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Category: Animals

5 Most Common Veterinary Parasites

Nothing can be quite as heartbreaking as seeing your furry friend scratch mercilessly throughout the day or not seem like themselves. One of the most common reasons that this can happen is because of common parasites, with almost every pet having to suffer from them at least once during its lifetime.

Thankfully, treatment (especially if done quickly) is available for just about every parasite. If you suspect that something is wrong with your pet, try to get them to the veterinarian to get treated as quickly as possible. They could be suffering from one of the more common veterinary parasites, with these five being the most frequently seen.

Tapeworms

Taenia, most commonly known as Tapeworms, is derived from the Greek word “tainia” meaning ribbon. Out of the 6,000 species of parasitic tapeworms, different varieties can affect humans, marine animals, vertebrates, and invertebrates. The most common version that plagues cats and dogs is called Dipylidium.

These animals typically become infected after accidentally eating a host (usually fleas) already carrying the parasites. The parasite latches onto the animal’s intestinal walls, where it lives and thrives until treated with medication. Surprisingly, they aren’t all that harmful and are more of a nuisance to the animals.  

Hookworms

Hookworms, specifically Ancylostoma Caninum, are blood-feeding parasites that infect some animals, like cats and dogs. Hookworms usually make their way into the intestines of said creatures by ingestion, sometimes from grooming their feet or sniffing contaminated soil and feces.  

The extremely small parasites hook their bodies onto the lining of the animal’s intestines, where they suck large amounts of blood from surrounding small blood vessels. Animals infected with hookworms can develop anemia, intestinal bleeding, dehydration, and diarrhea. Some animals develop anemia severe enough to require blood transfusions. Treatment includes being given anthelmintics to kill adult hookworms in the body.  

Heartworm 

Heartworm, or Dirofilaria immitis, is a serious condition affecting mainly dogs, cats, and ferrets.  The parasite is only spread through bites from infected mosquitos. The worms make their home inside the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels of the animals, creating what’s known as a “worm burden” consisting of many of the worms bunched together in the same area.  

Heartworms can live inside an animal for 5-7 years and can cause severe damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and other organs, ultimately ending the life of the host if left untreated. Treatment is expensive and consists of a series of injections of the FDA-approved drug “Melarsomine dihydrochloride” into the animal’s back muscles. The best treatment is prevention by way of topical, or oral medications.  

Fleas 

Fleas are the most common external parasite that affects mammals and birds alike. Pets can come into contact with fleas through contact with infected animals or their environment. Fleas are incredibly small and can jump nearly two feet at a time, making traveling from surfaces and hosts to unassuming victims extremely effortless. Fleas can spread tapeworms to their animal host and can cause hair loss, itching/biting, as well as pale lips and gums. 

Fleas consume almost 20 times their body weight in blood to survive, resulting in anemia and large amounts of blood loss in some animals, especially puppies and kittens. Treatment for fleas consists of topical and oral medications, medicated shampoos, sprays, and powders.  

Ear mites 

Ear mites, or Otodectes cynotis, are external parasites that can affect cats, dogs, ferrets, and rabbits. They live on the skin, or usually inside the host’s ear canal. The extremely small mites go easily unnoticed and spread through contact with an infested animal.  

Symptoms of animals with ear mites include rashes, blood blisters, discharge, and excessive scratching around the ears. Insecticidal medications are the common treatment for ear mites, as well as topical and injection medications.  

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Start Keeping Birds

A bird can be a wonderful friend, and you want to be one back. That means doing your homework before giving them a home. If you’re thinking about getting a bird soon, you should know that they require a very different approach than dogs, cats, or fish. Here are five tips for setting up a forever home for your bird friends. 

1. Birds Have Sensitive Beaks

Scented candles, oils, air fresheners, and other similar products endanger the health of birds. This is due to their delicate respiratory systems, which expose them to toxins and pollutants in the environment. As a result, smoking is not recommended when around a bird. Also, if you smoke, wash your hands before handling a bird.

2. Cooking Smells Count Too

The delicate sense of smell of a bird can also influence your cookware selections. Nonstick cookware and Teflon should be avoided if you have a bird in the house since they generate an odorless fume that can be lethal to them. You will most likely need to purchase stainless steel or nonstick cookware, such as cast iron.

3. Birds Like to Make Noise

That might be the biggest attraction for many people, but you should be aware that it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. Before choosing a bird, find out what noise that species makes. Birds may talk, sing, squawk, and make other noises depending on the species. Figure out what will work in your home, and then choose the bird that’s best for you.

