What, you think that man alone actively seeks the sweet release of chemical intoxication? Child, please, the need to get tanked is ubiquitous throughout nature, and has been since we first crawled out of the primordial ooze and realised life on land wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. From frog-licking horses to puffer-chewing dolphins, here are four animals that just love to get lifted.
And it's not just an innocent bite of catnip or locoweed at the end of a tough week either. These animals are hardcore junkies that will go to any lengths to get their fix—even if that means murdering smaller, less adorable animals.
Dogs in suburban Queensland have developed a taste for cane toads, or rather, their toxic secretions. See, this invasive species is armed with a highly potent defence against predation. When threatened, it secretes a milky-white fluid known as bufotoxin which causes mild hallucinations in small doses but can easily kill a full grown human in sufficient quantities.
But the clever pooches of Queensland have apparently figured out just how much how to lick to get the mind-altering effects without getting sick. Unfortunately, many of them are turning into addicts, according to one vet, and may eventually overdose on the toxic treat.
"This phenomenon of animals deliberately getting intoxicated by cane toads, it's fascinating," said veterinarian Megan Pickering. "It just seems unbelievable that an animal will go back for a second try. But nevertheless we do have many documented cases of patients who deliberately - on a regular basis - will seek out a toad and they seem to be able to lick the toad in such a way that they seem to get a very small dose."[3News - Courier Mail]
It's not just dogs that have learned to love the toad, South American horses too have long loved licking the excretions of the waxy monkey tree frog, which produces a short-lived but intense euphoria far stronger than locoweed. However, the active chemical compound from waxy monkey tree frog film—dermorphin—has now found its way into professional stateside horse racing and could threaten to turn entire stables into junkies.
In 2012, after months of rumours of a new and powerful painkiller being employed by trainers, a Denver lab discovered more than 30 horses from four states with dermorphin metabolite in their systems.
Dr. Steven Barker, who directs a testing laboratory at Louisiana State University, told the NYT he suspected that most of the dermorphin had been artificially synthesised. "There's a lot out there, and that would be an awful lot of frogs that would have to be squeezed," he said, "There are a lot of unemployed chemists out there." [Marijuana - New York Times]
Dolphins are the hippies of the high seas. These bohemian aquatic mammals are the only other species known to have sex not just for reproduction but also just because it's fun. What's more, they've recently been observed getting absolutely blitzed on pufferfish venom.
Like the toad-licking dogs of Queensland, dolphin pods have been seen nuzzling and gently chewing on sea urchins then passing the spiny animals around for others to enjoy. By ingesting just the right amount of venom, the dolphins appear to enter a temporary trance-like state.
"This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating," Rob Pilley, a zoologist who also worked as a producer on the series, told the Sunday Times. "After chewing the puffer gently and passing it round, they began acting most peculiarly, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection."
And as if that isn't enough to crown them Caligula of the Seas, dolphins will gladly bite the head off a fish and skull fuck it in front of you. [Independent]
Deep in the jungles of Madagascar lives a population of Black lemurs who have discovered a sort of dual action bug-repellent/hallucinogen. They have been observed picking up and biting toxic millipedes, then rubbing the defensive chemical that the bug secretes all over its fur. Not only does this reportedly repel other biting insects (because nobody wants to mess with something that smells like pissed-off millipede), it also supposedly inhibits their monoamine oxidase (MAOI) system—which provides the high sensation.
Top Image: Jakub Kozak