Gray squirrels, Sciurus carolinensis, were livetrapped in 2 different habitat types, woodland (67 squirrels) and parkland (53 squirrels), in southeastern Georgia. Ectoparasites were recovered from anesthetized squirrels and compared between hosts from the 2 habitats. Because of the absence of low vegetation in parkland habitats, it was hypothesized that the ectoparasite fauna, especially ticks and chiggers, would be more diverse on woodland squirrels. The results were generally in agreement with this hypothesis. Seventeen species of ectoparasites were recovered from woodland squirrels, compared with 6 species from parkland squirrels. Five species of ticks and 3 species of chiggers parasitized the woodland squirrels compared with no ticks or chiggers on the parkland squirrels. Significantly higher infestation prevalences were recorded on woodland compared with parkland squirrels for the flea Orchopeas howardi, the tick Amblyomma americanum, and the mesostigmatid mite Androlaelaps fahrenholzi. The mean intensity for O. howardi also was significantly higher on woodland than on parkland squirrels. Because a new strain of Bartonella sp. was isolated recently from S. carolinensis in Georgia, selected ectoparasites from this study were screened for bartonellae by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Some of the fleas and lice, but none of the mites tested, were PCR positive, suggesting that fleas, or lice, or both, might be vectors of bartonellae between squirrels. Six distinct strains of Bartonella sp. were detected, 2 in fleas and 4 in lice.
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