According to the study published in Journal Royal Society Open Science, parasites may be responsible to turn animals into cannibals. Cannibalism means feeding on their kind. One such example of cannibal is spider.
The shrimp is turned into a cannibal after it is infected by the parasite.
The parasite is Pleistophora mulleri when infecting the fresh water shrimp the chances of it feeding on the young ones increased than the other adults. Shrimp occasional feed on their young ones but with the parasite affecting the shrimp the probability of cannibalism has significantly increased, said Researchers at University of Leeds, Stellenbosch University, and Queen’s University Belfast.
“Although the parasite is tiny – similar in size to a human red blood cell – there are millions of them in the host muscle and they all rely on the host for food. This increased demand for food by the parasites may drive the host to be more cannibalistic,” said Mandy Bunke of the University of Leeds said in a press release.
The parasite occupying most of the area of muscle it makes the shrimp look chalky and not transparent.
The parasite weakens the shrimp and cannibalism is the only way for the shrimps to survive, these parasites damage the muscles of the shrimp making it very difficult to hunt for its prey and in such condition these weak shrimps feed on young ones.
It might be possible that cannibalism can drive down the population of shrimp.