Wednesday, February 22, 2023

NYT: Animals can't hold their liquor

In the New York Times, this story on animals getting into human food, with this interesting sidebar about alcohol: 
Humans are not always the source of intoxicants. Think Wild Central Oregon, which runs a wildlife hotline and hospital, regularly treats cedar waxwings that have become intoxicated after eating fermented berries.

“They look pretty wobbly,” said Molly Honea, the organization’s development and communications coordinator. “Because of that disorientation and uncoordination, they end up striking windows.”

The hospital treats the birds’ injuries and provides supportive care for their inebriation. “We do stick them in the oxygen tank and get them rehydrated,” Ms. Honea said.

Stories have also circulated about other animals — including bears, elk and, perhaps most famously, elephants — that get “drunk” after eating fermented fruit. Such anecdotal reports are not always reliable, and some experts have argued that large creatures would have to consume an improbable amount of fruit to become intoxicated.

But a genetic analysis published in 2020 suggested that species varied widely in their ability to metabolize alcohol. “Overall, as a species, we’re pretty darn good at it,” said Amanda Melin, a biological anthropologist and ecologist at the University of Calgary and an author of the study. “So something that we can tolerate fairly well might be enough to severely inebriate another species.”

Next time you find yourself getting into a poker game with a rabbit or a cedar waxwing, looks like you should encourage them to have a beer or two. 

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looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20