Tapeworm Infection in Lagomorphs

Summary Information
Diseases / List of Parasitic Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names
  • Cestode Infection 
Disease Agents Anoplocephalid Tapeworms
Life cycle
  • Adults of all the tapeworm species listed above inhabit the small intestine of their definitive host - lagomorphs. (B614.11.w11)
  • Definitive hosts are infected by ingesting intermediate hosts (oribatid mites) that are infected with cysticercoids. (B24, B614.11.w11)

Raillietina tapeworms

The following tapeworms have been reported in wild lagomorphs of North America: (B614.11.w11)


Life cycle
  • Adults of all the tapeworm species listed above inhabit the small intestine of their definitive host - lagomorphs. (B614.11.w11)
  • Ants are the intermediate host for Raillietana loeweni. Infection of lagomorphs occurs via ingestion of ants infected with cysticercoids. (B614.11.w11)
Infectious Agent(s) Cestoda - Tapeworms (Class):
  • Anoplocephalidae - (Family)
    • Cittotaenia variabilis
    • Mosgovoyia pectinata americana 
    • Mosgovoyia perplexa
    • Monoecocestus americana 
    • Ctenotaenia ctenoides
    • Anoplocephaloides sp.
  • Raillietina (Genus)
    • Raillietana salmoni (=Raillietana stilesialla)
    • Raillietana selfi
    • Raillietana loeweni
    • Raillietana retractalis
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s) --
General Description
Clinical findings 

A significant burden of adult tapeworms may be associated with the following clinical signs:

  • Digestive disturbances, emaciation. Sometimes fatal. (B24)
  • Catarrhal enteritis (B614.11.w11)
  • Intestinal perforation (B614.11.w11)
  • Intestinal obstruction (B614.11.w11, J1.19.w15)
Pathological findings
  • With mature Cittotaenia variabilis tapewoms in the intestines, the intestine is dilated, having a flat, band-like appearance, and being an opaque-yellowish colour. (J40.4.w2)
  • In infection of Sylvilagus floridanus - Eastern cottontail with Cittotaenia variabilis and Raellietina stilesiella it was noted that petechiae were present associated with the cestodes. (J1.19.w15)
Further Information
  • Note: European rabbits and hares appear to be resistant to superinfestation with different Cittotaenia species, since in more than 1,000 dissections of these lagomorphs it was noted that usually a single adult tapeworm was present and occasionally two, but never two adults of different species, although an adult of one species and immature specimens of another species could be found. (J11.19.w2)
  • In a study of 968 Oryctolagus cuniculus - European rabbit in Surrey, England, 63 double infections were noted; 44 of these involved one Cittotaenia sp. plus Andrya cuniculi, the others involved two Cittotaenia spp.; three triple infections were noted. (J157.67.w1)
  • Praziquantel: 
    • This drug is reported to be highly effective against adult tapeworms, larval stages of some tapeworms, and some trematodes. (B614.11.w11)
    • 5 mg/kg is the recommended dose against intestinal tapeworms. (B614.11.w11)
    • The oral toxic dose of this drug has been reported to be 1000 mg/kg in rabbits. (B614.11.w11)
  • Benzimidazole anthelmintics:
    • These should be effective at doses used against Moniezia sp. (B24)
  • Tapeworm infections are not capable of spreading within laboratory animal facilities that are well-maintained. (B614.11.w11)
  • In a study in Oklahoma, USA, prevalence of Mosgovoia pectinata americana was significantly reduced in Sylvilagus floridanus - Eastern cottontail from herbicide treated pastures in winter, compared to those from untreated pastures. (J1.26.w14)
Associated Techniques
Host taxa groups /species
Disease Author Nikki Fox BVSc MRCVS (V.w103); Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referees William Lewis BVSc CertZooMed MRCVS (V.w129); Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior MA,PhD,DSc (H c: Mult) , AM(H c),DVM&S (H.c),DVMS(H.c) ,DVM(H,c) F.Med Sci.,Hon FRCVS F.Inst Biol. F.R.C.Path (H.c), DVSM, MRCVS (V.w135)

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