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Parasites of the roughtail gecko, Cyrtopodion scabrum (Sauria: Gekkonidae), from Galveston, Texas.

ABSTRACT. -- Thirty-five roughtail geckos, Cyrtopodion scabrum, from Galveston County, Texas, were examined for ecto- and endoparasites. Twenty-seven (77 percent) had one or more parasites, including 27 (77 percent) with oxyurid nematodes, Parapharyngodon cubensis, 13 (37 percent) with a coccidium, Eimeria lineri, and six (17 percent) with pterygosomatid mites, Geckobia sp. Prevalence varied; eight (57 percent) of the immature and 19 (90 percent) of the adult C. scabrum harbored parasites; 71 percent were males and 86 percent were females. This report is the first time C. scabrum has been surveyed for parasites. Key words: helminths; nematodes; coccidia; mites; parasites; roughtail gecko; Cyrtopodion scabrum.

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The roughtail gecko, Cyrtopodion scabrum (Heyden, 1827) is a small Old World gekkonid lizard that ranges naturally from Egypt, south to the Sudan and east into India (Marx, 1968). The species has been inadvertantly introduced into the New World, and first was collected in North America less than a decade ago at the Port of Galveston, Galveston County, Texas (Selcer and Bloom, 1984). It since has become an established colonizer in the Galveston area as breeding colonies have been reported (Bloom et al., 1986).

Although related gekkonids have been surveyed for parasites (Auffenberg, 1980; Durette-Douset, 1980; Pozio et al., 1983; Gramiccia et al., 1985), nothing has been published to our knowledge on either ectoor endoparasites of C. scabrum. We recently had the opportunity to examine specimens of introduced C. scabrum from Texas for parasites.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

In October 1989, and again in September and October 1990, we collected 35 (14 hatchling or juvenile and 21 adult) C. scabrum. These included 21 males and 14 females ([bar.x] [+ or -] SD snout-vent length 39.3 [+ or -] 7.7, range 22-50 mm), which were taken in and around buildings and commercial shipping docks at the Port of Galveston (29[degrees]15'N, 94[degrees]45'W). Individual geckos were shipped to the VA Medical Center-Dallas within 24 hours and killed with an overdose of sodium pentobarbital (Nembutal[R]). Blood samples were taken from the exposed heart and prepared for examination of hematozoa by staining with Giemsa. The gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to rectum was removed, slit lengthwise, and examined for helminths. Feces were collected from the rectum and placed in individual vials containing 2.5 percent aqueous (w/v) [K.sub.2] [Cr.sub.2] [O.sub.7] and examined for coccidia following methods of McAllister et al. (1988). Other organs, including the heart, lungs, liver, and gonads were examined for free or encapsulated helminths. Nematodes were killed in hot alcohol-formalin-acetic acid (AFA), transferred to 70 percent ethanol and studied as temporary mounts in glycerol. Mites were stored in 70 percent ethanol until they could be cleared in lactophenol and slide-mounted in Hoyer's medium. They are temporarily retained until completion of their study, after which they will be deposited in the Florida State Collection of Arthropods, Gainesville, Florida 32602. Other parasites are deposited in the U.S. National Museum Helminthological Collection, USDA, Beltsville, Maryland 20705 as follows: Eimeria lineri (USNM 81428); Parapharyngodon cubensis (USNM 81429). Voucher specimens of C. scabrum are deposited in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213 (CM 118830-118849, 121568-121582).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Twenty-seven (77 percent) C. scabrum were infected with one or more endoparasites, including 27 (77 percent) with Parapharyngodon cubensis and 13 (37 percent) that harbored an eimerian morphologically indistinguishable from Eimeria lineri. Six geckos (17 percent) were infested with mites of the genus Geckobia. Thirteen (37 percent) of the C. scabrum were multiply infected with E. lineri and P. cubensis, four (11 percent) harbored both P. cubensis and Geckobia sp., and two (six percent) had all three parasites. Blood samples were negative for hematozoa or apicomplexans.

Prevalence of infection varied between the sexes and different size-age classes. Fifteen (71 percent) of the males and 12 (86 percent) of the females harbored parasites ([X.sup.2] = 2.09, 1 df, P > 0.15), whereas eight (57 percent) of the immatures (including one hatchling) and 19 (90 percent) of the mature C. scabrum were infected ([X.sup.2] = 3.57, 1 df, P < 0.06). These data are similar to those reported for other lizards where no significant difference in infection was found between the sexes, although larger and, therefore, older (mature) lizards often have a significantly higher prevalence (McAllister, 1990a, 1990b, 1990c; McAllister and Trauth, 1985).

Eimeria lineri McAllister, Upton, and Freed, 1988 (Fig. 1) originally was described from introduced Mediterranean geckos, Hemidactylus turcicus (Linnaeus), from Houma, Louisiana, and Houston, Texas (McAllister et al., 1988). Since then, the coccidium has been found in additional introduced populations of H. turcicus, including three of nine (33 percent) from Galveston (McAllister, unpublished observation) as well as native populations from Israel (Paperna and Landsberg, 1989). The infected C. scabrum included hatchlings, juveniles, and adults (eight males, five females; snout-vent length 43.2 [+ or -] 5.6, range 35-50 mm). McAllister et al. (1988) reported that younger H. turcicus harbor E. lineri, whereas older adults are infected with Eimeria turcicus Upton, McAllister, and Freed, 1988. However, unlike E. lineri, E. turcicus is apparently host specific and even when C. scabrum and H. turcicus occur in sympatry (at Galveston), this coccidium was not found in C. scabrum.

