Severe parasitism by Versteria mustelae (Gmelin, 1790) in the critically endangered European mink Mustela lutreola (Linnaeus, 1761) in Spain

Parasitol Res. 2018 Oct;117(10):3347-3350. doi: 10.1007/s00436-018-6043-z. Epub 2018 Sep 4.


The riparian European mink (Mustela lutreola), currently surviving in only three unconnected sites in Europe, is now listed as a critically endangered species in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Habitat loss and degradation, anthropogenic mortality, interaction with the feral American mink (Neovison vison), and infectious diseases are among the main causes of its decline. In the Spanish Foral Community of Navarra, where the highest density of M. lutreola in its western population has been detected, different studies and conservation measures are ongoing, including health studies on European mink, and invasive American mink control. We report here a case of severe parasitism with progressive physiological exhaustion in an aged free-ranging European mink female, which was accidentally captured and subsequently died in a live-trap targeting American mink. Checking of the small intestine revealed the presence of 17 entangled Versteria mustelae worms. To our knowledge, this is the first description of hyperinfestation by tapeworms in this species.

Keywords: Critically endangered; Mustela lutreola; Physiological exhaustion; Severe parasitism; Spain; Versteria mustelae.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cestode Infections / epidemiology
  • Cestode Infections / parasitology
  • Cestode Infections / veterinary*
  • Endangered Species / statistics & numerical data
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mink / parasitology*
  • Platyhelminths / genetics
  • Platyhelminths / isolation & purification
  • Platyhelminths / physiology*
  • Spain / epidemiology