What Animals Enjoy Altered States?
Many philosophers and scholars would argue that the trait that makes human beings so evolved is our consciousness. And proponents of altered states, including myself, would go so far as to say our inclination to understand and test that self-awareness is certainly an exciting part of the human experience. However, it is not a strictly human experience. We are not the only animals who enjoy and seek to create a different way of experiencing the world through consumption of psychoactive substances. Of course, animals are certainly not having the deep introspection and intelligent thought that we have, but probably experience the same differences in vision, energy levels, and sense of balance. These are some of the other animals we know of that commonly get high for fun.
Reindeer in Siberia have been known to consume hallucinogenic mushrooms to the point of getting high enough to stumble and prance erratically, continuously through generations. Researchers suspect that this tendency of reindeer to get high may have sparked their connection to the mythos of Santa Claus.
Dolphins are frequently compared to people in their intelligence and sexual proclivities, and they also like to feel differently from their sober selves. By playing with pufferfish that release tetrodotoxin, becoming much more relaxed than their usual observed behavior. It could be a fair assumption that dolphins were targeting puffer fish’s defense mechanism to unwind and chill out.
Wallabies might be more like their sordid cartoon personification, Rocko, than we think. Although never shown to shoot up, Rocko seems like he could have been in the stoner life, and real-life wallabies in proximity to poppy fields may have a painkiller problem. Groups have eaten poppies, circling around until they wear out.
Birds have been shown to be poor handlers of liquor when over-consuming fermented berries. Clearly not knowing their limits, birds have been seen eating fermented berries and subsequently get dizzy and uncoordinated in flight. Blackbirds and other flighted creatures have sadly even died from alcohol poisoning, unable to process the highly toxic levels.
Lemurs are yet another Australian native that like to get a little weird. Their normal diet is mainly made up of fruit, yet they go out of their way to gently nibble, not consume, millipedes. When threatened, millipedes secrete toxins including cyanide, which lemurs then rub on their fur. They exhibit symptoms of intoxication, and, you guessed it, drool heavily.
Cats are perhaps the most classic and common animals we engage with regularly by being their dealer. Not only do house cats love catnip, but big, exotic cats as well. Catnip is easily accessible as a member of the mint family and much like people and cannabis, can have a range of effects from hyperactivity to anxiety, and sleepiness or excess drool.