Humans Are Not The Only Species That Likes To Get Drunk

Rachel Wicksall - August 17th, 2019

Veterinary doctors around Northern Australia are used to the giant influx of parrots found on the streets being brought in for check-ups periodically throughout the year. They have dubbed it the drunken parrot season. A period of the year when the Red-collared lorikeets decide to get completely intoxicated and tipsy off natural brews.

australiangeographic.com.au

They are picked off the streets of Darwin and brought up to the Ark Animal Hospital in Palmerston. Generally found huddled in a corner or lying at the bottom of a tree, these parrots appear to be very confused and look very sick. They are usually depressed, unable to fly and have difficulty balancing on a perch – much like an inebriated human. This is because, in Northern Australia, mango, umbrella and other trees can come together to cause a fermented drink.

Parrots have learned that if they eat the fruit at certain times throughout the year then they will be pretty drunk. But this is not just a mild drunk, these parrots become completely sloshed for days at a time. And the main culprit is just one tree. Known as the drunken parrot tree, it is native to southern Africa and scientifically called the Schotia brachypetala. The species of tree is seeing a rapid rise and popping up in gardens all over Darwin, which is why we are seeing more and more parrots waking up drunk.

Unlike humans, birds are not experienced drinkers – they are eating the fruit as food and not drinking to get drunk. Fruit-eating birds are extremely vulnerable to this situation as they are becoming drunk off their main source of food. And the region does not help either – the northern regions see heavy snow which makes it difficult to find food. But when the snow melts, we find blackberries and crab apples with high levels of ethanol which is another way the parrots become drunk.

If the parrots do not like to party and get drunk, some animals have been known to like it. Such as the orangutans, apes, and elephants all like to eat fermented fruit and get drunk.

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