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Wild and Free
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πŸ“Έ by @peterlewispearsall

The rough-skinned newt.

The look adorable, they’re small and squirmy, they wander around the forest looking for insects to snack on with a certain recklessness like they know something most don’t.

And whether they actually know it or not, they are not to be fucked with. Humans are fine, they can’t hurt you if you handle them (just don’t touch your eyes until you wash your hands) – but if you were to lick one, you’d probably be paralyzed before you could put it down.

The skin of the rough-skinned newt is covered in a deadly neurotoxin – a compound called tetrodotoxin (TTX) that causes paralysis and is also found in pufferfish and blue-ringed octopus.

Tetrodotoxin is roughly 10000 times more potent than cyanide, one dose is enough to kill 17 adult humans OR 25000 laboratory mice. Many newts produce toxins to defend against predation, these guys just take to another level.

The reason for this is believed to be garter snakes, one of the newts primary predators. In some areas, the snakes have developed a resistance to the newts poison, so in response the newts have cranked up the poison damage.

So much so that on most days, the newt can walk through the forest like an amphibian Mr. Magoo, haphazardly failing towards his destination, killing anything that tries to ingest him along the way.

All they want to do is eat bugs, I say let them be.

#natureismetal

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