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GOANNAS AND THE SECRET LIVES OF ARMPIT TICKS



Did you know that many medium to large goannas are host to the blood-feeding arachnids we know as ticks?

The Northern Territory is home to more species of goanna than anywhere else in the world so it is no wonder that Dr Stephen Barker, a parasitologist from the University of Queensland, is interested in the goanna collection held at MAGNT.

Eloise Wigger, MAGNT Technical Officer, has been busy picking ticks from the “armpits” of goanna specimens which will be sent to Queensland for further study. Questions this collaboration will help to answer include:

Which tick species are host specific, feeding on just one species of goanna?

Which tick species feed on many different species of goanna?

Ticks that feed on different species are of particular interest as they are capable of transmitting disease from one species of goanna to another. This is one example of how museum collections contain a variety of information that often leads to new and exciting discoveries.