Within North America, northern (Glaucomys sabrinus) and southern (Glaucomys volans) flying squirrels occupy distinct ranges with limited overlap. Sympatry in northern latitudes coincides with northern hardwood vegetation from Minnesota to New England. Strongyloides robustus is an intestinal parasite that infects both species but appears to be deleterious only to northern flying squirrels. As a result, S. robustus could be a critical determinant of flying squirrel population characteristics in at least some areas of sympatry. However, cold weather could potentially limit the distribution of S. robustus in northern climates. Therefore, we assessed fecal samples from both flying squirrel species to determine the presence of the nematode in Wisconsin. Strongyloides robustus was found in 12 flying squirrel scat samples and infected 52% of southern flying squirrels and 11% of northern flying squirrels. Prevalence of S. robustus infection for northern flying squirrels was substantially lower than previously reported from more southern regions. This is the northernmost documentation of S. robustus in flying squirrels and the first documentation of S. robustus parasitizing flying squirrels in Wisconsin.
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Vol. 40 • No. 3