If you think humans are the only species that mess around with mind-altering substances, alter your mind and think again. From cats tripping on herb to dinosaurs being high out of their walnut-sized minds, here are ten examples of how-and why-animals get stoned.
Confessions Of An Opium-Eating Wallaby
Along with its other exports like bloomin’ onions and Hugh Jackmans, Australia supplies roughly half of the world’s supply of legally-grown medicinal opium. This has lead to a unique agricultural problem: wallabies sneaking into poppy fields, chowing down on the opium-bearing flowers, then mindlessly hopping in circles until they pass out, creating some of the few crop circles not created by ancient aliens or bored teenagers. The Australian government takes this problem as seriously as they do anything (considering how drunk they usually are) and held a parliamentary hearing on increasing the security of poppy fields nationwide. Alternative methods of dealing with the problem by channeling opium-addicted wallabies into Velvet Underground cover bands have yet to be addressed.
The Problem Drinking Of The Shrew
If you’re looking to get a tree shrew really drunk tonight, you’re out of luck, and also you should probably be in jail. The pen-tailed tree shrew of Malaysia feeds on the nectar of the bertam palm, a quick-fermenting yeasty brew that clocks in at an ABV of 3.8%, and they feed on a LOT of that nectar. One scientist with an active nightlife and a lot of fun girlfriends compared the shrew’s intake to that of an average woman drinking nine glasses of wine in a single evening. Bizarrely, the alcohol never seems to affect the tiny critters, even though some tests showed BAC that would be coma-inducing if not fatal in humans. Pity the alcoholic shrew who can’t even drink the pain away anymore.
The vervet monkeys of St. Kitts, on the other hand, get drunk so often that a controversial study used them to model how humans get drunk as well. First introduced to the island as stowaways on slave ships, the vervets got their first taste of alcohol from fermenting sugar cane. Today, it’s way easier for them to sneak cocktails from unsuspecting (or enabling) tourists, and a 2002 survey found that their behavior mirrored human drinking habits. 65 percent of the monkeys drank lightly and only with other monkeys, 15 percent didn’t drink at all, another 15 percent drank heavily but without too many social problems, and the remaining 5 percent were like tiny John Belushis with less body hair. These proportions are very similar to known human drinking habits, leading some to question the value of locking 1000 monkeys in a cage and feeding them mai tais.
Pufferfish, Pufferfish, Pass
Day-glo dolphins may have shown up on a lot of Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers in the ’90s, but real dolphins are way too busy beating up innocent sharks and having crazy rape orgies to hang out with unicorns. A recent BBC documentary Spy in the Pod used remote cameras to discover the latest fad among the delinquents of the sea: young male dolphins chomping on pufferfish just enough to release a tiny amount of deadly neurotoxin, then chilling out apparently looking at their own reflection in the surface. The dolphins even take turns sharing the fish, although just like human stoners, there’s always one dolphin who forgets he has the puff and gets distracted by a funny video on his phone.
Madagascar: Behind The Scenes
For years, scientists believed that the black lemurs of Madagascar were unique among tool-using primates for inventing its own form of bug spray: simply grab a handy giant millipede, chew on its head until it gets angry (this doesn’t take long) and the bug starts squirting poisonous defensive juices all over the place. Rub the bug juice into your fur and you have a unique defense at the height of the mosquito season. Pretty smart for a weird-looking cat-monkey, right? That was before someone analyzed the bug juice and found that it contained not only powerful psychoactives but cyanide… then someone analyzed the lemurs and found them to be incredibly high and understandably in ill health due to being a bunch of stoners bathing in super-deadly poison.
Fiendin’ On That Nip
Nepeta cataria is a member of the mint family used by ancient cultures as a mild sedative and by modern cultures as a way to get your cat to writhe around embarrassing itself like a furry little raver. The secret of catnip is in the volatile oil nepetalactone, which when sniffed or ingested binds to certain receptors in the cat brain-receptors normally meant to pick up on pheromones in tomcat urine. To female cats this is like Drakkar Noir and MDMA combined, triggering their sexual response and lots of weird yowling and wriggling. Oddly, nepetalactone also works on males, meaning that for just a few dollars at the pet store you can turn any male cat temporarily gay. This is why it’s so easy to blackmail cat politicians.
I Learned It From Watching Jaguars
For an apex predator like a jaguar, a little bit of mint leaf isn’t going to do the trick trip-wise. These big cats go for the roots and bark of the yage vine, which helps them clean out their digestive systems but also happen to carry a megaton dose of the incredibly powerful hallucinogen DMT, leading to some of the same goofy wiggly behavior their smaller cousins display on nepetalactone. Eating yage is also a major part of local tribes’ shamanistic tradition, and some anthropologists believe that the natives imitated the jaguar’s behavior in the hopes that the vine was the key to the feline’s incredible senses. Presumably these shamen missed the part where the jaguar rolls around drooling like a dork.
Poisonous and hallucinogenic, the fly agaric mushroom posed a problem to the prehistoric stoners of Northern Europe. Yes, it will make you trip balls, but it comes with a long list of painful and unpleasant side effects and in large enough quantities could straight-up kill you. One fateful day a Scandinavian shaman noticed that wild reindeer could and did eat fly agarics with no negative effects and still seemed to have a pretty good time (some historians think the “flying reindeer” part of Santa Claus was inspired by the way reindeer leap around while high on shrooms) and realized that somehow the animal was purifying the toxins in its body. That shaman reached the same conclusion anyone else would: feed a tame reindeer fly agaric, collect its urine in a bucket, boil it down to the essence, and drink it for some rad mystical visions. Others would simply butcher a high reindeer and eat its meat for essentially the same effect, but if you were really serious about your vision quest you knew you had to chug that magical piss. Skaal!
Gathering the materials is only half the battle: Ranking The 8 Worst Things That Can Happen When You’re Sitting At Home Stoned
Just Say Dino
Of course, if you’re really looking for a big dangerous animal on big dangerous drugs, you can’t go wrong with dinosaurs on acid. (Actually you could very easily go wrong with dinosaurs on acid.) After archaeologists recently discovered the oldest form of grass in the world preserved in amber, chemists were surprised to find the oldest form of ergot on top of it-a fungus known for inciting mass hallucinations in villages that was later used to synthesize LSD. While lizards and birds are known to freak out when fed ergot, scientists are unsure how the fungus might affect their much larger ancestors. It’s safe to say, however, that a spike-covered animal the size of a bulldozer tripping balls would be simultaneously the most awesome and dangerous thing ever seen.
The Most Stoned Animal Of All… Is Man
Renowned psychedelic scientist Terrence McKenna has a fun theory for you: what if the reason mankind evolved at such an incredible pace from poking rocks with sticks to flying to the moon to poke moon rocks with scientific sticks is because a bunch of primates got really, really high? Popularly known as the “Stoned Ape” theory for obvious reasons, McKenna argues that the increased visual acuity associated with psychedelic mushrooms (commonly available where mankind evolved) became a major evolutionary advantage in hunting and examining, and that psychedelic stimulation of dormant parts of the ape brain may have resulted in the spontaneous invention of language and music. Calling this a fringe theory is like calling the Avengers movies a modest film success, but gorillas and mandrills in the Congo have been observed digging up the roots of the iboga plant to ingest the powerful hallucinogen within. Further research is needed to see whether they will develop languages, societies, and an appreciation for the music of Tangerine Dream.