Drunken Australian Parrots

Drunken Australian Parrots


An Australian parrot, called the rainbow lorikeet, routinely gets drunk due to fermented crimson flower nectar from the Weeping Boer-bean tree.


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A slew of Australian parrots is truly going “down under” in the tropical climate. Red-collared lorikeets (rainbow lorikeets) have been found stumbling around, falling off their perches, and showing signs similar to human drunkenness. Lisa Hansen, a veterinary surgeon at the Ark Animal hospital told the London Times, “They act quite as a drunken person would. They stumble around and are very uncoordinated.”

In an article about Australia’s monsoons from the November 2004 issue of National Geographic, writer Roff Smith noticed the quirky bird’s drunken habits. 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. They chattered incessantly and chased their reflections into windows.

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 there have been over 200 birds treated and still, no one quite knows what causes their symptoms. Some of the theories include fermented nectar from a plant in their diet or an unknown virus.


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