Sep 30, 2016

So High I Could Touch the Sky: Animals on Drugs

     Honestly, I have no clue what brought on this post. I kind of maybe remember that the idea hit me at some party or in the middle of a binger but I'm not entirely certain and I can't recall any prior musings or conversations (which kind of confirms my presumption, doesn't it?). What I do remember is the moment I thought, "Hey, I wonder if animals in nature do drugs," which then made me type a note in my phone. Naturally, I forgot all about it that very instant until I, days later, found that 'Animals on drugs??' reminder. Of course I then had to go online and got myself lost in a swarm of videos of basically every living creature on the planet as high as a kite because let me tell you: animals do drugs, oh yes, they do. And not just some accidental poor sap here and there but a lot of them do. And a lot of them that do do them, do a lot of them, which we'll go right into — after a short disclaimer.
     After 300+ blog posts, surely you've gotten used to me, therefore posts like this one shouldn't come as too much of a shock, right? I mean, I've written about weird sex fact not once, not twice but three times already as well as put together a list of facts on urine and written about foreskins, just to mention a few odd ones, so a post on doped up animals truly is no big deal. Does that mean that I think you should all go and get high too? Well, that isn't my place to say now, is it? Does that mean, however, that I think that you should all go and get your pets high? Well, that I'm making my place to say and I'm saying absofuckinglutely not. And if I ever catch you doing that, I will mutilate your genitals. So you better hide your stashes and keep them to yourself — I adore, respect, love and cherish animals so unless they find a way to self-indulge or self-destruct, whatever you want to call it, I'm not helping them out. Humans*, on the other hand, are mere consumables so you do whatever floats your boat — survival of the fittest, right?
     Now, let's get on to the fun part: who wants to see some stoned jaguars and drugged-up monkeys?

1. Jaguars
You know how cats (and dogs too) eat grass when their tummy hurts so they can then throw up and feel better? Well, jaguars in the wild do that too but out of all of the possible plants available to them, they eat a vine called Banisteriopsis caapi which coincidentally is one of the plants used to make the concoction otherwise known as ayahuasca. Sure, since higher doses of substances hidden in the plant's leaves often induce vomiting and diarrhea, you could say that they do it just to cleanse their intestinal tract of possible parasites, but jaguars are also known to roll around in ecstasy after binging on the leaves, which means detox is just a side effect of pleasure and not the other way around if you ask me.

2. Horses
Locoweed, is a term describing a plant which grows mostly in North America and Australia and contains a chemical called swainsonine. It's a charming, harmless-looking plant that horses adore. Why? Fist people thought that horses are drawn to it because it remains green longer than other plants, but horses have a different agenda: they like it for its intoxicating effects and the more they eat it, the more they need it. Farmers try their hardest to eliminate locoweed from their pastures because its abuse leads to neurological damage which is similar to chronic alcohol intoxication and thus male horses lose their libido, females are prone to infertility, etc.

3. Wallabies
Australia grows 50 percent of the world’s legal opium, a plants used to make painkillers like morphine. Can you sense where this is going? Apparently, wallabies eat the poppies that grow on the plants and then these drugged-up marsupials often hop around in the fields in circles before they essentially crash. And it’s not just the wallabies that are exploiting the medical crops for their own pleasure — apparently sheep were also seen having their fun in the poppy fields too.

4. Dogs
If you lick a toad, as you probably know, you get a psychedelic high similar to one after dropping LSD. OK, maybe you didn't know that but apparently a lot of dogs in Australia are fully aware of that fact since they lick them and then trip out in their back yards. And then lick them and trip out some more the next day. Yes, it's not just accidental, but very deliberate and one owner claimed that her Cocker Spaniel was an avid toad-licker in her youth so the owner had to take the pooch to the vet's office several times to be treated for toad poisoning when she overdosed on licking. The dog then mellowed out and stopped tripping when she got older. Kind of like we do, right, when we grow up and become boring old farts.

5. Birds
Jays, magpies, myna birds, ravens as well as other birds sometimes either rub themselves with ants or simply get cosy with anthills to cover themselves with swarming ants. This seemly weird behavior is called anting and the reason behind it remains unclear. Well, to scientists at least. One possible explanation is that the birds are covering themselves with the ant’s defensive chemical secretions in order to repel insects. Another boring option is that the excretion soothes the bird’s body during molting season. But some scientists don't neglect to mention the curious movement which sometimes accompanies anting — described as “a curious dance that involved flopping around on the grass with its wings outstretched and its beak open” — claiming that it indicates an intoxicated state which would then mean that anting is pleasurable for the birds (duh). Although all theories sound plausible and most likely the combination of all is the reason behind this peculiar behavior, here's another fun fact: apparently there are cases of anting addicts when birds become antisocial and just sit in anthills all day getting high on ant discharge. 

