Parasites and Wild Felids Mr.Mittiga Marine Science
Parasites and Wild Felids Mr.Mittiga
This paper is about how parasites interact with wild felids, members of the cat family. This paper focuses on how harmful parasites are to felids and how these parasites are making it so some species of felids are experiencing difficulty with staying healthy. Felids need more attention and assistance with their parasite problems so they are able to thrive despite the freeloaders that are parasites harmful intrusions. These parasites are hard for felidae to deal with and they are unable to treat the parasites themselves. Some organizations have formed to help animals like these endangered Felids but humans have made it hard for the felids to overcome their struggles with parasites.
It’s interesting how Parasites are organisms that live on or inside other animals and often feast on them. Parasites are capable of controlling their hosts and altering their behavior. Many of these parasites lay their eggs in their hosts and after the larvae hatch they eat and kill the host. Some parasites aid their hosts. Parasites have been changing the behavior of animals since back in the times of the dinosaurs and they don’t seem to be going away any time soon. There are numerous dangerous parasites that are hard to treat or completely untreatable and a good deal of these same parasites inflict permanent damage on their hosts. Most people only know or care about parasites that affect people and not ones that affect other animals which is a shame because other animals suffer a great deal from the pain that parasites cause. Humans have been adding to this pain with climate change and overuse of land which add to the power of the parasites. Human interference paired with parasite pain is leading to a seemingly endless world of pain for felids.
Parasites stay with their hosts until death unless they are cured and their host is freed from its grasp. Parasites often end up changing their hosts so much that they end up changing the way that the hosts live and some of these parasites that can be deadly to other animals can also be very harmful to us also. In Colorado studies found that the bobcats, like the one shown in Figure 1, have been living in urban areas were transmitting parasites to nearby humans. Bobcat fecal samples showed that Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that has been linked to causing depression and schizophrenia, and other parasites were present which was then threatening the health of the humans in surrounding areas. However for humans affected by parasites that also are harmful to felidae like bobcats there’s less damage done. Toxoplasma gondii can cause severe brain damage in young felidae rendering them unprepared for the rigor of the wild.
Toxoplasma gondii infects felidae hosts when the cats eat infected animals like rats. Toxoplasma gondii’s goal is to reach cats so they can continue their reproductive cycle. Toxoplasma gondii makes non felidae hosts feel compelled to encounter felidae. Toxoplasma gondii increases testosterone levels in male rats which as a result decreases the amount of fear that these rats have for cats making it easier for the cats to prey on and for the parasites to get to their desired hosts. The parasite uses enzymes to affect the production of dopamine to manipulate its hosts and lower their defenses. The parasite changes the biology of its host and uses its skills of chemical manipulation to control its hosts. The parasite makes it so it is hard for the host to live comfortably and making it easier for the parasite to complete its life cycle.
Felids are the only animals that excrete Toxoplasma gondii eggs, which makes them valuable to the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. Scientists didn’t know until recently…