The introduced black rat, Rattus rattus, occurs throughout the native range of the raccoon roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonis, and might incorporate into its life cycle if rats consume parasite eggs, acquire viable infections, and are eaten by raccoons. Although rats forage at raccoon latrines, their role in B. procyonis transmission remains unknown. Here I tested the potential for rats to amplify B. procyonis transmission in California by surveying wild rodents for B. procyonis and conducting scavenger trials with the use of motion-activated cameras. Rattus rattus were infected with B. procyonis at intensities more than 100 times greater than that of co-occurring native Reithrodontomys megalotis and Peromyscus maniculatus. Rodent carcasses were scavenged by opossums, skunks, and raccoons, suggesting that these rodents, particularly R. rattus, contribute to B. procyonis transmission in this coastal California ecosystem.
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Vol. 103 • No. 6