Drug use by animals?

William Tivol tivol at news.wadsworth.org
Wed Jan 15 17:23:56 EST 1997


Laurie Davison (ldavison at pop.uky.edu) wrote:

:    I know that many mammals "will" eat fermenting fruit, but I don't know 
: that they "seek it out"... In the case of the birds, a behavior known as 
: "anting" mistakenly led scientists and others to believe that birds liked 
: alchohol.

Dear Laurie,
	Two anecdotal bird-alcohol tales not related to "anting" (AFAIK):

One house where I lived had Pyracantha vines, and blue jays would eat the
fermented berries.  After sufficient consumtion, they would dive-bomb my
cats (sometimes with unfavorable results).  I don't know whether they
also ate unfermented berries, since it was only the interaction with the
cats which caught my attention.

My parents' appartment was frequented by robins and was next door to an
ivy vine, which had berries which also fermented on the vine.  Watching
the robins cavort (apparently) drunkenly was a terrific afternoon's en-
tertainment.  Again, I don't know whether the robins ate unfermented 
berries.

In both cases, the birds seemed to enjoy both the fermented berries and
their effects.  They definitely "seek it out", but--as you point out--
I cannot say that it was the alcohol that they were after.
				Yours,
				Bill Tivol



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