6. Dolphins
A team of scientists managed to film a gang of teenage dolphins playing around with a fish from the Tetraodontidae family or a pufferfish which is a toxic creature. After first hunting it down, they started to pass it around like playing catch. "After chewing the pufferfish and gently passing it round, they began acting most peculiarly," explained one of the scientists, "hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection." But maybe it would be best if you just saw the scene he's talking about for yourself.

7. Elephants
Here's the thing, whenever a fun piece of data surfaces, scientist huddle together to nullify it. And so when people started saying that elephants eat fermented (rotten) fruit of the marula tree to get drunk, those old farts protested that elephants would never eat rotten fruit and that even if they did, they'd have to eat enormous quantities of it to get drunk due to their humongous size. Well, numerous stories still claim otherwise and there are even occurrences where drunk elephants hang out with tipsy monkeys and even ostriches after putting aside their differences just so they could all binge on the fermented fruit.

8. Reindeer
This fun fact right here is my personal favorite because it's extra gross and weird — I'm sure you'll love it to. Or not. Anyhow, reindeer eat psychedelic fly agaric mushrooms just for the fun of it, which we humans can't do since these mushrooms are highly toxic. The reindeer, however, the lucky bastards, can digest them and then eliminate the psychoactive substance from their bodies through urine. The Sami people (or Laplanders who live way up in the arctic Northern Europe in a region called Lapland) herd reindeer and have learned to drink their pee to get high without the danger of getting poisoned. The shepherds then pee out most of the psychoactive chemicals as well, so the reindeer, what else, also learned to eat the yellow, urine-sodden snow. Isn't this just epic? I'm getting Trainspotting flashbacks as we speak.

9. Monkeys
As already mentioned above with the elephants, vervet monkeys are known to ingest ethanol in fermented fruit to get drunk. But what's even more interesting is how they do it — they do it human style: some monkeys are binge drinkers and 'attack' a tree full of rotten fruit which they keep all to themselves and munch on the intoxicating fruit until they fall into the grass in a drunken stupor. Others are only social 'drinkers' and don't touch the fruit when they're alone. But that's not all. Two other monkey species, lemurs and capuchin monkeys, seem to be getting high with millipedes. The millipedes store toxic chemicals, including cyanide, which they use to defend themselves when they're attacked. Monkeys pick up and bite millipedes and then rub them all over their bodies to cover themselves with toxic secretions. The primary reason for this is to coat themselves with some sort of a bug and parasites repellent, but these primates obviously also enjoy the high this deed provides as seen in this video (the scene at the end just warms my heart). The monkeys too were seen passing a millipede around in a pattern of behavior reminiscent of homo potheadus and the dolphins above. Isn't it fascinating how similar we all actually are?

10. Insects
And finally, a couple of examples from the class of creepy crawlers. First up are ants. When a colony discovers Lomechusa strumosa beetles, it carries the insects deep into its anthill. Why? Because the beetles produce an oil similar to the trichomes found in cannabis, which the ants lick with pleasure and even obsession. Some colonies have been found destroyed because the ants starved due to depleted food stocks, the queens were left unattended and larva left to die because of the 'secretion addiction'. And the second ones are none other than the busy bees. When you think about it, it's no wonder bees aren't immune to getting a buzz on — one of nature's hardest workers clearly need a break from time to time and when they do, they turn to fermented nectar. Apparently, the more wasted bees get, the more anti-social and violent they become and they tend to even flop on their backs and chill out before they fly home. Of course that's where the trouble starts. Before entering the beehive, they must pass inspection and every intoxicated bee is turned away, but spending a night out in the open to sober up is not even the biggest problem: sanctions for repeat offenders (i.e. drunks) are strict — they get their legs bitten off. Don't believe me? You're more than welcome to see that for yourself in this short clip.

* All you smarty-pants out there who are itching to say that humans are animals, you can just keep that nonsense to yourself. In my opinion, we've lost — or better yet gave up — the privilege of calling ourselves animals long ago when we decided to become these hybrids of digital bullshit, forgetting that we're in fact a part of the analogue. Just saying.

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