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A tongue eating parasite takes over the life of a helpless fish in a disturbing new photograph.

The disgusting image, released by Texas Parks and Wildlife organisation. shows an Atlantic Croaker with a large louse in its mouth and throat, suggesting it is going to have a hard time eating for itself.

To make matters worse, this real life horror has been spotted just days before Halloween — and might just be a needed bit of inspiration for anyone still short on costume ideas for the weekend.

The spooky-looking parasite is lodged inside the fish's mouth and is not about to go anywhere, making it truly the stuff of nightmares.

A statement from Texas Parks and Wildlife explains: "Inside this Atlantic Croaker’s mouth is a parasitic isopod called a tongue-eating louse.

“This parasite detaches the fish’s tongue, attaches itself to the fish’s mouth, and becomes its tongue. The parasite then feeds on the fish’s mucus. It also happens to be the only known case where a parasite functionally replaces a host’s organ."

According to Wikipedia, the species begins life in a short, free-living juvenile stage in the water. It then attaches itself to the gills of a fish, and becomes a male.

As they mature, they become females after mating on the gills.

If no female is present, a male can turn into a female. The female then makes her way to the fish's mouth, where she uses her front claws to attach to the fish's tongue.

The tongue-eating creature — which was also captured on a grisly video in 2017 — is usually found in North and South America, with many cases reported in California.

In 2005 one was found was inside the mouth of a red snapper bought from a fishmonger's in London, although it was never established whether this was a native catch or an imported fish.

Thankfully, this gruesome free-rider can’t affect humans, and doesn’t even usually kill the fish it latches on to.

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  • Animals
  • Fishing
  • Halloween

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