[FIGURES 1-2 OMITTED]

Selected measurements of sporulated oocysts (N = 10) of E. lineri from C. scabrum are as follows (length times width means followed by ranges in parentheses in [micro]m): oocysts 23.2 X 17.2 (22-24 X 16-18); bilayered wall 1.0; shape index (length/width) 1.3 (1.3-1-4); sporocysts 9.0 X 7.8 (8.8-9.2 X 7.2-8.8); shape index 1.2 (1.0-1.3); wall 0.5 thick. Most measurements accord well with those reported from other hosts and geographic localities (McAllister et al., 1988; Paperna and Landsberg, 1989). However, this may be the result of difference in patency.

Paperna and Landsberg (1989) proposed two new genera of coccidia from reptiles to accommodate new and previously described eimerians, which undergo endogenous development either in the gall bladder (Choleoeimeria) or in the intestinal epithelium (Acroeimeria). Their rationale for proposing Choleoeimeria was based solely on the mode of endogenous development in the gall bladder, which involved a "unique form" of host-parasite relationship whereby there is hypertrophy and displacement of the host cell. In addition, Acroeimeria was reported to have endogenous stages, meronts, and gamonts developing at the microvillus zone of the host cell and enclosed within the microvillus boundary, extending above the intestinal mucosal surface. However, we do not accept these criteria as sufficient enough characteristics to warrant generic status and, therefore, place both genera in synonymy with Eimeria.

The most common parasite of C. scabrum was the oxyurid nematode, Parapharyngodon cubensis [syn P. senisfaciecaudus cubensis (Barus and Coy Otero, 1969a) Barus, 1973]. In addition to observing ova (Fig. 2) in feces, worms were found in the colon and rectum of 15 (71 percent) of the male and 12 (86 percent) of the female C. scabrum (snout-vent length 50.0 [+ or -] 5.9, range 26-50 mm). The mean intensity was 3.7 [+ or -] 2.6, with a range of one to 12 worms per host. Except that one juvenile harbored the largest infection, regression analysis revealed a positive correlation (r = 0.55, 2 df, P < 0.0005) between increase in snout-vent length and a higher intensity of P. cubensis (Fig. 3). This nematode is known to infect various lizards of the families Iguanidae, Gekkonidae, and Teiidae from Cuba (Barus and Coy-Otero, 1969a, 1969b; Barus, 1973; Coy-Otero and Barus, 1973, 1979; Adamson, 1981). However, none of the nine necropsied H. turcicus found in sympatry with C. scabrum harbored this nematode.

[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]

Selected measurements of five male and female P. cubensis are as follows (length times width followed by ranges in [micro]m in parentheses, except where noted): male body length 1.5-2.5 mm, maximum width 279-310; buccal cavity length 12-15; esophageal bulb 85-97 X 74-102; spicule 90-116; lateral alae from anus 800-813; female body length 5.0-6.0 mm, maximum width 657-673; tail length 137-149; caudal appendage of tail 75-77; ova 81-103 X 48-59. These measurements are within ranges reported by Barus and Coy-Otero (1969a), except that spicule length is somewhat larger in the present study.

One hundred ninety-two adult and immature Geckobia sp. Megnin, 1878, were collected from folds around the axilla (Fig. 4) and eyelids (Fig. 5) of six C. scabrum. Mites of the family Pterygosomatidae previously have not been reported from C. scabrum and these specimens probably represent a new species. Although H. turcicus shares the same microhabitat with C. scabrum at collecting localities noted herein, to date none (50 examined) has been found to be infested with mites. The genus Geckobia occurs only on lizards of the family Gekkonidae and is distributed widely from southern Europe, throughout all of Africa and Asia, to the South Pacific (Hirst, 1917, 1926; Lawrence, 1936; Domrow, 1983). Five New World species have been described from Cuba, French Guiana, and Mexico (Floch and Fauran, 1955; Cruz, 1973; Hoffmann and Morales-Malacara, 1986).

[FIGURES 4-5 OMITTED]

In summary, new host and distributional records are reported for parasites of C. scabrum. As with introduced H. turcicus from Texas (Upton et al., 1988), parasites reported herein are thought to have been imported with their gekkonid host into Galveston via ships originating from the Old World or the Caribbean. Whether any of these parasites are capable of infecting native lizards of the United States is yet to be determined. However, because oxyurid nematodes like P. cubensis are known to have direct life cycles, transmission to other lizard hosts may be possible.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We thank M. Sharp for assistance with collecting geckos. The first author thanks J. H. Johnson for providing laboratory space and supplies.

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CHRIS T. MCALLISTER, PAUL S. FREED, STEVE J. UPTON, DEBORAH A. BURDICK, AND NIXON A. WILSON

Renal-Metabolic Lab (151-G), Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 4500 S. Lancaster Road, Dallas, Texas 75216, Section of Herpetology, Houston Zoological Gardens, 1513 N. MacGregor, Houston, Texas 77030, Division of Biology, Ackert Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66506, Section of Veterinary Services, Houston Zoological Gardens, 1513 N. MacGregor, Houston, Texas 77030, and Department of Biology, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0421.
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Author:McAllister, Chris T.; Freed, Paul S.; Upton, Steve J.; Burdick, Deborah A.; Wilson, Nixon A.
Publication:The Texas Journal of Science
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:May 1, 1991
Words:2303
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