Everyone knew the position of Giant Isopod Poop Cleaner at the Toba Aquarium was awarded through nepotism. There was no work to be done and so no way to fail by not doing it, and for years the fortunate employee, unsoiled by ambition, had remained happily at home watching old sitcoms and collecting paychecks, until May 26th of this year, when a giant isopod poop was found languishing in the giant isopod tank. It was the first crustacean crap to appear in the tank in over two years.
The giant isopod is a sea creature resembling, and related to, the little land crustaceans known variously as pill bugs, sow bugs, or roly-polies, only the size of a dorm-room refrigerator. There are five of them in the Toba Aquarium and they’re no trouble at all. Whatever their needs are, they are not many. The first giant isopod they hosted did perish after not eating for five years, but nobody knows why. Could have been foot fungus, or malaise.
Remarkably, the isopod poop that materialized in May contained fish scales of a species that had never been on the aquarium menu. So it was assumed it was from something the creature had eaten before being captured, over seven years earlier. That’s a long time to be working on a turd.
That does not mean the giant isopod suffers from irregularity. If he dumps another lump in 2028, he’ll be right on the money.
So we don’t really know what motivated the movement this time, although it should be noted that streams of visitors to the aquarium had been staring at the animals through the glass for years and years and the isopod pinched a loaf only when the pandemic shut everything down.
Anyway, although the giant isopod cannot be descibed as peckish, it does have its moments. A now-famous video shows a giant isopod eating the face off a dogfish shark. Or purports to: what with all the thrashing and turbulence, I can’t even make out the isopod, and would have assumed the unfortunate shark was just having an epizootic.
But in any case the isopods clearly feel no urgency about eliminating digested shark face. They’re pokey about it. Seems to me you don’t get to be a really giant giant isopod by shooting everything you eat out the back end. You need to deliberate on it.
The Toba Aquarium isopod poop cleaner probably got bumped back down to the mailroom, or up to Vice President, but he could have been redeemed if it had taken a little longer to discover the poop. Turns out that many isopod species eat their own poop. Maybe, just maybe, the isopods are dropping a dookie a lot more often than anyone thinks, but scarf it back up before the morning shift comes on.
That’s called coprophagia, and a number of animals practice it, notably rabbits. They can hoover doots straight from their nethers. Rabbits eat their own poop in order to get just that much more nutrition out of it. That’s because the nutrient absorption happens only in the front end of the rabbit, but the fermentation that breaks down a lot of plant material happens in the other end, after the food has passed Go. (This takes place in an organ called the Cecum, a.k.a. Baltic Avenue.) So the rabbit sends everything through one more time to scoop up the remaining nutrients. Then it’s done. The pellets are different. There’s Number Two Number One, and Number Two Number Two, and nobody eats the Number Two Number Two, in case you were starting to think poorly of rabbits.
In any event, no one knows if a shark-face-eating giant isopod will eat his own eventual poop. A dog will, in a heartbeat, and there’s really no good reason why. People persist in thinking dogs are really smart, but I’ve never seen one unwind himself from a tree.
Thanks to Friend Of Pootie Kat Satnik for the news flash.
I wonder if SpongeBob Squarepants has to watch out for giant isopods?
Maybe giant isopods have trouble with corners. We can hope.
Um. Golly, you sure have a lot of slang phrases for excretion and excrement. Is that a Postal Employee specialization, or, maybe just a Lifestyle Choice? (i’m getting such a kick out of being the first to comment, that I can’t pass it up. But, truth is, I am speechless.)
Obviously, I took too long to compose my comment and lost out to Jono, who is quicker on the draw. Poop.
Poop! It is not a Postal Employee specialization. It's mine alone. We did have a wonderful time at the station the time the sewer workers were outside digging and respectfully asked we refrain from doing anything important in the rest room while they were there. You've never seen more motivated employees in all your born days.
Regularity and speed are entirely different (but often confused).
You make an excellent point there.
Lo, how I WISH I had not just eaten. But then you produced the phrase "and nobody eats the Number Two Number Two, in case you were starting to think poorly of rabbits" which made me laugh. I don't mind the little pillbugs but I don't think I'd want to meet their humongous cousin.
Evidently they're very popular in Japan, though. There are puppets, there are T-shirts…
I think that Elmer Fudd now has some dirt on Bugs Bunny, though I don't think that he could use it in a cartoon.
Maybe in a sequel!
I didn't even know there were such things as giant isopods, so I have learned something today.
They're very popular in Japan. As Naked Mole Rats are popular here.
A giant isopod is nightmarish to me. A pill bug or sow bug creeps me out severely. You know a lot about these things. My fear of the sow bugs came from an either a real or imagined incident (you tell me which, please) that happened when I was a very small child. I was holding a sowbug in my hand looking at it and thinking it was cute, when suddenly I had the original sowbug and hundreds? more crawling all over my hand. It absolutely freaked me out, or did I dream it? Is that how sowbugs have babies, and how about the giant isopods, could you suddenly have hundreds of them trying to escape their fish tank? Don't put your hand in there, just in case.
It appears you did not dream up your nightmare. According to this article on pill bugs, the female lays eggs (12-24) which she deposits in a drop of water which she carries around on her abdomen. When they are mature they leave the drop appearing like adults but smaller and white. They then go through several molts. So you had a lady pill bug give birth in your hand! How cool!! Now you can feel better about that memory.
I'm not sure you made her feel all that much better. Still, these things can be visceral. For instance, I'm not afraid of snakes, and admire them generally, but once I stepped in a median strip right in the center of a hundred baby snakes that all took off REALLY FAST in every direction like some big living mandala and I thought I would throw up on the spot.
Dogs eat their own poop because the food we feed them is crap and hard to digest anyway. I must applaud you for writing on a subject that has not been done-to-death on the Internet or FB. You are one interesting journalist.
The food most Americans eat is crap and hard to digest. I can hardly wait until the epidemic of coprophagia hits our country.
I can. I can wait. And I can't see how dogs are redeemed at all by eating crappy food twice.