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Wildlife authorities in Australia are struggling to deal with a spike in intoxicated kangaroos, and are being forced to euthanize the marsupials.
The animals are getting “drunk” after eating phalaris grass—also known as canary grass. This intoxication causes strange behaviour and can eventually advance to damage the central nervous system, Yahoo7 News reported.
Michelle - Mead - Central - Victoria - Wildlife
Michelle Mead, who works for the Central Victoria Wildlife Rescue and Information Network (WRIN), said the organization is receiving as many as 10 calls each week reporting kangaroos showing symptoms of the illness, known as phalaris staggers.
In this file photo, kangaroos are pictured in Sanctuary Cove on Australia's Gold Coast in Queensland, on October 22, 2014.
Alkaloids - Grass - Brain - Behaviour - Mead
“The alkaloids in the grass affects the brain and causes strange behaviour,” Mead explained. “They look like they are drunk, they stagger around and fall over and shake their heads.”
“It’s quite horrible seeing a kangaroo that’s affected and it’s hard for our rescuers,” Mead said.
Phalaris - Grass - Australia - Animals - Risk
Phalaris grass can be found across Australia, meaning many more animals are at risk. Cattle and sheep can also suffer from the illness. Australia’s Local Land Services (LLS) website says cattle often experience with swallowing paralysis, leading to “‘manic’ attempts to eat with frenzied tongue stabbing at grass.”
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