A fascinating and often overlooked aspect of the natural world is animals getting high. Some animals, like people, can enter altered states of consciousness or seek out chemicals that alter the mind. Their interactions with various plants, substances, or even other creatures in their surroundings frequently result in this behaviour. Let’s investigate this fascinating occurrence and look at some of the species that exhibit such behaviour and how they achieve it.
1. Elephants: Elephants are known to seek out fermented fruits. In some regions, marula fruits ferment and become alcoholic, and elephants have been observed deliberately consuming them to get a bit tipsy.
2. Kittens and Catnip: Many cat owners are familiar with this one. Catnip, a herb in the mint family, can elicit a euphoric response in some cats. They may roll around, purr, and exhibit playful behaviour when exposed to catnip. What’s more interesting is that big cats, such as tigers, are also known to partake in this natural high when they come across catnip in the wild.
3. Dolphins: Considered to be among the most intellectual creatures, dolphins have displayed some remarkable behaviour. It has been noticed that they are chewing on pufferfish, which when threatened, produce toxins. What’s remarkable is that dolphins seem to absorb the ideal quantity to create a trance-like condition without running the risk of overdosing. This suggests a remarkable degree of self-control, making their indulgence less hazardous than that of the other creatures on this list.
4. Fruit flies: In a very unexpected turn of events, fruit flies exhibit behaviour that is comparable to human emotions. Male fruit flies eagerly seek alcohol when they are rejected by possible mates, according to studies, suggesting a coping mechanism similar to humans using alcohol to cope with difficult situations.
5. Jaguars: These fearsome animals occasionally make an exception in the lush Amazon jungle to chew on Yage plant portions. This herb is well-known for its euphoric, though occasionally nauseous properties. Jaguars may use this herb, even if it means experiencing terrifying hallucinations, to sharpen their sensory sensitivity for hunting.
6. Birds: Across species, birds appear to enjoy the benefits of fermented fruit. However, after they smash with structures, their drunken flights can be just as dangerous as human drunk driving, killing numerous birds. Overdose is particularly dangerous for smaller birds. Due to their reliance on berries, which are known to naturally ferment during the winter, some species, such as waxwings, have evolved a rather high tolerance.
7. Bats: In contrast to their feathered relatives, bats exhibit skilful intoxicated flight. Even when their blood alcohol content is substantially higher than what would be considered legally intoxicated in humans, they can still effectively perform echolocation.
8. Butterflies: Unexpectedly, butterflies show a preference for alcoholic beverages. They may exhibit this odd behaviour as a result of their attraction to particular substances, which sets them apart from other insects.
9. Pen-Tailed Tree Shrew: This Malaysian animal exhibits a serious approach to drinking. Every night, for two hours, these rat-like critters consume fermented palm nectar, which has the same amount of alcohol as nine glasses for an adult. Their excellent alcohol metabolism, which outperforms that of humans, is what’s remarkable. They appear to drink for beneficial side effects including a reduction in cardiovascular risks and a heightened appetite as opposed to just for pure enjoyment.
10. Vervet monkeys: have a penchant for alcohol; they are originally from Africa but were transported to Caribbean islands like St. Kitts in the 18th and 19th centuries. During the era of the plantation, their introduction to alcohol began with fermented sugar cane. Adolescent vervet monkeys consume alcohol more frequently than their older counterparts, just like teens in humans.
11. Bees: Known for their crucial function in pollination, bees are among the most resilient drinkers in nature. They can survive by drinking only pure ethanol. Nectar can occasionally develop in the hot summer months, producing an alcoholic beverage that tastes a lot like mead. It’s interesting to note that bees also show a predilection for nectar that contains caffeine and nicotine, indicating that these compounds may draw them in.
12. Goats: An Ethiopian goat herder by the name of Kaldi is the source of the myth that coffee has psychedelic effects. The tale goes that Kaldi saw his goats being livelier after eating coffee beans. They would wildly hop around and even struggle to go sleep at night. It was because of this remarkable observation that caffeine’s potential as a strong psychoactive drug was finally discovered.
13. Wallabies: In Australia, wallabies are well-known for breaking into paddy fields and consuming opium. Under the influence, these wallabies frequently run in circles until they eventually crash, leaving behind crop circles.
14. Canadian Bighorn Sheep: Bighorn sheep inhabit the Canadian Rocky Mountains and frequently deviate off their usual migration paths to indulge in licking narcotic lichen. The sheep’s behaviour is both fascinating and dangerous as they scale cliffs and cross dangerous territory to reach this natural high.
15. Caterpillars: The caterpillars of the cocaine tussock moth, scientifically known as Eloria noyesi, exhibit an attraction for coca leaves. They can consume substantial quantities of these leaves. This unique behaviour raises the prospect of using these caterpillars as an eco-friendly alternative to toxic herbicides used to eradicate cocaine crops.
16. African Wild Boars: In the forests of Gabon and northern Congo, wild boars native to Africa have been spotted digging up the roots of the narcotic plant Tabernanthe iboga. Upon consumption of these roots, the boars exhibit erratic behaviour, characterized by panic and flight responses. Interestingly, humans have also historically used this plant. In the 19th century, it was considered useful to hunters, as it helped them stay awake during night watches.
17. Slugs: Slugs exhibit an unexpected preference for alcoholic beverages. This tendency has even been taken advantage of by luring victims into traps that are loaded with cider or beer, where they eventually drown in a drunken stupor.
18. Hedgehogs: Slug traps that draw slugs also draw hedgehogs, which is unfortunate. These spiky critters appear to enjoy drinking beer just as much, and those who indulge in slug traps frequently become drunk and exposed to predators like cats or birds.
19. Pine Bark Beetles: Pine bark beetles have a curious relationship with alcohol, even though it is motivated by necessity rather than amusement. As a survival technique specific to their natural habitat, they exploit the smell of alcohol to find decaying tree stumps that they can colonise.
20. Lemurs: The endearing primates known as lemurs are found in Madagascar and have an unusual taste for millipedes. To protect themselves from predators like mosquitoes, these millipedes emit harmful chemicals, including cyanide. The lemurs’ slobbering and trance-like state, however, are also brought on by the poisons, raising the possibility that they are seeking some sort of intoxication.
21. Horses: Some horses graze on locoweed, a poisonous plant that can cause hallucinations and unpredictable behaviour. Foraging for food has resulted in this more as an unexpected consequence.
However, I know you’re still short of words and never knew something like this existed, but it does. Always keep in mind that the majority of the time, when animals consume drugs, it is a result of their foraging activities or interactions with nearby plants and other chemicals. It’s crucial to remember that this behaviour isn’t always advantageous for the animals involved. Even though it could seem funny, it can also be risky, and some animals may develop addictions to these chemicals.
The complexity of the natural world is revealed by this fascinating element of animal behaviour, where even non-human species display unusual and occasionally mind-altering behaviours. The variety and adaptability of life on Earth are brought to mind by this.
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