Toxoplasma Heaven

Those of you who’ve read Peeps will no doubt remember toxoplasma gondii, the cat-borne parasite that can infect humans and change their personality. An old pal of mine, science journalist and blogger Rebecca Skloot, is a bit of an expert on toxoplasma, having written this article on whether the parasite causes “crazy cat-lady syndrome.” Fascinating stuff.

She’s just posted this charming video of a possibly toxoplasma-positive rat who LOVES its little cat friend.

For those of you who haven’t read Peeps, toxoplasma controls its rat host’s brain, making the poor creature seek out cats in hopes of getting eaten. This is because toxoplasma can only reproduce itself in the stomach of a cat. But as Rebecca points out, if the cat takes the pacifist route and simply refuses to eat the rat, it can stay uninfected.

Your move, Mr. Parasite.

In Other News

Justine is blogging writing advice for all of January. Many great posts and lots of good discussion about point-of-view, generating ideas, and how to get unstuck.

Stephenie Meyer fansite Twilight Moms has declared my Midnighters series its Book of the Month. Join the Twilight Moms discussion here. (Well, you have to be a mom, or at least 25, or married to be a Twilight Mom, but you can always read the discussion.)

163 thoughts on “Toxoplasma Heaven

  1. ya cat would do that to
    one time we were raking leaves
    and we raked up a dead rat
    it was very very disscusting.
    He never ate them though(but he was getting old)

  2. i don’t have a cat…or a rat…or an octopus, for that matter.
    i REALLY don’t want to take finals this week…

  3. happy monday everyone!!!! i hate mondays because monday is the 1st day back 2 school after the weekend.=D

  4. I’ve dealt with dead rats before… not really rats, they were lab mice… and it was during dissection practical in biology.

    Nice drawings, T&Z, love them alot.

  5. Kait-wa: (says) Narnia is real. (shes next to me.)

    At my school, people dissect cats. Weird.

    Tally&Zane: Amazingly Fawesome pictures!!!

    CullenMindcaster: (awesome name) And I’ll be sure to check out the site later.

  6. Andrea-la: I’m glad to see that you’re feeling better about your god stuff. Yay! And hey, since when has logic ever made sense?

  7. GAH!!

    How dare you people hate twilight and how dare you hate Jacob!


    Sorry people I just want to scream at someone I’m so sorry it had to be you.
    The Twilight Movie sucked like monkey poo (ha as I listen to the soundtrack rob pattinson is not my version of edward) again as i listen to Never Think By none other than rob pattinson

    okie dokie

    I dyed my hair burgundy it looks freakish awsome

  8. I disected a chicken arm today ok I’m reading breaking dawn so before I get into it vote should I continue or not? (yes i will follow your advice)
    Should I write in Aliza’s point of view or Tally’s?Aliza = is main character (or was if you vote tally) BTW *the book i’m writing*

    Should I continue to read BD?

    Should I read Eragon? I got it today but don’t know if I should waste my time.


  9. Eclipse: The Twilight movie was a train wreck. (wholly) But I thought the books were good (up till BD.) Though, the best part of the whole movie was Emmett in his ghetto out fits!

  10. BD is pretty good Up to the end. And yes you should read it so you appreciate the other books a whole lot more.

    All my friends (that’ve read it) really enjoyed Eragon, so sure.

    I would do Aliza ’cause it’s fun to mix it up!!

  11. Eclipse (Mrs. Emmett Cullen Jacobs Black): Wow, that’s a long name to type.
    You should Definitely read Eragon. It’s a really, really good book. Plus it’s one of my favorite books to re-read.

    Click my name.

  12. I didn’t like Breaking Dawn at all. Except for when Alec came in cuz he has the most frickin awesome power EVER. Eclipse(…) How could you LIKE Jacob?! EW. He’s an evil narcissistic self-pitying arsehole that for some reason everybody either loves or feels bad for. UGH. Sorry, no offense to you. I have crazy friends that like Jacob, so I don’t have a problem with it real, I just don’t get it…yuck.

