The present study used experimental infections to compare the life cycles and life histories of 6 Rhabdias spp. infecting snakes and anurans. Free-living development of anuran lungworms was primarily limited to heterogonic reproduction, and females utilized matricidal endotoky exclusively, whereas snake lungworms primarily reproduced homogonically and, when heterogonic reproduction occurred, females used a combination of releasing eggs and matricidal endotoky. Infective snake lungworms survived for longer periods in fresh water compared to anuran worms. Infective anuran lungworms penetrated into the skin of frogs and toads; few infections resulted from per os infections. In contrast, snake lungworms were unable to penetrate skin; instead, infective juveniles penetrated into snake esophageal tissue during per os infections. Despite separate points of entry, anuran and snake lungworms both migrated and developed in the fascia, eventually penetrating into the body cavity of the host. Worms molted to adulthood inside the body cavity and subsequently penetrated into the host's lungs, where they fed on blood while becoming gravid. Adult lungworm survival varied among lungworm species, but, in general, snake lungworms were longer lived than anuran worms. Anuran lungworms were poorly suited for transmission via transport hosts, whereas snake lungworms were consistently capable of establishing infections using transport hosts. Overall, these observations suggest that snake and anuran lungworms have discrepant life cycles and life history strategies.
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