Mmm, dish up some parasites. And toss in some botulism, willya.

My TV diet consists of these staples: Animal Planet, Food Network, the Discovery and Travel channels.

History Channel runs interesting content too.

(Sorry, "American Idol," perhaps one day I’ll watch it — as a rerun, 20 years from now.)

I caught the tail end of an episode from Animal Planet’s "Most Extreme" series, Extreme Eaters. “From a beetle that eats nothing but dung to a bird that feasts on anthrax, botulism and even cholera, be prepared to dig in when animal feasts get taken to the most extreme” reads the synopsis.

A couple in the Top 10 list caught my attention.

First is No. 5, the cleaner wrasse. This is Mother Nature’s underwater garbage disposal. These little gals and guys perform an invaluable service, swimming about feeding on the dead skin and parasites off fish, including darting in and out of their mouths for a marine "dental" cleaning. Parasites are tasty enough; it's the nutrient-rich mucus layers that’s prime rib to the cleaner wrasse.

Did you know these little suckers are employed in human therapy? There are fish spas in Asia where clients sit at pool's edge with feet dangling for “pedicures.”

The footage presented men seated in water – rather nonchalantly I might add – while the little buggers squiggled and wiggled through leg hair to devour their “skinny” morsels. How the clients managed to remain seated so calmly with all that tickling I couldn't say.

The treatment is not in lieu of a loofah. Oh no, the clients presented patchy red skin, evidently some disorder, and offered it up to the cleaners as fine dining. The treatment's quite effective too. Remarkable healing of wounds has occurred at mouths of these underwater garbage disposals.

Ain’t Mother Nature stupendous?

The second fascinating Extreme Eater topped the list at No. 1: the vulture.

As the winged garbage disposals that too provide a vital service, these birds ingest anything, including botulism. The botulism bacteria is nature's most toxic and fatal to wildlife save for these gorgeous creatures. They can smell death a mile away.

And boy are they not picky! Raw, baked in a forest fire, rotting, they do it all. The footage showed a cow carcass in the desert, the eye sockets already emptied of their delectable gelatin, and apart from the crawling and flying insects it lay fully intact and ready to be served to – and serviced by – these winged garbage disposals. Watching, I thought I could do that, be a vulture, were I incarnated as a bird.

There’s no food that’ll induce a vulture to vomit. But they do vomit. Can you guess the reason?


It’s when they’ve grown heavy from feasting; they throw up so to fly.

Mother Nature, so dang intelligent. Were that the same could be said of humankind …

For the curious and lovers of learning, the Top 10 Extreme Eaters are:

1.     Vultures; they eat anthrax, botulism and cholera.
2.     Meerkats; they eat scorpions.
3.     Poison dart frogs; they eat poisonous ants.
4.     Dung beetles; they eat dung.
5.     Cleaner wrasse.
6.     Dust mites; they eat human dead skin.
7.     Parrotfish; they eat rocks.
8.     Macaws; they eat clay.
9.     Termites; they eat wood.
10.   Sloths; they eat poisonous leaves.

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