  13. i think it was either in bogus to bubbly or on this site that scott was talking about octopi having super awesome camoflauge and it said in parentheses “(that person sitting next to you? secretly an octopus).” and i kept telling people that today. a few of them looked at me funny, one looked at the person next to me and said “well, that explains a lot…”

  14. it was quite funny. i don’t know why that line specifically popped into my head, but oh well.
    also, i wrote it on this random paper full of weird randomness me and my friends in spanish wrote and left on the desk. so, in fourth period today, someone will have looked at a piece of paper on their desk with yaks, spanish words, octopus accusations, and one “you people are crazy! (but that’s why we’re friends)”. they were probably insanely confused.

  15. Haley~Hyperness is ICY: that octopus thing sounds really funny. if i did that people would think i m crazy& since there r only 100kids in my grade, they all know who i am&stuff, so i would get made fun of till the end of the year. spanish class is really fun(only on mondays) because i sit next 2 my friend Kayla(yes, we have assigned seats) and we always talk about sharpies. i luv how sharpies smell……mmmmm……so this one time i m pretty sure i got high on a sharpie in spanish because it all of a sudden looked like it was raining in the spanish room& i couldn’t stop laughing. =D

  16. i hate the smell of sharpies…and the smell of icy-hot patches. my friend (in spanish again) had one, and she made me smell it. my lungs automatically closed upon smelling it…smelled pretty bad cause that usually only happens when i smell cigarette smoke…

  17. I need a good book right
    now. I hve nothing to read
    (Im almost done Love is Hell and Scotts story was amazing)
    but I need something …soon

    ive been thro taht a few times=.[
    but thats y i have UPS(Uglies pretties+ speacials) and twilight+ to get me thro those tough times;D

  19. OMG! Andrea-la! AKKK!
    i just read ur post(88) and i almost cryed(i really have no idea y tho, i think i have a problem that if u talk about crying i cry)
    i just think its really cool seeing u um, deny God and then a (about) week later u um, accept? him;D
    that is very happy-makeing;D

  20. Kristina-la: Have you read anything by Anthony Horowitz??? He is an amazing author, I love the Alex Rider and Gatekeepers series. James Patterson’s YA books (Maximum Ride and Daniel X) are really, really good too (they’re quite funny). I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter, Kiki Strike: Inside The Shadow City by Kirsten Miller and Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe are also good. 😀
    That’s really all I can think of at the moment. Hope it helps. 🙂

    Click my name. 😀

  21. Kristina-la: Have you read anything by Anthony Horowitz? He’s an amazing author, I love the Alex Rider and Gatekeepers series. James Patterson’s YA books (Maximum Ride and Daniel X) are really good too (they’re quite funny). I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter, Kiki Strike: Inside The Shadow City by Kirsten Miller and Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe are really good too. 😀
    That’s really all I can think of right now, hope it helps. 🙂

    Click my name. 😀

  22. lol thanks
    I’ll check them out
    and thankfully a lot of new books are coming out this year
    so I will be good but I just have to hold on til then

  23. Kristina-la: I heard you were looking for something to read. Here are a couple of ideas.

    Hacking Harvard by Robin Wasserman
    Bloodline by Kate Cary
    The Fallen by Thomas Sniegoski
    Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
    Airhead by Meg Cabot

    There are a lot of books I could recommend, but I decided to keep the list short.

    Click my name and visit my blog.

  24. Haley: I think that’s hilarious!

    Kristina-la: Here’s some stuff you could check out. I separated them into two sections, the first few are usually found in the YA section and the second is in the adults section. But the Ender saga can sometimes be found in the YA section, though.

    House of the Night series – P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast (they are fine once you get over the first 2 chapters)
    Spindle’s End – Robin McKinsley
    The Black Magician Trilogy – Trudi Canavan
    Pendragon Series – DJ Machale

    Ender Saga and Bean Saga (they are companion series of each other) – Orson Scott Card
    Age of the Five Trilogy – Trudi Canavan
    Kay Scarpetta novels – Patricia Cornwell (If you are into murder mysteries with all the autopsy included)

  25. Ya I’ve been meaning to read more of Robin Wasserman’s books
    after I read skinned(which was really good and I hope she is almost done book 2)
    also I’ve been meaning to read seven deadly sins even before
    I knew about skinned
    but ya I will definatly check that one out
    I need to go to chapters.
    oh and thanks for all your seggestions without them
    I might have sunk so low to read the other Twilight books(which Im not up to, I’ve been putting it of because 1. there were better books out 2. I just didn’t want to and 3. it’s a waste of money and I dont feel like going to the library)
    I got sick of them after the second book(shows you long of an attention span I have)

  26. my rat ate a bag of mine the other day. her name’s tally, actually. would tally youngblood ever eat a bag?
    i wish i had a cat. i love kitties. i would name it godzilla.

