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Animal  Intoxication

Humans aren’t the only ones that like to get loose on the weekends. There are plenty other creatures in the animal kingdom that enjoy a walk on the wild side. Here are just five animals that have been caught exploiting other living species and plants for their narcotic effects.

1.    Black Lemurs (Eulemur macaco)

Black lemurs get high with a little help from a tiny creature – the millipede. On the island of Madagascar, lemurs will use the red little bug as a pesticide. They find the toxic millipede and bite into it to spray its toxins out. These toxins can include benzoquinone and even cyanide! Lemurs don’t eat the bug; instead they rub its secreted poisons all over their fur. This repels other insects such as malaria-carrying mosquitos from bothering the primates. It doesn’t just protect them though, the lemurs get fairly intoxicated off the millipedes deadly cocktail of toxins. They enter a blissful state, salivating all over the place - and they seem to love it!

Flickr | hehaden2.    Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops)

Dolphins are another animal that use a different creature for its intoxicating qualities. This time the pufferfish is the supplier. The pufferfish contains a deadly poison in its fins, so deadly that if a human ingests it, there is no cure and a 100% fatality rate. One pufferfish contains enough tetrodotoxin to kill 30 adult humans. Bottlenose Dolphins however, can’t get enough of it! Small doses produce a narcotic effect for these intelligent animals. They have learnt to gently chew on the fish, passing it around to other dolphins, releasing just the right amount of the substance to enter a trance-like state; a pufferfish pass.

Flickr | Leszek Leszczynski3.    Jaguars (Panthera onca)

Jaguars are big cats - and they seem to have found their own cat nip in the wild! The ayahuasca vine contains many psychoactive properties. Jaguars have been known to chew on the leaves and engage in the Hallucinogenic affects. Jaguars aren’t the only one to enjoy this plant’s intoxicating properties. It is thought that through watching other creature’s behaviors, humans learnt to exploit the medicinal properties of plants. In the Peruvian rainforest indigenous peoples take the ayahuasca vine and mix it with dimethyltryptamine (DMT) containing plants such as chagropanga and mimosa tenuiflora rootbark. DMT is widely recognized as a strong hallucinogenic. This plant mixture is known as Yage and is digested during rituals and ceremonies. It is thought to be a laxative which rids the body of parasites and cleanses the digestive track.

Flickr | Eduardo Merille4.    Reindeers (Rangifer tarandus)

Reindeers are adventurous creatures. They’ll go out on the venture of psychedelic mushrooms commonly known as ‘magic mushrooms’! Specifically, the Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) - the toadstool you probably remember from children’s books. Funnily enough, this strange habit is thought to have created the childhood myth of Santa’s reindeers and Rudolph! Reindeer are very common in Sibera. It is thought that Siberian tribesman would copy the animals and ingest the fungi. They would then hallucinate and see the reindeers flying. The mushroom also acts as a stimulant, making the reindeer spronk (leap) much higher than normal.  As for the colours of the Fly agaric, they resemble the colours we use to represent Christmas – white and red. We all know what colour Rudolph’s nose was…

Flickr | Séan Nel5.    Bennet Wallabies (Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus)

Tasmania is one of the world’s largest producers for legal opium. There are many poppy fields all over the state and in Australia.  The opium grown is used for the pharmaceutical market and made into pain killers. Bennett's Wallabies have been known to enter the fields and ingest the plant. They’ve been seen skipping, or even tripping, around in loops leaving behind crop circles. These circular motions may seem strange but sheep have also been known to act similarly after ingesting the seeds.

However, this substance carries a heavy come-down, causing the wallabies to lose energy. This doesn’t seem to put them off though, as they shortly return to the fields to experience it all again.

Flickr | Peter O'Connor aka anemoneprojectorsLooks like some animals aren’t as innocent as they seem. We won’t be taking these guys to parties anytime soon!

By Simone Kelly - Online Journalism Intern

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