4. Birds Live a Long Time

When you decide to adopt a bird, you are making a life-long friend. Some breeds live for 50 years or longer. Some species might outlive you. Knowing this is important because having birds can be expensive and they need plenty of care. Make sure you are prepared to commit before making a home for a bird. 

They do adapt to new environments, though. So any bird you adopt will change as your lifestyle changes. They will love the new baby, for example, or to have another friend in the house. They can move with you as you move, as well. They don’t take up much space and can live in an apartment or house. Just be sure you can provide a stable home for them for decades. 

5. Birds Can Be a Bit Messy

Birds tend to eat all day long and what doesn’t end up in their mouths ends up on the bottom of the cage or the floor around it. What does get to their mouths will also eventually end up on the bottom of the cage or the floor around it. 

They also like to chew on things. So give them plenty of things in their home to chew on so they won’t be tempted to look elsewhere.

If having a bird still sounds great, find yourself a fine feathered friend. 

 

Would Cockroaches Really Survive A Nuclear War? And 4 Other Weird Cockroach Facts

If you’ve ever had cockroaches in your home, you know that the critters are pretty darn tough to shake. It’s as though they can survive anything–which is a little surprising, if you think about their position on the food chain. But… could they survive a nuclear war? We’ve got the answer, along with a few other weird facts you never knew you wanted to know about these quick-footed pests. 

1. Yes, Roaches Could Probably Survive a Nuclear War

…at least for a little bit longer than humans. Roaches are several times more resistant to radiation than human beings–6-15 times more resistant, depending on the type of roach. In case of a major nuclear disaster or event, like a “nuclear apocalypse,” though, roaches would either die from the blast or eventually succumb to the effects of radiation, just like other living creatures. Also, because roaches tend to live off the detritus that other creatures leave behind, they likely wouldn’t fare for long without the rest of the world to supply their needs. 

2. Roaches Can Live Without their Heads

Cockroaches have an open circulatory system, meaning they take in oxygen through micro-holes in their bodies–so they don’t need their head to allow them to breathe. They can live for about one week after they’ve lost their head, at which point they will succumb to dehydration. 

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3. Roaches Can Go One Month Without Eating 

Most varieties of roaches can live for a month or longer without eating a morsel–but they do need water every week or so to stay alive. This is one reason pest control companies strongly recommend packing away every last crumb of food in the kitchen and throughout the home. Like beer? Make sure not to leave open bottles around the house or yard; like many humans, roaches are particularly fond of the hops/sugar combo. 

4.  The Biggest Cockroaches on Earth Have a Wingspan of 7 Inches

These roaches occupy tropical regions, and generally try to stay away from humans–they’re not the roaches you’ll find hiding under the furniture of the unwary homeowner (thankfully). The Australian rhinoceros cockroach, which is as strange-looking as it sounds, measures about 3 inches from head to behind and weighs as much as one ounce. Not a critter you’d want to encounter unawares. 

5. Cockroaches Can Be Trained

Unlike most insects, roaches have exhibited the ability to learn–and they learn quickly, after just one or two corrections. Of course, their capacity for learning is limited (scientists practiced training them to salivate when presented with certain smells). It’s also worth noting a roach’s quick ability to evolve resistance to pesticides (no wonder they’re so hard to evict once they’ve taken up residence in your domicile). 

Despite our general creeped-out reaction to roaches, they don’t generally pose a threat of any kind (though some do carry harmful germs and bacteria around human abodes). 

 

 

5 Pretty Gross Insect Facts

We all love bugs, don’t we? Actually, don’t answer that. It’s safe to say that a significant portion of people in the United States either can’t stand bugs or at least dislike them greatly. There’s plenty of reason for that, and it’s not just the aesthetic. Bugs are known to do some nasty things, even if it’s just to survive. If you’re looking for a few reasons why bugs are considered gross, here are some of the biggest ones.

5. House Flies Poop EVERYWHERE

We all have to deal with house flies, especially in the summer months. It seems that if you leave your door open for just a nanosecond, one or two of these little buggers sneak in and all of a sudden you don’t go fly-less in your house until winter comes. Every time you see a fly land, you might want to start retching, too. That’s because every time they land, house flies defecate. Not only that, but flies eat their own vomit as part of their liquid diet. Needless to say, these disease ridden pests are gross.

