The tongue-eating louse does exactly what its name suggests

The tongue-eating louse does just what its name implies
Zoomen this image toggle caption Galveston Island State Park Galveston Island State Park

It's science fiction or nightmares: A parasite that seeks to enter an animal's mouth and attack the tongue. This is the extremely specific and incredibly unpleasant job of the tongue-eating parasite.

The isopod does not have any effect on humans. The isopod does not affect the Atlantic croaker or other fish, as the Galveston Island State Park in Texas recently posted on Facebook.

The wildlife agency explained that the parasite "detaches the fish’s tongue, attaches to the fish’s mouth and becomes its tongue," referring to a photo of the parasite curled inside a Croaker's stomach. The parasite then feeds off the fish's mucus. This is the only case in which a parasite can replace an organ of a host.

Many commenters to the post stated that they have seen the tongue-eating louse for many years on fish in the Gulf of Mexico.

The parasite, along with the croaker is often found in the mouths sea trout and many snapper species, Mark Fisher (science director at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s coastal fisheries department) told Texas TV station KSAT.

These are isopod crustaceans that are related to the pill bug, also known as. Fisher said that you can also find rolly-pollies in your yard.

It appears that many parasites of the Cymothoa genus of louses use a similar strategy.

According to North Carolina Fishes, Menhaden fish often have their tongues replaced by an isopod. They're so common in snappers that the snapper-choking version of the louse is also known as this: Snapper-choking Isopod.


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