The ear mange mite, Notoedres muris (Astigmata: Sarcoptidae), is a parasitic burrowing mite of black and Norway rats (Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus), which causes a proliferative dermatitis primarily affecting the ears. We characterize the ecology of N. muris in a group of black and Norway rats trapped in an inner-city area of Vancouver, Canada. Rats (n = 725) were trapped for 1 yr (September 2011–August 2012) in 43 city blocks (0.82 km2) and one property (0.03 km2) within an international shipping port at the northern border of the study area. Mite infestation was diagnosed in 15 of 32 rats (47%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 30.9–53.6%) trapped in a large indoor facility at the port property. No affected animals were identified outside this facility, either within the port property or in any of the blocks under study. There was a positive relationship between infestation and both weight and nose-to-rump length (proxies for age), suggesting transmission through intraspecific social contact within colonies. This is the first report of N. muris in Canada. The focal distribution of N. muris at the port may reflect an importation event.
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Vol. 50 • No. 1