Bloodsucking worms found in Florida rattlesnake species alarm researchers
Apr 17, 2019 | 0 |
(Fox News) – While examining a deceased pygmy rattlesnake last summer, a Florida professor and a biology fellow were stunned as they watched wiggling parasitic worms slowly emerge from the serpent’s open mouth. Dr. Terence Farrell, who teaches biology at Stetson University in DeLand, has been studying the venomous rattlesnake species for decades — and even he admits he found the scene “pretty alarming.”
“We conducted research and found that these types of parasites (pentastome) have never been found in pygmy rattlesnakes before,” Farrell said in a statement released by Stetson University on Friday. Since then, Farrell and his students have tested a total of three pygmy rattlesnakes and found the same type of bloodsucking parasitic worms in each of the reptile’s lungs and near their tracheas. The researchers then collaborated with the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine to conduct tests on the creatures’ DNA to determine how the parasites were being introduced.