Now that mango season is over, the fallen fruit is beginning to ferment in the hot sun, providing a boozy snack for local parrots.
Over the last week, Broome Veterinary Hospital has treated half a dozen red-winged parrots after they have consumed ethanol as a result of eating the fermented fruit.
Broome veterinarian Paul Murphy has said that there have been many lucky birds brought into the clinic that he has treated.
“So far, we’ve seen about half a dozen in total, but there are a lot of them, unfortunately, that don’t make it to the clinic because they pass away before people find them.”
Surprisingly it is not just the alcohol content that is killing the birds, but their “drunken behaviour” played a major part in it.
“We’re hearing a few reports of flying into windows and sitting on the floor, not being able to fly and being vulnerable to cats and other predators,” Murphy said.
It sounds like drunk parrots act just like drunk humans.
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“They’re quite lethargic and at various stages of malnutrition.”
Scholars suggest that the reason why red-winged parrots seem to be the only birds affected by fermenting mangoes is because they are the only widley available fruit throughout the Kimberley region that ferment potently.
“Once the fruit are ripe, the next phase will be fermentation where the sugars will take the pathway to become alcohol and that process makes the aroma compounds volatile which attract the birds and other animals.” Dr. Michael Considine, an Associate Professor in Plant Molecular Biology said.
Mangoes ferment strongly due to the fact that the fruit itself is so rich in sugar, therefore there are higher levels of alcohol in these fruits compared to others.
We hope the parrots don’t end up with killer hangovers, since they can’t really have a greasy brunch to help cure one.