The Relative host status of rock elephant shrews Elephantulus myurus and Namaqua rock mice Aethomys namaquensis for economically important ticks

  • L.J. Fourie
  • L.G. Horak
  • J.J. van den Heever


Several tick species of medical and veterinary importance occur in the southern Orange Free State. The purpose of the present study was to determine the host status of rock elephant shrews ( Elephantulus myurus) and Namaqua rock mice ( Aethomys namaquensis) for these ticks. Infestation levels were used as a criterion. The seasonal abundances of the ticks as well as the effects of landscape topography and sex of the host on infestation levels were also investigated. Incidental observations were made on the pouched mouse (Saccostomys campestris). No adult ticks were recovered from any of these small mammals. Seven tick species were found on the elephant shrews of which only Ixodes rubicundus and Rhipicephalus punctatus occurred in high numbers on a large proportion of the animals. Both these ticks cause paralysis in domestic stock. The Namaqua rock mice harboured eight tick species. Only Haemaphysalis leachi/spinulosa and R. punctatus had a relative abundance exceeding 15%. Three of the 10 pouched mice examined were infested with small numbers of ticks. The 132 rock elephant shrews examined harboured a mean total burden of 121 immature ticks compared to four on each of the 321 Namaqua rock mice. The larvae and nymphs of I. rubicundus occurred mainly in the colder months (April to September), while those of H. leachi/spinulosa preferred the warmer months (October to March). Large numbers of larvae of R. punctatus were present from December to July and nymphs from August to October. Infestation levels of I. rubicundus were consistently higher on animals trapped on southern slopes than on those trapped on northern slopes. The sex of the hosts seemed to have little effect on infestation levels.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-073X
print ISSN: 1562-7020