Animal of the day – 12/09/2010 – The Oxpecker

Oxpecker

The animal of the day is the Oxpecker. (Did you know: Oxpeckers feed exclusively on the backs of large mammals!

Oxpecker/mammal interactions are the subject of some debate and ongoing research. They were originally thought to be an example of mutualism, but recent evidence suggests that oxpeckers may be parasites instead. Oxpeckers do eat ticks, but often the ticks that have already fed on the ungulate host and there has been no proven statistically significant link between oxpecker presence and reduced ectoparasite load.

Oxpecker with beak full of blue ticks.

Oxpeckers have been observed to open new wounds and enhance existing ones in order to drink the blood of their perches .[5]  Oxpeckers also feed on the earwax and dandruffs of mammals, although less is known about the benefits of this to the mammal, it is suspected that this is also a parasitic behavior.

FYI, both courtship and copulation occur on their hosts as well. Which is kinda jacked up. Seriously dude, can you please not copulate on my back? Assholes.

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