When you say the word “zombie,” people would automatically think something related to Halloween or Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” However, real life zombies exist in our nature every day. This might sound like something out of a fiction book, but zombie snails are very much real.
How to Turn Snails Into Zombies
Unlike in fictions, zombie snails will not hunt you for your brains. They are ordinary mollusks that are infected by a parasitic worm called leucochloridiumparadoxum, or the green-branded brood sac.
This type of worm can be found in bird feces which the snail ingests. Once the egg is inside, it develops into a sporocyst – a bunch of white tissue seated in the liver. It sits around the host’s body and absorbs the snail’s nutrients through its skin. It also castrates the snail, as the energy to produce sperm and egg are taken by the worm.
When the worm has grown, it takes over the snail’s eyestalks and control over its host’s mind and body. It completely alters the snail’s instinct to avoid dangers and predators. It makes its host expose itself on higher grounds during the daytime. It even dances inside the eyestalks, mimicking a caterpillar, in the hopes that a bird would eat it.
Nature is as Weird as a Sci-Fi Novel
Why does the worm want to be eaten? Well, it needs the bird’s stomach acid to for its reproductive cycle. Later on, the bird will defecate, releasing more worm eggs that snails would eventually ingest. And the circle is complete.
If that’s not weird enough, here is a little more trivia for you.
Birds don’t usually eat snails; it’ll only take their eyeballs which look like caterpillars. The snail will be left without sight, but it will survive. Over time, it will regenerate the lost eyestalks and regain the ability to reproduce. It will eventually become another potential host for the zombifying worms and even produce more potential hosts. And the cycle continues.
This just goes to show that real life nature can be stranger than fiction.