Parasitological findings in the invasive California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae) in Gran Canaria, Spain.
The California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae), native to North America, is a significant threat to the conservation of endemic species in the Spanish Macaronesian island of Gran Canaria. However, its role disseminating potential invasive parasites, such as zoonotic pentastomids, has not been proven. Among its parasitic fauna, only protistans have been documented, in contrast to other Lampropeltis spp., which are known to carry pentastomids. Thus, a parasitological study is urgently required. Between 2016 and 2018, a total of 108 snakes were necropsied and stool samples examined. A single snake was infested with Ophionyssus natricis, and another individual with Serpentirhabdias sp. Only this latter snake presented gross lesions, characterized by granulomatous pneumonia. No Pentastomida were found. By contrast, almost the entire population (98.5%) was infested with larval helminths (three different nematode and two cestode species), characterized by granulomatous gastrointestinal serositis. This suggests the snake poses a 'dead end' host for local parasites. Based on these findings, snakes in Gran Canaria carry potential zoonotic mites, which along with Serpentirhabdias sp. could represent a threat to endemic lizards. The presence of metazoan parasites and their lesions are reported for the first time in the California kingsnake.