Currently, my house is being overwhelmed by millipedes – but I’m not sure I’m ready to embrace the solution suggested by this Science Daily story. Seems that lemurs are munching on millipedes to treat problem parasites:
Madagascar’s red-fronted lemurs may have a secret weapon from nature’s medicine cabinet: millipedes. This is according to a study led by Louise Peckre of the German Primate Center at the Leibniz Institute for Primate Research in Germany.
Peckre and her colleagues observed five groups of red-fronted lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons) in Kirindy Forest on the African island of Madagascar. During several observations they noted that six animals in the groups were chewing on millipedes (likely Sechelleptus). These millipedes had emerged a few hours after the first heavy rain of the season. The chewing produced copious amounts of an orange-coloured substance which the researchers assumed was a mixture of saliva and millipede secretions. The animals then rubbed the area around their genitals, anuses and tails with the chomped millipedes. Quite a few millipedes were also swallowed after much chewing.
“Self-anointment combined with eating millipede secretions may be a way of self-medication by red-fronted lemurs,” says Peckre.
The researchers believe that the lemurs eat the millipedes specifically because they secrete benzoquinone, a substance that is also known to repel mosquitoes. Self-anointment in this way could help the animals cleanse themselves of parasites often found in their gastric system and intestines and, more specifically, Oxyuridae nematodes that are known to cause irritation around animals’ anus area.
Think I can get the kids to try it first?