Investigation into the coccidia (Apicomplexa : Eimeriidae) within captive snakes of the genus Boiga (cat snakes)

Marsh, Jessica L.
Coccidia (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) are protozoan intestinal parasites that infect vertebrates around the world. However, little is known about the coccidia that infect reptiles and there is the potential finding many species unknown to science. Currently, there are 33 recognized snake species in the genus Boiga (cat snakes; Colubridae: Colubrinae) and to date, only one species of coccidia (Caryospora kalimantanensis) has been described infecting a captive Boiga dendrophila. In this study, fecal samples collected from 4 captive species of Boiga (B. cyanea, B. dendrophila, B. irregularis, B. nigriceps), 1 Gonyosoma oxycephalum, and 1 Gyalopion canum housed at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO were examined for potential infection with coccidia. After standard flotation, samples were examined using Nomarski interference-contrast optics light microscopy at 1,250x magnification. To date 10 of 19 individuals have been examined, with no oocysts found in these species. The lack of infection could be because this is a healthy captive population of snakes that are not infected with coccidia. However, coccidia have been found in other seemingly healthy captive populations and infections can be intermittent even in non-captive individuals so we cannot rule out the possibility of coccidia within this population until all samples have been examined.
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