Flea diversity on small carnivores in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa
Small carnivores are parasitized by various ectoparasites that include fleas (Siphonaptera). To date few parasite studies in South Africa, and especially the Northern Cape, have focused on fleas, while those that have are biased by small sample sizes. In an attempt to address the paucity of information fleas were collected from five small carnivore species trapped at Loxton and Kimberley in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. The aim of the study was to contribute to current data on the flea diversity found on various small carnivore species. Small carnivores were trapped and while anesthetized the fleas were manually removed from the fur of the animals. In total 48 small carnivores were trapped of which 30 harboured fleas. Of the five flea species that were recorded the most numerous and prevalent was Echidnophaga gallinacea followed by Ctenocephalides connatus and Ctenocephalides damarensis. Fleas were more numerous and prevalent on the small-spotted cat, Felis nigripes, followed by the yellow mongoose, Cynictispenicillata. The flea community on the small carnivores consisted of fleas that prefer carnivores as principal hosts and also fleas that prefer rodents. The latter maybe acquired through predation on rodents.
Key words: Siphonaptera, fleas, small carnivores, South Africa.