Could A Good Gut Microbiome Turn Lectins, Phytates and Saponins Into Nutrients?

Well, it seems to turn some poison into food for some mice.

Poop Transplants Let Pack Rats Eat Poison

Can’t eat poison without dying? Maybe your gut microbes are to blame. Rodents in the Mojave Desert have evolved to eat toxic creosote bushes with the help of specialized gut bacteria. Although scientists had long suspected that bacteria might be key to the rats’ power, they proved it by feeding the rodents antibiotics and ground-up feces.

The desert woodrat or Neotoma lepida lives in dry parts of the western United States. (You might know woodrats as “pack rats”; they build elaborate nests out of debris they’ve hoarded.) In the southern part of the desert woodrat’s range, a bush called creosote grows. Its leaves are coated in a toxic material—the key ingredient, nordihydroguaiaretic acid, normally damages the kidneys and liver of rodents. Yet desert woodrats that live in the creosote bush’s range can eat it without any trouble. In fact, the amount of creosote a desert woodrat eats in just a day would kill a laboratory mouse.

…Honey Bagger Don’t Care. Honey Badger Don’t Give a Shit.

Oooowzers. Watch out for those LECTINS!

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Karen on September 16, 2014 at 09:36

    Hmmm… my Goldens have decimated the creosotes on my 2.5 acre property over the past 19 years. However, they eat the sticks/branches but not the leaves. They occasionally catch a pack rat (I always called them kangaroo rats because of their long back legs). The dogs think I can’t see the long tail hanging out when they’re pretending to not have anything in their mouths.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 16, 2014 at 09:44


      I think it’s entirely plausible that by catching and eating the rats, they get enough of the gut bacteria that they can ingest parts of the plant that have far less toxins.

      Just a fun WAG to contemplate.

  2. Regina on September 16, 2014 at 11:50

    Great find on the desert rats!

    Of course, the honey-badger clip is the best documentary ever made. “…his skin is loose, allowing him to move about freely…”

  3. elmo on September 16, 2014 at 21:57

    over on your friend tatertot’s blog someone noted that there is a bacteria that breaks down oxalates too. Maybe all this gluten, celiac, IBS, crohn’s etc is caused by over use of antibiotics and nothing else.

  4. Michael44 on September 18, 2014 at 22:09

    ha ha.

    Why have I never known about the Honeybadger before!!??

    I love the loose skin comment Regina.

    I also love this ‘ ooh, look, it’s chasing things and eating them!. yep, Randall should get a job on the discovery Channel.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Follow by Email8k