Southeastern Australia is seeing an increase in drunk acting kangaroos, they are indeed all acting wonky and tipsy. Hopping around with no clear path or destination in mind, it looks like they have been drinking heavily at the local pub.
Local footage has been published recently onto the internet and it shows kangaroos lurching sideways and heads wobbling all around. In fact, it looks like they will collapse and die at any moment. A closer look at this bizarre behavior reveals a much sadder truth: poisoning.
Canary grass is the culprit, scientific name Phalaris grass, a type of grass which is highly toxic to large kangaroos. The drunken condition is only in appearance, they are in fact suffering from phalaris toxicity or the common name is referred to as having “the staggers.”
It is a danger that can also affect sheep and cattle, when they graze in places that non-native grasses grow, however, somehow sheep and cattle can recover from the poisoning. The neurological damage on kangaroos seems to have a much deeper effect. Some believe it to be irreversible.
Representatives of Rescue and Rehabilitate in Victoria, Australia released a distressing video on July 7th via Facebook which showed a poisoned kangaroo, so bad was the toxicity poisoning that they were unable to subdue the kangaroo to attempt to help. The kangaroo was so confused and incapacitated that it was impossible for the team to get close enough to help, in cases like these the kangaroo generally has to be euthanized.
Researchers do not really know why this happens, however, a study in December 2014, showed that kangaroos who ate canary grass then suffered from a discoloration of their brain tissue going green and brown. This could be the toxins causing permanent damage to their brain functions.
Due to the abundant amount of canary grass growing in Victoria, Australia this year, unfortunately, more and more of these sightings will happen.