4. Cockroaches Have Milk

No matter how clean your house is, you might have a cockroach infestation, and it’s extremely annoying. Now, when we think of cockroaches,we think of scurrying and the gross little antennas. We don’t think about milk as that type of talk is reserved for cows or even goats. Cockroaches do produce milk, though, which is packed with calories and protein. In case you wanted to be even more grossed out, cockroach milk has been considered by some to be a superfood thanks to a recent study that showed the nutritional breakdown.

3. Caterpillars are Jacked

You might think you’re pretty strong, and there’s a good reason for that. After all, the human body consists of 629 muscles that help you to move around and lift heavy objects. What if I told you that a caterpillar makes you look like a weakling in terms of scale, though? It’s true, though, as caterpillars have 248 muscles, and that’s just in their heads. Overall, caterpillars have more than six time the amount of muscle as humans, totalling in at about 4,000.

2. Slugs are Super Stretchy 

Slugs are one of those gross looking little creatures that you don’t run away from, but you tend to not want to touch. Nobody can really blame you, as there are some weird things that slugs do. Not only do they leave behind a trail when they move (in their weird little way), but they are also incredibly stretchy. Slugs can squeeze through just about anything because they can stretch to 20 times their normal length. Oh, and by the way, they have about 27,000 teeth.

1. Praying Mantises Eat at a Weird Time

The mating ritual for a Praying Mantis is a pretty weird and morbid one. To attract a mate, a male mantis will literally fight a female. If the male wins, then they get to mate. The stakes for losing are incredibly high, though. That’s because the female will eat the male if he can’t show his prowess in battle. Why do the females do this? Well, for the nutrition while they’re pregnant, of course.

Attack of the Hammerhead Worm

Could your garden be doomed by a predator smaller than a drinking straw? If you’re unknowingly hosting the invasive hammerhead worm, the outlook could be grim, indeed.

You’ve likely heard of hammerheads, but you probably never expected to find one hanging out in your own backyard. Hammerhead worms feed just as aggressively as hammerhead sharks, though on a much smaller scale. But don’t let their size and innocent appearance fool you. Depending upon where you live, hammerhead worms may have already invaded your garden and begun wreaking havoc on your backyard ecosystem. And their favorite snack, unfortunately, is the common earthworm. Here’s why you don’t want to find the carnivorous hammerhead worm tunneling among the roots of your freshly planted garden.

So, Who Cares About Earthworms Anyway?

Earthworms are like tiny tillers, aerating the soil and leaving castings (worm poop) behind that is highly beneficial to plant life. Thanks to the common earthworm, tough, impenetrable soil becomes loose and well fertilized. This allows crops such as corn, wheat, and soy to flourish. It may also be why you have the prettiest roses on the block.

If the earthworm population were suddenly to vanish, life for humans could change pretty drastically. There would be less food produced, more pollution in our soils, and heavier flooding. Since the ancient days of Egypt, when earthworms churned and fertilized the soil in the damp river valleys along the Nile, earthworms have long been touted as one of the more influential species on earth.

And now they have a serious predator that’s completely capable of decimating the entire population. And it could be happening right beneath your feet. Enter the hammerhead worm.

Where Did the Hammerhead Worm Come From?

Hammerhead worms are native to Southeast Asia, but they’ve infiltrated other countries through the import of nursery plants. To date, hammerheads have been found in the United States in various southern states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. They’re carnivores whose preferred buffet is a nice, juicy earthworm. Just like the hammerhead shark, they’re especially aggressive hunters. Scientists think they’re capable of tracking earthworms beneath the ground. When they find one, they emit a deadly neurotoxin that causes paralysis.

What to Do If You See a Hammerhead Worm

Essentially, a hammerhead worm looks like a normal worm with the exception of its unusual, hammer-shaped head. Don’t handle it without gloves. Don’t feed it to pets or livestock, and don’t cut it into pieces. Like many worms, the hammerhead can reproduce asexually. So, if you cut it into three pieces, you’ll eventually be left with two additional hammerheads.

The Texas Invasive Species Institute recommends dowsing hammerheads in salt, vinegar, or citrus oil to kill them. Use gloved hands to place the worm in a plastic baggie and then add your killing solutions. Wash your hands well afterward.

Hammerhead worms may be the worst predators visiting your garden this year, so glove-up when you’re digging in the soil, and be on the lookout for the predatory hammerhead worm.