Invasive Parasites: A survey of endoparasites in Salvator merianae populations in Florida

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Florida Southern College
The Argentine Black and White Tegu (Salvator meriane) is a large lizard native to South America that has been introduced to central and south Florida. With successful breeding populations in at least two locations, and the ability to acclimate to many temperate climates of the other southeastern states, it is becoming increasingly more important to monitor all biological aspects of this invasive lizard, including their parasites. No detailed published records exist on the endoparasites from these invasive populations. Thirty-one Argentine Black and White Tegus from central and southern Florida were necropsied to perform an extensive parasite examination of these invasive populations. The necropsies revealed that the tegus brought three species of exotic nematode to Florida from South America (Physaloptera tupinambae, Diaphanocephalus galeatus, Cruzia lauroi) and were also infected with Raillietiella orientalis, a pentastome introduced to Florida via invasive Burmese Pythons (Python bivittatus). The invasive pentastome is known to infect native snakes and cause harm to their respiratory tracts. It is unknown how the exotic parasites from the tegus will impact native Florida reptiles, however, the ability for R. orientalis to infect the Argentine Black and White Tegu could lead to the rapid spread of this invasive parasite throughout the southeastern United States.
Honors Thesis Spring 2021
Tegus, Introduced organisms, Parasites, Lizards