Wildlife Wednesdays: Wildlife Social Distancing | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: May 13th 2020

Wildlife Wednesdays: Wildlife Social Distancing

As the current heath crisis sweeps across the United States, with most of the world experiencing the virus as well, we have become accustomed to "social distancing." This is hoping to slow the spread of the virus rather than everyone getting sick at once, which is helping healthcare workers who have already been overworked during this crisis. We as humans are not the only one who practice social distancing. Some animals do this as well to prevent viruses and illnesses from spreading to each other. 

1. Honeybees- Bacterial diseases such as the American foulbrood are deadly to these bees. This disease liquifies honeybee larvae from the inside which produces a very foul smell. The infected larvae emit a chemical that older bees can smell. Once it is identified, the bees will actually toss the diseased larvae from the hive!

2. American Bullfrogs- In observing these bullfrogs, Joseph Kiesecker, a lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy, noticed that they could detect a deadly yeast infection in tadpools and other frogs. He noticed that other members of the group avoided the tadpoles and bullfrogs that were sick. Much like the honeybees, they rely on chemical signals to determine who is sick and who is healthy. 

3. Lobsters- Lobsters also used a chemical signal to determine if another member of their party is sick. A deadly virus they can get takes about eight weeks of the lobster having this disease to become contagious. Lobsters are very social animals, and once this disease is detected, other lobsters begin avoiding the lobster who has it. Sometimes a lobster can "smell" this disease as early as four weeks. 

4. Mice- Female mice use their sense of smell to determine if a potential partner is sick. If a possible partner has a parasitic infection, they can determine this by a "whiff" in the male's urine. If he is infected, she will move on to a healthier mate. 

5. A 1966 study involving chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, the researcher observed a chimp who had polio, which is contagious even in chimps. She noticed the other chimps attacking him and cast him out of the group. He then moved into a tree with other nearby chimps and "reached out a head in greeting, but the others moved away without a backward glance," Jane Goodall said, who was the study leader. The good news is that in other studies, chimps finally were welcomed back to the group after they were well. 

Bees will toss the infected bee/larvae out of the hive.
Female mice can determine a sick partner by smelling its urine.
A study showed an infected chimp with Polio was cast out of the group.