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Parasites of the Brazilian free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis (Chiroptera: Molossidae), from southwestern Arkansas.

The Brazilian free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis (I. Geoffroy) is one of the most widely distributed bat species in the Western Hemisphere (Wilkins 1989). In Arkansas, this bat has been reported from at least 14 counties of the state, mostly in the Interior Highlands of the Ouachitas, the West Gulf Coastal Plain, and the Delta or Mississippi Alluvial Plain (Sealander & Heidt 1990). This medium-sized molossid bat roosts in buildings, the undersides of bridges, and other man-made structures.

Although information is available on helminth parasites of this bat from the southern United States, particularly in Louisiana (Martin 1976), New Mexico (Cain 1966), Oklahoma (Nickol & Hansen 1967), and Texas (Jameson 1959; Ubelaker 1970; Martin 1976; Specian & Ubelaker 1976; Ritzi et al. 2001), nothing has been published on any parasites of these bats from Arkansas. This study presents data on some parasites of a small sample of T. brasiliensis from southwestern Arkansas.

On 29 January 2005, 10 adult T. brasiliensis were collected by hand from a nuisance roost in downtown Ashdown, Little River County, Arkansas (33[degrees]67'N, 94[degrees]13'W). Bats were returned alive to the laboratory and processed within 24 hr. Specimens were euthanized by cervical dislocation or exposure to ether and the pelage brushed for ectoparasites in an enamel dissecting pan. Mites were preserved in 70% ethanol and examined as temporary mounts on microscopic slides. The entire gastrointestinal tract (including the liver and gall bladder), coelomic cavity, kidneys, urinary bladder, and reproductive organs were examined for helminth parasites. Feces from the rectum were collected and placed in individual vials containing 2.5% aqueous potassium dichromate and examined by light microscopy after flotation in Sheather's sucrose solution (sp. gr. 1.18) (Todd & Ernst 1977). Intact cestodes were relaxed in cold tap water overnight, transferred to 70% ethanol for fixation, stained with acetocarmine, and mounted entire in Canada balsam. Nematodes were placed in a drop of glycerol on microscopic slides and identifications were made from these temporary mounts. Helminth voucher specimens were deposited in the United States National Parasite Collection (USNPC), Beltsville, Maryland, USA as follows: Vampirolepis decipiens (USNPC 95784), Molinostrongylus delicatus (USNPC 95785). Mite specimens were deposited in the Florida State Collection of Arthropods, Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A. Host voucher specimens were deposited in the Texas A & M University-Texarkana Collection of Vertebrates (TAMUT-CV, Texarkana, Texas, U.S.A.).

All 10 bats (100%) harbored parasites, including 10 infested with numerous immature and adult mites, Chiroptonyssus robustipes (Ewing), a single host (10%) with eight tapeworms, Vampirolepis decipiens (Diesing) in the small intestine, and seven bats (70%) infected with 35 nematodes (mean intensity = 4.5, range 3-12), Molinostrongylus delicatus (Schwartz) Travassos in the lower gastrointestinal tract. None of the bats harbored trematodes or coccidian oocysts in the feces.

Although no coccidian parasites (eimerians or isosporans) were isolated from this small sample of T. brasiliensis, that result may not be too surprising given previous surveys. Indeed, Duszynski et al. (1988, 1999) and Scott & Duszynski (1997) were unable to find coccidia in a total of 41 bats from New Mexico and Mexico, and McAllister et al. (2004) did not report coccidia in 10 T. brasiliensis from Oklahoma. For some unknown ecological reason, perhaps certain genera of bats in the family Molossidae may not be as suitable hosts of coccidia as are those of the family Vespertilionidae. Furthermore, in his summary of the coccidia of bats, Duszynski (2002) lists coccidians from 23 vespertilionid species compared to only five molossids.

Albeit this sample size is relatively small, not finding trematodes in this bat species is somewhat surprising. Ubelaker (1970) summarized the trematodes reported from T. brasiliensis and listed 10 species, six of which are Neotropical and also present in the Nearctic, but only within the range of T. brasiliensis. In addition, Guzman-Cornejo et al. (2003), who examined 98 T. brasiliensis mexicana from arid regions of central and northeastern Mexico, reported three digenean trematodes infecting their host sample. As further noted by Ubelaker (1970) the influence of migration on the trematode fauna of bats has not been investigated and, most notably, this bat is a strong migrant.

The macronyssid mite, C. robustipes appears to be a very common ectoparasite of T. brasiliensis. In the United States, there are numerous records of this mite from this host in Oklahoma (Radovsky 1967) and Texas (Randolph & Eads 1946; Eads et al. 1957; Jameson 1959; Radovsky 1967; Whitaker & Easterla 1975; Dooley et al. 1976; Ritzi et al. 2001), as well as Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Kansas (Radovsky 1967; Durden et al. 1992; Sparks et al. 2003). Other reports of the mite from T. brasiliensis outside the United States are discussed by Radovsky (1967). More recently, Guzman-Cornejo et al. (2003) reported C. robustipes from T. brasiliensis mexicana from Mexico. To the author's knowledge, this is the first report of this mite on any host from Arkansas.

The cestode, V. decipiens has been reported previously from T. brasiliensis from Florida (Foster & Mertens, 1996). This study documents this parasite species from Arkansas for the first time. Interestingly, McAllister et al. (2005) previously reported an immature Vampirolepis from Rafinesque's big-eared bat, Corynorhinus rafinesquii from another site in Little River County, about 35 km northwest of the Ashdown site noted herein.

The nematode, M. delicatus is a relatively common roundworm of T. brasiliensis. The species has been previously reported in T. brasiliensis from Florida (Foster & Mertens 1996), New Mexico (Cain 1966), Oklahoma (Nickol & Hansen 1967), and Texas (Jameson 1959; Martin 1976). This parasite has also been reported from the black mastiff bat, Molossus ater in Mexico (Cain & Studier 1974). This study reports this nematode from Arkansas for the first time.

In summary, this study documents three new geographic records for parasites from the Brazilian free-tailed bat. This report represents the fourth paper on parasites of bats from Arkansas (see McAllister et al. 2001; 2004; 2005). Additional surveys on parasites of other species of bats of the state are recommended to add to the growing knowledge of this important aspect of their ecology.


We thank the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for Scientific Collecting Permit No. 021520051, issued to the senior author. The senior author also thanks Stephanie Thomas (Little River News, Ashdown, AR) for first alerting him to this nuisance colony and Jon Fuller for assistance in collecting and necropsies.


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CTM at

Chris T. McAllister, Charles R. Bursey and Nixon Wilson

Department of Biology, Angelo State University

San Angelo, Texas 76909

Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University-Shenango Campus

Sharon, Pennsylvania 16146 and

Department of Biology, University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614
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Title Annotation:GENERAL NOTES
Author:McAllister, Chris T.; Bursey, Charles R.; Wilson, Nixon
Publication:The Texas Journal of Science
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Feb 1, 2006
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