Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



Advisor/Committee Chair

Michael Gerdes

Committee Member

Gowri Shankar


Thus far, there has been little research on the parasitic biodiversity in wild reptiles, particularly in India. Research has been done on the parasite diversity of certain species, such as the King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) and the Spectacled cobra (Naja naja), however these samples were purely from captive animals (Rajesh, 2015). This gap in knowledge is important to address because of how critical parasites are to the ecosystem and understanding their host population (Hudson, 2006). Parasites are some of the most biodiverse organisms, yet there is little work done to describe them in biodiversity hotspots such as the Western Ghats rainforest (Hudson, 2006). Additionally, conservation of snakes in India is critical as they protect agriculture sites from detrimental rodents (Tripathi, 2014). In order to address this, a physical examination was performed to evaluate ectoparasites of the King cobra, Spectacled cobra, and Indian rat snake. In addition, an in-depth analysis of internal parasites was done by collecting fecal samples and examining for parasite eggs using a formalin ethyl-acetate sedimentation technique. Eggs, oocysts, and larval parasites were identified via microscopy. If deceased individuals are found, a necropsy was performed to examine and collect digestive samples that cannot be analyzed using a formalin sedimentation or stain, as well as respiratory parasites. This research is significant as it can provide important health information on the species an provide cryptic information on how climate change and human interaction is impacting the health of a species by disrupting host-parasite dynamics. This study would provide extensive information on an unknown host-parasite dynamic, which would provide a foundation of knowledge on host-specific and generalist parasites of the snakes.

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