Parasite Tricks Male Rats Into Becoming Cat Food

Tom and JerryVia ScienceDaily:

When a male rat senses the presence of a fetching female rat, a certain region of his brain lights up with neural activity, in anticipation of romance. Now Stanford University researchers have discovered that in male rats infected with the parasite Toxoplasma, the same region responds just as strongly to the odor of cat urine. Is it time to dim the lights and cue the Rachmaninoff for some cross-species canoodling?

“Well, we see activity in the pathway that normally controls how male rats respond to female rats, so it’s possible the behavior we are seeing in response to cat urine is sexual attraction behavior, but we don’t know that,” said Patrick House, a PhD candidate in neuroscience in the School of Medicine. “I would not say that they are definitively attracted, but they are certainly less afraid. Regardless, seeing activity in the attraction pathway is bizarre.”

For a rat, fear of cats is rational. But a cat’s small intestine is the only environment in which Toxoplasma can reproduce sexually, so it is critical for the parasite to get itself into a cat’s digestive system in order to complete its lifecycle.

Thus it benefits the parasite to trick its host rat into putting itself in position to get eaten by the cat. No fear, no flight — and kitty’s dinner is served.

Read more here.

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11 Responses to Parasite Tricks Male Rats Into Becoming Cat Food

  1. Corycogg September 2, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Joe Rogan…

  2. Corycogg September 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Joe Rogan…

  3. ICE September 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    this old news…. like 60% of the population has this in their brains in schist form from handling cats and cat poo. There is also a theory that connects toxoplasmosis with schizophrenia and other behavior disorders that have not been fully studied and are not so obvious. If you have it and you immune system is compromised the parasite becomes active again and can kill.  If you have a cat you probly have it and it can cause birth complications in new infected prego women. 

  4. ICE September 2, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    this old news…. like 60% of the population has this in their brains in schist form from handling cats and cat poo. There is also a theory that connects toxoplasmosis with schizophrenia and other behavior disorders that have not been fully studied and are not so obvious. If you have it and you immune system is compromised the parasite becomes active again and can kill.  If you have a cat you probly have it and it can cause birth complications in new infected prego women. 

  5. ICE September 2, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasmosis   seems like it also  makes us  go a little insane in the membrane and then get brain cancer.

  6. Anarchy Pony September 2, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    Once again: Who’s really in control?

  7. Wanooski September 2, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    Once again: Who’s really in control?

  8. Wanooski September 2, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    Once again: Who’s really in control?

  9. Anonymous September 3, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    My cat says this is normal. he does seem to relish having an animal 20x his size watch over him though.

  10. Redacted September 3, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    My cat says this is normal. he does seem to relish having an animal 20x his size watch over him though.

    Edit: I just slapped him on the ass because I felt like it. Monkey is still running things.

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