Tagged: rodents

Science Tuesday: To Study for Finals? Or “Carb” Out and Take Over the World? Or Both?

By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer

It’s about to be finals week and I’m stressing. I heard this myth once that college was supposed to be super fun with parties and football games and really chill class schedules, but that’s not the case at Boston University.

All I can think about are my 20-page papers, editorial projects and exams. And then, when I have the urge to give up, I get up, go into the kitchen and grab some Funyuns… and chocolate covered pretzels, and why not grab some Santa shaped cookies and heat up the pizza rolls and whatever else I can carry with me to the couch?

So basically, I have a feast — like straight up “the Last Supper,” with just with me and my textbooks, all in the hopes of de-stressing.

But honestly, can stress actually make us hungry for junk food? Let me tell you, #thestressisreal.

According to Kevin Laugero, a Research Nutritionist at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center/ARS/USDA and a Professor of Nutrition at the University of California Davis, we don’t actually eat more overall, we just alter what we eat. It’s no wonder why salad eaters switch to some good ol’ Velveeta mac and cheese during finals week.

The study, published in Popular Science compares human food habits with that of rodents, which is a little demeaning, but strangely accurate. Scientists have studied rats coping mechanisms with stress by cramming them into Plexiglas tubes or small areas (kind of sounds like a cubicle at the library, huh?)

When cooped in a small area for hours, scientists found that the rats lost their appetite for any type of healthy food, but were much more willing to eat junk food. I’m guessing the premise of “Ratatouille” may have some odds against it.

When animals get stressed they need additional energy to power through to escape being hunted. So, their bodies produce cortisol. This hormone triggers glucose stored in the fat and muscle and this is what motivates animals to find food that has the most calories in it. Similarly, we have comparable eating habits when it comes to stress, except we’re not running away from a predator — we’re running away from finals and trying to find comfort in a large tub of pistachio ice cream or what have you.

The thing is, stress does in fact affect us and our eating habits. To the extent that it affects 80 percent of the population, according to Popular Science. We’re all a little stressed out. Especially with finals approaching, don’t you just feel like you can take over the world when you’re “carbing” out? Well, at least until you go into a food coma, stress out about that and binge again…

Watch the video below to see something that might feel vaguely familiar to finals week:


Don’t fear your domesticated feline

By Margaret Waterman, Associate Campus Editor

Vindicating dog-lovers and cat-haters all over the world, the BBC World Service dropped this bombshell Tuesday Jan. 29:

Free-ranging cats on islands have caused or contributed to 14% of the modern bird, mammal, and reptile extinctions, according to a study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. PHOTO BY Lilliam Adan

Free-ranging cats on islands have caused or contributed to 14% of the modern bird, mammal, and reptile extinctions, according to a study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. PHOTO BY Lilliam Adan of domestic cat Onyx

Cats are responsible for between 1.4 and 3.7 billion bird and between 6.9 and 20.7 billion mammal deaths annually.

The BBC article went on to claim that our furry feline friends are not only vicious killers, but cumulatively are responsible for more animal deaths than road related accidents, animals’ collisions with buildings or animal poisonings.

Don’t worry, though–the article, while harshly critical of kitties, offered deeply insightful solutions to this furry flurry. An expert from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute suggested keeping domesticated cats indoors as opposed to letting them roam free out in the wild. A spokeswoman from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said putting a bell on your cat’s collar would decrease its chance of success while hunting by at least 33%.

However, the article also said feral and stray cats were by far the leading cause of mammal and bird deaths. The American Robin, in particular, is most at risk of all birds, while mice, shrews, voles, rabbits and squirrels were most likely to be kitty-killed.

After some (probably too much) thought, I suddenly had an epiphany and, amazingly, the answer to the problem.

Which leads me to believe there is only one solution, and it does not involve the disownment of your little Garfield, Crookshanks or Sylvester: instead of giving up our pets, we must get MORE cats.

It only makes sense that, if feral or stray cats are the leading perpetrator in bird and small mammal murders nationwide, that we domesticate them all and stick bells on their collars.

This solution, while stunningly brilliant, only caused me to demand answers to other questions. Why a study about the negative impacts of cats? More specifically and more importantly, what’s so wrong with your cat protecting you from rodents?

Either way, we should all take a minute to reflect upon the needless, tragic deaths of billions and billions of bird and small mammal deaths across the country by bowing our heads in a moment of silence.