Animal Intoxication And Addiction

Animals don’t have access to liquor stores, pharmacies or corner drug dealers. But the intoxicants in those drugs are found in nature — opium in poppies, alcohol in fermented fruit and berries, stimulants in coca leaves and coffee. Given the opportunity, some animals do indulge ... and get intoxicated.


Cedar waxwing birds are known to ingest fermented berries, fly while intoxicated and crash into glass walls. In Tasmania, wallabies have broken into fields where medical opium was growing, eaten the sap and got stoned.

Some animals show chronic drug-seeking behaviors. Bighorn sheep grind their teeth to the gums scraping hallucinogenic lichen off boulders in the Canadian Rockies; some Siberian reindeer seek out magic mushrooms.

A friendly cocker spaniel in Texas once sent her owners’ lives into a tailspin when she turned her attention to toad licking. As described in an NPR story, the spaniel, Lady, had been the perfect pet, until one day she got a taste of the hallucinogenic toxin on the skin of a cane toad. Soon she was obsessed with the back door, always begging to get out. She’d beeline to the pond in the backyard and sniff out the toads. Once she found them, she mouthed them so vigorously she sucked the pigment right out of their skin. According to her owners, after these amphibian benders Lady would be “disoriented and withdrawn, soporific and glassy-eyed.”

-- Barbara Natterson-Horowitz , Kathryn Bowers

from "Our Animal Natures"

Quoted on Mon Jun 11th, 2012