Mystery Illness Plagues Parrots

06.09.2010 · Posted in Medical Mystery, Miscellaneous

drunklorikeet Parrots in Palmerston, Australia, are acting like drunken fools, but veterinarians aren’t sure why. In the wild, the red-collared lorikeets fly clumsily, fall out of trees, pass out, and appear to have hangovers the next day.

The cause could be a dietary or a virus, and the vets suspect it is fermented nectar. The parrots can’t tell the difference between fermented and unfermented nectar, so they don’t know not to drink it. At least they aren’t intentional drunks. Once intoxicated, the birds’ mood changes from kind of “obnoxious” to “friendly and jovial,” according to Veterinarian Lisa Hansen. I guess they aren’t imbibing enough to go full circle back to obnoxious like people do sometimes, especially in college.

As the more entertaining effects wear off, the birds get headaches (how do vets know that?), are lethargic, and seem really bummed out, much like humans with hangovers. The vets at the Ark Animal Hospital treat the birds with the avian equivalent of a college hangover cure: sweetened porridge and fresh fruit.

The possibility of an unknown illness still exists, however, so vets are still concerned about the parrots.

– Julie


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