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Stool samples of 276 tortoises (T. hermanni, T. graeca, T. horsfieldii T. marginata) were microscopically examined. For this study a qualitative method (direct smear method) and, in 60 cases, a quantitative method (McMaster technique) was used.
Almost half of the tortoises were provable infected with oxyurids.
The oxyurids often co-existed with other tortoise-specific intestinal parasites.
The most common of them were flagellates and/or ciliates. There was a significant positive correlation between the number of oxyurid eggs found with the direct smear method and the EPG values. In addition, the examination focused on the possible connection between tortoise species, sex, age, the way of keeping them, their socialization, the reasons why stool samples were sent in, anamnesis, symptoms or the treatment with anthelminthics and coprological prevalence of oxyurids and partly also the intensity of egg excretion.
The study only found a significant statistical relation for age and anamnesis.
Juvenile tortoises were more frequently infected with oxyurids and this was closely linked to a higher degree of egg excretion.
Oxyurids were more often detected in animals that seemed to be healthy over the past six months than in animals that became sick during the same period. There are clear indications that tortoises infected with oxyurids show more often symptoms than non-infected animals and infected animals with symptoms show a higher egg excretion than infected tortoises without symptoms. The treatment with anthelminthics had a certain influence on the negative proof of oxyurids and on a reduced excretion of eggs.
A feeding trial was carried out with 15 juvenile Testudo graeca ibera that were split into an oxyurid-infected and non oxyurid-infected group. Even though the trial conditions were the same, the infected animals had an advantage regarding their nutrient intake, the development of their weight and apparent digestibility of most of the feed components.
One can only speculate about the reasons why this is so. One possibility could be that oxyurids brake up faecal matter or another one that they play an active role in the digestion of fibre.