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View Full Version : Zombie rats: Parasite lures rodents to their death



bijou
08-23-2011, 09:13 AM
A parasite that turns rats into zombies and manipulates them into losing their fear of cats has been uncovered by scientists.

Cat urine normally acts as natural deterrent to rodents, who are keen to keep their distance from their natural predators.

But researchers found that Toxoplasma-infected male rats exposed to cat urine suffered an increased activation in the brain regions involved in sexual attraction.

At the same time, the brain regions that govern fear were paralysed, as expected.
Danger zone: A parasite that turns rats into zombies and manipulates them into losing their fear of cats has been uncovered by scientists



Co-study author Robert Sapolsky, a professor of neuroscience at Stanford University, said: 'Normally, we would expect Toxoplasma to knock out the normal fear function in the brain, but in these rats the parasite also tapped into the sexual arousal pathway, which is strange.'

Toxoplasma requires the cat digestive system for sexual reproduction.

By not only reducing a rat's fear of the smell around cats, but also attracting them to it, the parasite makes the rodent far more susceptible to being killed by a cat.

This therefore enables the completion of the parasite's life cycle.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2028805/Zombie-rats-Parasite-leads-rodents-death-making-sexually-attracted-smell-cats.html#ixzz1VrDmBi7d

Maybe not quite as exciting as advertised. :D

SarasotaRepub
08-23-2011, 05:17 PM
:lol:

noonwitch
08-24-2011, 11:49 AM
I like the idea, but what effect is it going to have on cats who eat their victims? My cat never ate mice, she just played with them until they died from exhaustion and blood loss. My friend's cat, on the other hand, would eat the heads and leave the bodies.