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March 31, 2005

Why rats can't vomit

Learn why rats can't vomit. In astonishing detail! With extensive citations from the relevant literature!

Anne_of_the_rats' fine essay also includes a special bonus feature--scroll to the end to learn which of your favorite species can toss its cookies.

For example...

Crocodile--Yes
Japanese quail--No
Horse--Rarely
Sperm whale--Yes
Woodchuck--Yes
Guinea pig--No
Bluefin tuna--Yes

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Comments

Very cool, in a i'm-glad-I'm-done-eating sort of way.

Do you really think it was necessary to cite references about cats & dogs being able to vomit? I'm sure people were aware of the phenomenon before 1945.

Anyone who's ever owned a cat knows that only can vomit, they can do so at will. Found yet another lovely pile of regurgitated cat food on my carpet just this morning.

Could have been worse. I could have stepped in it. Lemme tell ya, nothing like the feel of cold cat vomit oozing between your toes.

Ooops ... "not only that they can vomit, but that they can do so at will."

That makes slightly more sense.

A regular event at Society for Neuroscience meetings is Club Emesis -- they get together over dinner to discuss the biology of vomiting.

Can get me on the guestlist, PZ? Pretty please?

If a horse or a Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) vomits, that is usually a sign of imminent death. Sign of stomach rupture in horses, usually. You can get a quail to vomit by manually overfeeding and the bird gets to live and talk about it, though.

I would hypothesize that rats developed their divided stomach first, which led to the loss of vomit function. The divided stomach is a way to store food and smooth metabolic cycles when access to food is sporadic and metabolic processes are difficult to regulate- as is the case with a warm blooded animal that spends most of its time hiding in a hole until large predators are away or asleep. This also would explain pica- clay and dirt is readily available in a hole.

BLLEAAAAGGGHHHHH!!!

Rats just need to die, really.

Rabbits I didn't know about. But from reading Watership Down I learned they can absorb inconvenient pregnancies into their own bodies.

Oh, I also, from working with a farm vet, learned that cows can push their uteruses out their bodies after birth. Verrrry interesting watching a five-foot-tall vet talking to a farmer while her arm was up to the shoulder inside a cow's yaa, feeling for detachment.

Kinda put me off the becoming-a-vet thing.

Zuzu, I read some great books when I was a kid called "Zoo Vet," which were autobiographies of a guy who became, well, a zoo vet.

He had a great story about how he finally managed to impress the tough old zookeeper who had no use for vets by fixing a hydrax's prolapsed uterus -- something that vets see all the time in cows but that the zookeeper had never seen before.

As an undergraduate, I spent a year working in a japanese quail lab. I just want to note that while they may not be able to vomit, they can certainly poo. In fact, they shit so much (I know this because one of my jobs was to clean the cages twice a week) that they probably have no need to vomit. Any toxins go through their system in what seems to be (when you have to clean it) a matter of minutes.

airdale terriers - every fucking day

YUUUCH! I hope never to see sperm whale vomit, especially while kayaking!

The trick is to not get a sperm whale drinking in the first place, crazed gropers that they are

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