of lice (Neotrichodectes sp.), one mite species (Haemolaelaps glasgowi), and two genera of ticks (Ixodes texanus and Rhipicephalus sanguineus). We found 46 out of 49 hosts from nine states parasitized with endoparasites and identified two species of acanthocephalans (Macracanthorhynchus ingens and Pachysentis canicola), two genera of cestodes (Mesocestoides variabilis and Taenia sp.), and five species of nematodes (Baylisascaris columnaris, Capillaria putorii, Crenosoma mephitidis, Physaloptera maxillaris, and Skrjabingylus chitwoodorum).