rabies limbs

4. Cunning Charm
Cute faces and furry coats makes mammals the most popular pets throughout the world. Yet
some mammals possess a poisonous secret weapon.
In Australia there lurks a very strange animal. The duckbilled platypus is perhaps the most
bizarre mammal on earth. Not only does it lay eggs, but it also has poisonous spurs
concealed under its hind limbs.
All platypuses are born with these spurs, but after sexual maturity they are only retained by
the males.
Platypuses never attack humans. But people who handle these strange creatures have been
known to suffer a painful and long lasting sting.
The short tailed shrew is a common Northern American mammal that appears small,
harmless and even cute. Yet it is the most notorious of venomous mammals. Its saliva
contains neurotoxins that immobilise prey much larger than itself. This pint sized predator
must eat constantly to stay alive. Its toxic saliva helps it to feed more quickly.
Deep in the jungles of South East Asia, scientists have discovered another venomous
mammal. The Slow loris is a poisonous gremlin of the night. As its name suggests, its too
slow to run from predators. So instead, it coats itself in a toxic saliva that makes it both
unpalatable and poisonous to anything that takes a bite.
Babies are coated with this saliva so they can be safely left home “alone” whilst their mothers
are off hunting for food.
This incredibly smelly skunk has the best chemical deterrent of all ammals…
…ideal for deterring a ferocious mountain lion. In America they thrive in urban areas. The
skunks’ defence system makes it the most noxious mammal that most humans are ever
likely to encounter. But there is a disease that can turn your favourite pet into a killer. 30,000
people die from rabies each year.
They usually contract the virus from pet dogs and cats, which have been bitten or scratched
by rabid wild mammals. Infected animals foam at the mouth and become aggressive. In
humans untreated rabies causes fever and disorientation. Then comes fear of water, inability
to swallow and ultimately paralysis and death.
In South America rabies is carried by a particularly sinister creature. Vampire bats usually
feed on the blood of both wild and domestic animals. But occasionally they feed on sleeping
humans. It’s not serious, but if the bat is rabid, it could be the kiss of death.