LIKE TO NIP
perennial internet favorites seek out a certain chemical in
catnip (Nepeta cataria), called nepetalactone. The mechanism
of action is unknown at this time, but what is well known is
how cats react when they sense it nearby. They want it.
cats notice catnip, they rush over to the stuff. They begin
pawing at it, chewing, licking, and generally rolling around
like a happy cat. Cats have scent glands on sides of their heads
and their paws. So by rubbing it and rolling around, they are
claiming that pile of catnip for themselves while also showing
you’ll see classic symptoms of being high including laying
around, drooling, sleeping, jumping around excitedly, growling,
purring, biting, and meowing at unseen objects. This isn’t
limited to the housecat — big cats like tigers, ocelots,
panthers also love the stuff.
a third of domestic cats can’t experience the good vibes.
Stupid recessive genes.
other best friend at home also enjoys getting high. Dogs enjoy
licking the toxic secretions of the cane toad (Rhinella marina).
Dogs will repeatedly seek out the cane toad, bother them so
they produce a milky-white secretion containing bufotenin or
5-HO-DMT, and lick it up. That’s right, That DMT.
consumption, dogs may lie down and experience pupil dilation.
They also become agitated and seem very euphoric, while tracking
unseen objects or even chasing and attempting to catch whatever
they see. It’s a serious problem in Australia, where the
cane toad was introduced to control beetle populations and has
become a successful invasive species.
problem comes when the dog gets too hooked. If they eat the
toad or lick up too much, they may have a seizure and could
fall into a coma. If you’re a total square and find your
dog chasin’ the toad, wear gloves, remove the toad, then
use paper towels to try and wipe away as much toxin as possible.
But if you got a junkie dog, it’s time to install a mesh
fence that goes at least half a foot or 15cm into the ground.
Bufotenin is illegal in many places, but I doubt the police
will arrest your hippie dog.
JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN
of Australia, did you know Australia is the world’s largest
legal producers of opium poppies for medicinal use? Well, the
local wallaby population has certainly noticed. Farmers report
that wallabies eat the poppy pods, and then becomes so excited
and happy they jump around in circles until they fall over in
exhaustion, producing crop circles.
VERVET MONKEY BUSINESS
getting their fix from fermented sugar cane, the green vervet
monkeys of St. Kitts have found a better way to get drunk —
stealing the unattended drinks of human tourists. They will
sneak in and snatch the brightly coloured cocktails. But the
most interesting part of it is that they drink like we do.
will drink a little bit; some will drink steadily; others will
drink themselves to the point where they pass out. A few monkeys
will refuse to drink altogether, only liking soft drinks. Like
frat boys, their eusocial habits seem to give more respect to
those who can drink the most. Sadly they have yet to discover
beer bong technology, showing our superior intelligence.
of our dopamine pathways involved with our ‘reward mechanism’
has found that what is true in people is true in the green vervets.
They may end up being extremely useful in our studies of alcoholism.
It’s not exactly possible to root around the skull of
a human alcoholic without finding yourself on the news as the
Beast of Brighton Beach.
green vervet monkey isn’t the only intelligent mammal
that enjoys getting drunk — the elephant too loves alcohol.
While the stories of them eating fermented fruit or using their
own stomachs as fermenting pots have proven to be a myth, that
doesn’t mean they don’t want a drink. Like the monkeys,
they steal ours. But the monkeys only deliver a small painful
bite, while these multi-ton creatures can kill.
destruction of the elephants’ native habitat means they
are more and more likely to run into people and notice that
our food is pretty tasty. The problem comes when the local farmers
are brewing rice beer. The elephants smash huts to steal food,
wash it down with beer, and then go on drunken rampages. After
stealing homebrewed rice beer a group of elephants destroyed
a village. In another case, three people died after a raiding
party of drunk elephants trampled them to death.
is a frustrating area because it deals with an unusual creature
that’s not normally thought of at all — the lichen.
Lichen are composite organisms, consisting of photosynthetic
algae and/or cyanobacteria and fungus living in a mutually beneficial
symbiotic relationship. The fungus relies on the algae or bacteria
to produce food, while the algae or bacteria relies on the fungus
to provide it with a safe home in inhospitable environments.
They’re immensely successful, found nearly everywhere
Sheep are said to leave the safety of their normal bedding or
feeding areas to find a certain variety of lichen. Since lichen
can live anywhere, they always seem to end up on perilous cliff
sides where the bighorns scramble up to scrape them off. They
so much enjoy scraping the lichen, they can erode their teeth
to nothing and starve. They may even fall to their deaths in
their pursuit. Indigenous peoples later discovered the lichen
not unusual to hear of fungi producing hallucinogenic chemicals.
With so many other animals perfectly happy to eat hallucinogens,
the only crime is that this is such a poorly researched area.
There’s only scant references in literature to indigenous
peoples using lichen for this purpose. No one seems to have
done the needful and tried to capture whatever mystery molecule
is so compelling.
in the Siberian tundra of Russia’s Far East, reindeer
would search for fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) mushrooms to
eat. After eating them, they would behave almost drunkenly.
Running around aimlessly, twitching and making unusual sounds.
However, the fly agaric mushroom contains other toxic alkaloids,
making it unpleasant and unsafe to consume straight. But there’s
a way around that.
seem to be able to eat them safely, and like some other drugs,
the active ingredients pass mostly unchanged in the urine, although,
the more toxic elements seem to have been eliminated. Shamans
would occasionally drink this urine to enter trance like states,
and their followers would drink the shaman’s urine to
trip. It’s said it can make you feel like you’re
flying, which some people have immediately tied to the myth
of Father Christmas or Santa Claus and his flying reindeer.
Sadly, that too seems to be a double-myth.
COLONY COLLAPSE SYNDROME
don’t typically think of ants as anything but industrious
drones. They have a complex social life despite being tiny and
it seems that another insect has taken advantage of what seems
to be a universal drive for intoxication. Lomechusa strumosa
beetles live in ant colonies themselves. They have evolved trichomes,
yes just like the trichomes on cannabis plants, which secrete
some sort of aromatic, volatile oil. The ants lick these up
so enthusiastically that it is called ‘lomechusa-mania.’
They even treat the beetle larvae better than their own larvae,
sometimes rescuing beetle larvae first. Whole colonies can be
devastated by this obsession.
BEING AND BUZZING
the wallaby, we enjoy consuming the opiate laced seed pods of
the poppy. Like the green vervet monkeys, we sometimes use alcohol
as a way to show our dominance over our peers. We go on drunken
rampages as well as elephants do, though we have to make do
with drink driving to do the same degree of damage since we
ourselves do not weigh several tons. Like the dog, we enjoy
chemicals related to DMT and may follow imaginary objects. Meth
addicts extract the drug for consumption like the shamans did
for the mushrooms of the arctic circle. Like the bighorn sheep,
we risk life and limb to get high. And like the ants suffering
from lomechusa-mania, we may lead our entire family to ruin
is lazy. Given the entire toolkit of physics and chemistry,
we see the same few chemicals reused over and over again. Nature’s
bounty means that when you get enough brain cells together,
they will inevitably be affected by a reused molecule somewhere
else, hijacking that response. Seeking to get high, is natural,
just as is the fact that we are refusing to acknowledge it.
Once we acknowledge this biological and medical fact, we can
start to have a better world and quit this failed War on Drugs.