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J Helminthol. 1999 Dec;73(4):289-94.

Helminth parasites of the wild rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus near Malham Tarn, Yorkshire, UK.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Salford, UK.


Between 1992 and 1996, 95 rabbits from the immediate locality of Malham Tarn, North Yorkshire, UK were examined for the presence of helminth parasites. All the examinations took place in late September or October. Three species of nematodes, Graphidium strigosum, Passalurus ambiguus and Trichostrongylus retortaeformis and two species of cestodes, Taenia pisiformis and Cittotaenia pectinata were identified. There were no associations between helminth species richness and year of sampling, host weight or sex. A logistic model was fitted to the prevalence data from these helminths as was an over-dispersed Poisson model to the worm burden data. Graphidium strigosum was the most frequently identified species with an average prevalence of 78%. The mean prevalence and intensity of Graphidium infection were significantly effected by sampling year. The lower than normal rainfall recorded at the Tarn during the years 1995 and 1996 may have be one reason for this pattern. The worm burden of G. strigosum was significantly positively associated with rabbit body weight. The intensity of infection with P. ambiguus was significantly higher in female rabbits. There was a significant non-linear relationship between P. ambiguus worm burden and rabbit weight (P = 0.002) with worm burdens being highest in the 1000 g to 1499 g weight cohort. Trichostrongylus retortaeformis was only identified in 1994 and male rabbits harboured significantly higher worm burdens than females (48 vs. 7, P = 0.022). Over the five years, the average Taenia pisiformis prevalence was 31% and there was a significant positive association between worm burden and rabbit weight (P = 0.001). Cittotaenia pectinata had a prevalence of 37% over the whole study period with no interactions between prevalence or intensity and body weight, year of sampling or rabbit sex. All five helminths showed an overdispersed distribution with k values less than 1.

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