Raccoons (n=590) were collected from October 1999 to August 2003 from 35 counties across Texas, and gastrointestinal tracts were examined for helminth parasites. Prevalence was calculated and differences in mean abundance were examined among habitat ecoregions, age classes, and between sexes. Twenty different species of helminths (13 nematodes, two cestodes, two acanthocephalans, and three trematodes) were positively identified in the gastrointestinal tracts of 590 raccoons in Texas. Five of the 20 helminth species collected (Physaloptera rara, Placoconus lotoris, Molineus barbatus, Atriotaenia procyonis, and Macracanthorhynchus ingens) had a prevalence >20%. The total number of individuals of these five species (n=22,777) accounted for over 86% of the total number of individuals of all helminth species (n=26,426) collected. Subsequent analyses were based on these five helminths. Mean abundance differed among habitat ecoregions, age classes, and between sexes for all five parasites evaluated. This study is the most comprehensive statewide survey ever done of gastrointestinal helminths of raccoons across Texas. The five most prevalent helminths identified have all been reported in at least one previous survey, indicating that these parasites are not new to Texas and that raccoons are not naïve to the effects these parasites have on them. It may be helpful to wildlife rehabilitators, trappers, wildlife biologists, and other professionals to be aware of parasite abundance in raccoons from different areas of the state, as frequent human–raccoon interactions occur, and some of these parasites could be harmful to humans and domestic animals.
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Vol. 45 • No. 1