I’m a little behind the curve. I just recently heard about the vicious behavior of one of my favorite animals — otters. Despite their ridiculously adorable appearance, they can be as cruel to each other and to baby seals as humans can be to one another. Apparently, dolphins are assholes too. While animals share some of humans’ most egregious behaviors, there are some similarities between us and our animal counterparts that are pretty interesting. One of those is that it seems animals like to get high. We’re not just talking about a cat’s affinity for catnip, which in addition to making them looped also aids digestion. We’re talking about serious jonesing that leads animals to commit atrocities for a fix.
Remember Home Simpson’s affinity for toad-licking? It turns out he’s not the only one. Dogs, such as “Dobby” featured in the video below, also enjoy the hallucinogenic effects of cane toads. The secretions of the toad are meant as defenses — ingesting too much of its bufotoxin can kill an animal, or even an adult human. But in smaller quantities, it’ll make either trip out. Dogs in Queensland have figured out how to lick the toads to get the perfect amount, though it does seem that some are actually getting addicted to the stuff, which may cause some problems down the road.
In South America, horses do the same thing with the waxy monkey tree frog, which excretes dermorphin. The chemical has been used as a painkiller for horses, and seems to be spreading through stables in an artificially synthesized form.
And while they may be jerks, dolphins also enjoy some chemical enhancement. In another Simpsons similarity, they enjoy puffer fish, though not for the taste. They chew on them just enough to get the fish to release their toxic venom, and then they pass the fish around to their friends and they all commence tripping out. According to a zoologist who first got footage of the dolphins doing this, after they gnaw on the puffer they “began acting most peculiarly, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection.”
The last example is definitely the creepiest. The Black lemurs of Madagascar bite millipedes to get them to excrete cyanide, which they then rub all over themselves. This serves as a repellent, particularly for mosquitos carrying malaria, but also gets them blissed out, as it’s an MAOI inhibitor. So while we might not rub millipedes on ourselves or suck on puffer fish, it seems that intoxication is more of a common denominator than we thought. I bet we’ll see monkeys smoking bedbugs pretty soon.