Bears get a lot of tapeworms, which is something I just learned today. But if you think about it, it makes sense — bears subsist on a diet that contains a lot of salmon, which is famously riddled with parasites. While us humans have the luxury of cooking salmon to get rid of these worms, bears aren’t so lucky.
“The tapeworm’s eggs are in Alaskan rivers, where they are eaten by crustaceans, which are eaten by salmon, which are eaten by bears. The tapeworm lodges in the bear’s digestive tract, where it lives out its days,” writes Matthew L. Miller. Although you might be imagining a little worm living peacefully in a bear’s gut, you couldn’t be further from the truth — while many bears are generally unharmed by these worms, they can still reach “lengths of 30 feet or more.”
If you ever wanted to know what this looks like in the wild, it’s your lucky day.
@markian.b A tapeworm living inside a bear can reach lengths of 30 feet or more. #bears #brownbears #alaska #wildife #tapeworms #bearsofalaska ♬ original sound - Mark Bouldoukian
This video shows a bear peacefully walking down the street as a New Year’s Eve popper of tapeworms explodes from his rear. Though he appears to look back at them at some point, he seems mostly unbothered, carrying along searching cars for something to feed his parasite-filled belly.
This video wasn’t enough for you? Well, here are some more!
Users on TikTok weren’t too happy to learn this not-so-fun bear fact. “I changed my mind — worst fear is mauled to death by bear with tapeworm hanging out,” wrote one. “New fear is getting mauled then it walks over my body with tapeworms sliding over my face,” echoed another.
Thankfully, few are dumb enough to try to reach up and remove the tapeworms themselves. But if you really want to know what it would be like to remove a tapeworm from a wild animal, someone on YouTube helpfully documented the experience of doing so from a raccoon.
In short, remember to cook your salmon — unless you want a tapeworm tail, too.