  27. T&Z: Sorry to hear about you hamster’s passing. =( I got quite upset when my fighting fish died (not because of any fighting or anything)

  28. this is definetly the blog to go to if you want book recommendations…
    Runemarks -Joanne Harris
    Life of Pi -Yann Martel
    Evolution, me, and other freaks of nature -Robin Brande
    The Blue girl -Charles de Lint
    Tales of the Otori (all five of them are awesome…)
    The King’s Swift Rider -Mollie Hunter
    Dragonhaven -Robin Mckinley

    sorry about your hamster, Tally & Zane!

  29. T&Z: sorry 2 hear about dead tally. my friend once had a hamster that lived like 8weeks, then died.

    Minaaa: i don’t think the real fictional character tally would eat a bag. =D

  30. Minaaa (ashley-wa): It would be hilarious if Tally (youngblood) ate a bag…*time warp, I get smacked down by some invisible force..hmm…*

    Tally & Zane: Sorry to hear about your hamster…unless it’s not really a hamster and that’s just a code word for future-special..I’M ON TO YOU!! MUAHAHAHAHAHA (sorry, I’m kind of delirious..)

    Haley: Blue Girl ROCKED! It was trippy and amazing.

    (woo! Book recommendations!)

    Skinned was uh-mazing, and of course How To Ditch Your Fairy.

    Everyone have a nice whatever-time-of-day!

  31. For debate I’m making a bunch of crazy bills.
    There’s one about Toxoplasma, another to segregate Men from Women, and the last one is to make the conspirators of the ‘Landing on the Moon’ scheme be punished by law. Heehee.

    Any one else have some off-the-wall theories?

  32. Hi,
    I was kinda hoping that Scott-la would read this, even though its not Toxoplasma-related( although it IS an interesting post!)
    I recently read an article in Focus Magazine (BBC Science Journal etc.)
    on the eye-screens that you posted about. It had the same purple gloved picture as well! Anyways, this was a back issue printed a couple of months after it was posted here….so, not only in Westerblog ahead of times, but Prettylife has infiltrated the BBC!! Mwhaha!
    and secondly:
    I was given a Waterstone’s voucher…but my local one is pitiful, so the sales rep. told me that I could spend it online. Is there ANY way to buy HTDYF there? I couldn’t find it…X_X
    (and lastly)
    We had finals this week, and my friend had JUST finished reading Extras. So she passed me a note with a drawing of a Series 10 hoverboard ( I called it series 10 so her ‘different’ drawing would seem on purpose.. sigh.) and she has been speaking PrettyaTalk at a mile a minute…she’s such a Bubblehead *smirks*
    Any grammar, spelling and emoticons are not the result of the writer’s limited I.Q, But her rubish touch-typing skills.T_T

  33. Jay-wa, HOW’D YOU FIND OUT! Gah!My theory is that Tally was halucinating that Specials were chasing her like crazy so she thought she had to run/hoverboard faster and faster and faster. Cuz she died from running too fast on her lil wheel and had a heartattack….

  34. Good morning all,

    First, I appologie for my english. I don’t write english usually.

    I discover Scott Westerfield’s books two years ago and, always I red them, I am in an other world, an other time and an other land…

    So, I am very desapointed to not find “PEEPS” in french (I live in Paris). A lot of comments, about the book, are available on some blogs.

    Do you think that this novel will be translate soon ?

    Regards for all of you !!!

  35. My rat’s still toxoplasma negative. It’s been five months and she’s still terrified of my cat, especially after he tried to bite her ear off. Which is good news for me I guess, since I don’t have to make sure she’s keeping an appropriate distance from him. He still likes to sit in front of her cage though.

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