Quirks & Quarks

Moose Saliva Reduces Toxins

Moose drool neutralizes toxic plant defenses to make grazing safer....

Moose drool neutralizes toxic plant defenses to make grazing safer. When some plants are cut or grazed, toxic chemicals called alkaloids are exposed. These plants have evolved this mechanism as a way of protecting themselves.  The toxins deep within the plants can be dangerous or even fatal to grazing animals. But new research by Dr. Dawn Bazely, a Professor of Biology from York University in Toronto, has found that moose have their own way of combating the toxins found in the fescue grass they graze on.  Moose saliva, or drool, inhibits the growth of the toxic plant fungus by as much as 70 percent, enabling the animal to return to graze over the same areas without getting sick. Future research will determine the nature of the component within moose saliva that makes this possible. 

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