There’s a whole world of weird and scary creatures out there and they’re looking for a home with YOU! Be very afraid…
1. The pacu, aka the nutcracker or ball cutter fish
A little while ago, The Sun newspaper had the scary (and hilarious) headline, Testicle-eating South American fish heading to river near you. Known for its gnashers, which bear a scary resemblance to human teeth, this native of the Amazon and relative of the piranha can grow to 90cm and weigh 55lb. Pacu have been seen in the Seine, near Paris, and it’s feared they may turn up in our rivers, following other sightings across Europe. However, the experts at National Geographic reassure us that scientists say its testicle-tackling tricks are a tall tale. Still, chaps, perhaps it’s best to wear your sturdiest pants if you take a river dip.
2. The brain tapeworm
Something on your mind? The most common form of brain tapeworm is the pork tapeworm – Taenia solium. Taeniasis, the intestinal infection transmitted by the adult worm, is a condition caused by eating undercooked pork. Once you consume the wrigglers, they can move throughout your body – your eyes, your tissues and most commonly your brain. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘wiggle room’!
3. The Brazilian Wandering spider
Deadly ‘Viagra’ spiders in Tesco bananas. So ran the headline in the Mail Online. A Bristol woman found the deadly Brazilian Wandering spider cocoon on bananas, shipped from Costa Rica, that she bought in a supermarket in Pontardawe, South Wales. The spider is the most venomous in the world and its bite can be lethal – and it killed 14 people until an antidote was found in 1996. The venom causes extreme pain and inflammation, loss of muscle control and breathing problems, resulting in paralysis and eventual asphyxiation. And the spider’s bite can cause an unwanted erection in men, sometimes lasting for four hours…
4. The bot fly
The human bot fly is a big, hairy critter that looks like a bumblebee and is native to Central and South America. The larva can infest the skin of mammals and live out its larval stage under the host’s skin, causing painful fluid-filled pustules. Travellers are known to bring the parasite back with them from Central and South America. And removing the hungry larva is as revolting as the pest itself! Watch it being removed from a girls scalp here…if you dare!s
5. The candiru
This tiny, parasitic catfish from the Amazon Basin finds its way into undesirable places to suck blood. Translucent and very fast, it attaches itself to the gills of larger fish by its sharp spines. It’s claimed the candiru is attracted to the scent of urine, and will try to take a direct route to reach its source by swimming up through the stream of pee to head into the urinary tract where it permanently lodges itself to feed on blood. The worst part of this claim is that, if true, the candiru will stay there until it’s surgically removed, as its spines prevent forcible removal. Wee-ers beware!
6. Screw worm
The screw worm isn’t really a worm, but a type of fly. To find its host, an adult female seeks out exposed flesh to lay its eggs. It prefers wounds, but may also choose the eyes, nostrils, or anus of its victim. Next, 200-or-so eggs hatch, and the larvae burrow into their host’s flesh, where they continue to feed and grow. Eventually, this creates a whole lot of festering and oozing for the host, which attracts more flies, which lay more eggs, which do more feeding and burrowing. Screw worm larvae are reportedly capable of consuming the likes of an entire sheep – from the inside out – in five to seven days.
7. Filarial worms
Filarial worms are round, threadlike parasites that travel from human to human, via mosquito. They grow into larvae within a mosquito’s muscle fibres and are then themselves injected into new hosts by the mozzie. Once in a human home, they often lodge in the body’s lymphatic system, where they can inflict any number of unpleasant symptoms, such as massive and debilitating enlargements of the legs and genitals.