Goats: The Unexpected Fiends

It doesn’t stop with catnip or dogs that like to drink beer; animals enjoy the psychoactive effects of plants as much as we do. In fact, history tells us that humans often discover psychoactive plants by observing the inebriated behavior of animals that eat them. Could it be coincidence that the animals are getting high? Yes, of course; but when the creatures go back time and time again to consume an apparently toxic plant, it makes you believe that they do it for enjoyment!

Goats have been getting higher than humans for a long, long time. Some mammals may accidentally consume psilocybin mushrooms, but there’s no question goats do it on purpose. They even get possessive about them: One goat kicked ethnobotanist Giorgio Samorini in the chest for intruding on his herd’s patch of magic mushrooms. The goat then proceeded to devour all the ‘shrooms the poor scientist had already collected.

It’s certain that goats appreciate psychedelics, but they seem to have a fondness for uppers as well. Goats were nibbling on khat leaves and coffee beans long before humans got into the act. The stories regarding the discovery of both by humans start out alike: A devoted goatherd gets curious about his animals’ strange behavior, finds the leaf or red berry they’re eating, and then decides to try it himself. Nowadays, khat use extends from West Africa through the Arabian Peninsula. And, of course, coffee is a quasi-addiction for hundreds of millions of caffeine fiends around the world.

Anthropologists suggest that Native Americans discovered mescal beans, which have been ingested for over 9,000 years, by watching animals eat them. And goats love mescal—after eating a few beans, they tremble and fall to the ground, only to wake back up and eat some more.

To read more, check out the full article Animals on Drugs in the May 2015 issue of High Times Magazine. For more specific information, read Georgio Samorini’s book Animals and Pschedelics: The Natural World and the Instinct to Alter Consciousness.

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