Tick infestations on small mammals were studied from April to November, 2010, in deciduous woodland in southern England in order to determine whether co-infestations with tick stages occurred on small mammals, a key requirement for endemic transmission of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). A total of 217 small mammals was trapped over 1,760 trap nights. Yellow-necked mice (Apodemus flavicollis) made up the majority (52.5%) of animals, followed by wood mice (A. sylvaticus) 35.5% and bank voles (Myodes glareolus) 12%. A total of 970 ticks was collected from 169 infested animals; 96% of ticks were Ixodes ricinus and 3% I. trianguliceps. Over 98% of ticks were larval stages. Mean infestation intensities of I. ricinus were significantly higher on A. flavicollis (6.53 ± 0.67) than on A. sylvaticus (4.96 ± 0.92) and M. glareolus (3.25 ± 0.53). Infestations with I. ricinus were significantly higher in August than in any other month. Co-infestations with I. ricinus nymphs and larvae were observed on six (3.6%) infested individuals, and fifteen small mammals (8.9%) supported I. ricinus — I. trianguliceps co-infestations. This work contributes further to our understanding of European small mammal hosts that maintain tick populations and their associated pathogens, and indicates that co-infestation of larvae and nymph ticks does occur in lowland UK. The possible implications for transmission of tick-borne encephalitis virus between UK ticks and small mammals are discussed.
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Vol. 42 • No. 1