Evaluation of Horse Coat Color in Regards to Tick Preference
Ticks are a major ectoparasite known to vector a large variety of diseases to both humans and animals. Most tick species have a host species preference, however it is unsure if they have a color preference within that species. For this experiment, the prevalence of ticks on horses with specific coat colors in College Station was recorded in order to determine if certain tick species have a particular coat preference. During two days in mid-fall, ticks were collected from 15 horses of varying coat colors, such as chestnut, bay, paint, grey, black, and blue roan. Of the ticks collected, 77% were found on chestnut horse, 15% on the paints, and 8% on the grey-coated horses. No ticks were collected from the bay, black, or blue roan horses. All of the ticks collected were from the genus Ixodes sp., which could suggest that ticks from the genus Ixodes sp. have a coat preference towards chestnut horses. However, there was not a significant difference (p>0.05) between the number of ticks found on the various colors of horses, so the coat preference color could not be confirmed. Further experiments, such as testing the prevalence of ticks on different age groups in chestnut horses or other individual color groups, could potentially provide insight on what factors make certain horses more susceptible to ticks than others, and would allow improved care of those susceptible horses.
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