• Question: What do tapeworms do, and where do you find them?

    Asked by rung499sty to Paul, Michael S, Martin M, Kirsty R, Erin P, Bruno Silvester L, Alexander dB on 15 Feb 2024.
    • Photo: Erin Pallott

      Erin Pallott answered on 15 Feb 2024:

      Tapeworms are a type of parasitic worm that I have worked with. Their name comes from their long, flat bodies. Tapeworms try to find a host, so they can feed and produce offspring.
      Lots of types of animals can be infected with tapeworms, including humans.
      People can get infected with them by eating uncooked meat, as the young larvae can live in the muscle. The eggs and larvae are passed out through faeces, so eating food contaminated will also pass them out.
      Parasites evolve to avoid making you sick, as they need you to live. But people with tapeworms will start to lose weight and become anaemic, from the parasite stealing your food!

    • Photo: Paul Laurance-Young

      Paul Laurance-Young answered on 16 Feb 2024:

      Tapeworms live in your gut and can get really, really long! You get them from eating undercoooked pork (so always check if things are piping hot inside!).
      Basically they just live inside you, chilling out and feeding off your food, but they can cause a number of problems for you; That’s why we get rid of them.

    • Photo: Bruno Silvester Lopes

      Bruno Silvester Lopes answered on 16 Feb 2024:

      Agree with the answers below

    • Photo: Martin McCoustra

      Martin McCoustra answered on 19 Feb 2024:

      Tapeworms are a parasite that grows in your gut. You injest tapeworm eggs and they hatch inside you. They live by taking some of your food as you try to digest it.

    • Photo: Kirsty Ross

      Kirsty Ross answered on 19 Feb 2024:

      Tapeworms are a parasite that have to live inside other animals for part of their lifecycle. Depending on your point of view, it starts from when you eat the eggs, which can be found in undercooked meat like pork. Once there, they hatch in your gut and attach themselves to your gut wall. They hang on there, growing longer and longer, and eating some of the food you eat. They reproduce in your gut and the eggs come out in your faeces. This starts the process all over again. Sometimes you know you have them but sometimes you don’t. They can get really, really long.

      There is a museum in Japan devoted entirely to parasites, and they have a tapeworm specimen that is 8.8 metres long! https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/meguro-parasitological-museum

    • Photo: Alexander de Bruin

      Alexander de Bruin answered on 20 Feb 2024:

      tapeworms are parasitic worms that can be found in uncooked meat and drinking water contaminated with blood or faeces from infected people. They live in the intestines of their host and steal the nutrients from food leading to the host eventually getting very sick!

    • Photo: Michael Schubert

      Michael Schubert answered on 22 Mar 2024:

      You’ve had some pretty great answers so far! Tapeworms can live in lots of different animals (and there are actually different species of tapeworms that are adapted to live inside different kinds of animals). You just don’t want to find one in your own intestines… because they will eat all the nutrients you need instead of letting them get into your own body!