Four-legged 420 Club: New Book Asserts Animals Get Stoned Too

07/01/2011

Reindeer Apparently humans are not the only ones who enjoy a little mind-altering substance from time to time, according to neuroscientist David J. Linden in his new book, “The Compass of Pleasure,” which has a rather lengthy subtitle: “How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning and Gambling Feel So Good.”

In his new book, Linden writes about many examples in nature of animals seeking, enjoying and even fighting over mind-altering substances and getting stoned on pretty much whatever they can get their claws on.

Linden asserts that intoxication with psychoactive drugs is not an exclusively human proclivity. Animals in the wild will also voluntarily and repeatedly consume psychoactive plants and fungi and Linden highlights the following examples :

Pass the Iboga on the Left Hand Side

1) Birds, elephants, and monkeys have all been reported to enthusiastically seek out fruits and berries that have fallen to the ground and undergone natural fermentation to produce alcohol.

2) In Gabon, which lies in the western equatorial region of Africa, boars, elephants, porcupines, and gorillas have all been reported to consume the intoxicating, hallucinogenic iboga plant (Tabernanthe iboga).

3)  In the highlands of Ethiopia, goats cut the middleman out of the Starbucks business model by munching wild coffee berries and catching a caffeine buzz.

Reindeer Games Are Indeed More Fun

The most dramatic example of nonnutritive animal intoxication is found among domesticated reindeer. The Chuckchee people of Siberia, who are reindeer herders, consume the bright red hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria as a ritual sacrament. Their reindeer also indulge. Having discovered the mushrooms growing wild under the birch trees, they gobble them up and then stagger around in a disoriented state, twitching their heads repeatedly as they wander off from the rest of the herd for hours at a time.

What do you think?

Are these wild animals consuming these hallucinogens due to an inborn need for intoxication or are they just willing to put up with them as a side effect of consuming a valuable food source?


Follow fascinating, funny, tragic or otherwise compelling and timely stories about animals, as chosen by our editors and writers, including Daily Treat blogger, Janet McCulley.
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