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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 58(4)

The role of host and environmental factors in the epidemiology of rumpwear in brushtail possums

J. Hufschmid A B C, K. A. Handasyde B and I. Beveridge A

A Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Melbourne, 250 Princes Highway, Werribee, Vic. 3030, Australia.
B Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: huj@unimelb.edu.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 58(4) 250-262 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO10030
Submitted: 29 April 2010  Accepted: 5 October 2010   Published: 4 November 2010


 
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Abstract

Rumpwear is a common, but poorly defined and understood disease of brushtail possums (Trichosurus spp.) in Australia and New Zealand, resulting in varying degrees of fur loss. Populations of Trichosurus cunninghami (mountain brushtail possum) and T. vulpecula (common brushtail possum) were studied over two years at Boho South (Victoria), to describe the disease, investigate its prevalence and explore its epidemiology. The main type of lesion observed was coat damage in the lumbo-sacral region, and increased severity of rumpwear was related to decreased coat length and increased hair breakage. Significant skin lesions were rare and hair breakage patterns suggested mechanical damage. Rumpwear was very prevalent in both T. cunninghami and T. vulpecula, but very severe rumpwear was rare. There was no true seasonal pattern to the prevalence of rumpwear in T. cunninghami and sex and habitat did not affect prevalence or severity. Prevalence and severity of rumpwear did, however, increase with age. There were no significant relationships between the number of previous captures or body condition index with rumpwear.



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