Australia’s Drunken Birds Are Getting Hangovers

Inebriated Rainbow Lorikeets are suffering from headaches.

Australians have always had a reputation for loving alcohol – and it seems our animals love getting in on the act too.

Rainbow lorikeets have often been found stumbling around, falling off their perches and showing signs similar to human drunkenness.

“They act quite like a drunken person would. They stumble around and are very uncoordinated,” says Lisa Hansen, a veterinary surgeon at the Ark Animal Hospital in the Northern Territory.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, however. Aussies have come to expect the seemingly inebriated parrots each year at the end of Darwin’s wet season, which typically lasts between November and May.

Australian rainbow lorikeets

The only drunks we saw were rainbow lorikeets, a noisy flock of them, stoned on the overripe and fermenting fruit scattered beneath the huge mango tree that shaded the homestead at Vanrook Station” noted National Geographic writer Roff Smith.

“They chattered incessantly and chased their reflections into windows. Humans, it seems, aren’t the only creatures around here susceptible to a touch of mango madness.”

The birds appear to suffer from headaches, disorientation, and general lethargy (sounds awfully like hangover symptoms) after they have been treated. And what is their treatment?

Two rainbow lorikeets

Sweetened porridge and fresh fruit – the bird equivalent of greasy food the morning after.

But, as with humans, the intoxication of these birds is not really a laughing matter. Some take months to recover while others have died from the mysterious illness.

This year, hundreds of birds have been treated and yet no one quite knows what causes their symptoms. Some of the theories include a fermented nectar from a plant in their diet or an unknown virus.

Dubbed by some as the “drop lorry” or “drunken lorikeet disease,” this yearly phenomenon doesn’t seem to be easing up anytime soon.

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