(AFP) – Jun 1, 2010
SYDNEY — Hundreds of seemingly drunk parrots are falling out of trees and the sky in a northern Australian town, mystifying veterinary surgeons who are struggling to care for them.
The brightly coloured lorikeets are showing classic signs of drunkenness by losing all coordination and passing out, and then cowering in cages as they recover from their "hangovers".
"They definitely seem like they're drunk," said Lisa Hansen, a veterinary surgeon at the Ark Animal Hospital in Palmerston, near Darwin.
"They fall out of trees... and they're not so coordinated as they would normally be. They go to jump and they miss the next perch."
Hansen said nobody was sure what was causing the symptoms, although it may be a plant they are eating. Other theories include an outbreak of a mystery virus.
She said the hospital, which is seeking donations, was caring for about 30 birds at a time with eight arriving each day after being scooped up from lawns and roadsides.
The birds are given sweetened porridge and fresh fruit -- the avian version of hangover food.
"It's probably the equivalent of ice-cream and cans of coke for the lorikeets," Hansen told AFP on Wednesday.
"They sit on the floor of the cage and rest their heads on the side, or they curl up in the corner and hide under the paper and block the rest of the world out."
Hansen said "drunk" lorikeets have been seen in Palmerston previously but never in such numbers, adding that the birds can die without proper care.
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