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Investigating the relationship between feed and helminthic burden of captive birds of prey in Hong Kong

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  • Conflicts of interest: None.

Abstract

The life cycle of most parasitic helminthes is related to their hosts feeding habits. Thus we need to investigate the impact of diet on the host's helminthic parasite burden. Not many studies in captive raptors have been conducted and published regarding parasitic infections. The aim of this study is to evaluate the helminthic burden of raptors kept in captivity and establish a relationship with the feed provided. A total of N = 51 different species of captive birds of prey were fed different diets consisting in different combinations of day old chicks, chicken breast, whole chicken carcass and mice. Their feces were sampled and the parasite burden was determined. A negative binomial model was successfully fitted to the data and the feeds “mice” (P < 0.001) and “whole chicken carcass” (P < 0.001) significantly contributed to an increase in the observed burden. Significant differences were also found between species (P < 0.001). Raptors fed adult animal carcasses and offal may explain the increase in the observed burden as these feeds have a larger probability of being contaminated by a larger variety of helminthic fauna. Zoo Biol. 32:652–654, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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