Dog Training World Forums General Dog Training Discussion Miscellaneous Parasite gives wolves what it takes to be pack leaders….Dogs? Reply To: Parasite gives wolves what it takes to be pack leaders….Dogs?

  • Arthur Lopatin

    November 25, 2022 at 1:58 pm

    Another account, with vids: <b style=”font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; color: var(–bb-body-text-color);”>A Mind-Controlling Parasite Is Making Yellowstone Wolves Foolhardy…And ironically making them into better leaders of the pack.

    See esp the boldfaced final par, just below

    ……The parasite can infect many different species, including humans—which is why pregnant women are advised to keep from scooping their cat’s litter. Some research suggests toxoplasmosis might modify our behavior by causing hormones like dopamine and testosterone to increase, but the only known host that allows it to sexually reproduce is the feline family that includes domestic cats—which means having a pet cat does raise the odds you might have <em style=”background-color: var(–bb-content-background-color); font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; color: var(–bb-body-text-color);”>Toxoplasma swimming around in your body. And once the parasite’s there, it might stick around for a lifetime, though people rarely display symptoms following the acute phase of infection.

    But the spikes in dopamine and testosterone caused by Toxoplasma are especially important to pay attention to in other intermediate host species, since they can induce a phenomenon that scientists really call “fatal attraction.” Toxoplasma-infected animals like rats and hyenas become bolder around felines, increasing the odds that they’ll be eaten and the parasite can reproduce.

    In other words, it would seem the parasite is trying to put its intermediate host in more dangerous positions where it’s likely to be snatched up by a potential true host.

    At Yellowstone National Park, it was a mystery how Toxoplasma was spreading to wolves, since they must ingest a form of the parasite called an oocyst, spread from a cat, to be infected. That is, until Meyer made the connection that a species of big cat roams the park: cougars. He and his co-authors believe that one aspect of wolves’ relationship to these cougars might look a lot like a dog’s household relationship to a cat.

    “Some dogs really like raiding the litter box if you don’t get to it fast enough,” he said. “We would expect that wolves are very similar where when they come across cougar scat on the landscape, they very well might eat it and become infected that way.”

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