This Rodent can Drink You Under the Table…

Rachel Zelkowitz of ScienceNOW Daily News has a report on the pen-tailed tree shrew (Ptilocercus lowii) of Malaysia; more specifically, on it’s diet of alcoholoc palm nectar.

The flowers of the ever-blooming bertam palm contain yeast cells, which ferment the plant’s nectar, producing alcohol levels of up to 3.8%. As discovered by Frank Wiens of the University of Bayreuth in Germany, the pen-tailed tree shrews feed on this nectar more than any other food, drinking for an average of 138 minutes per night. Based on the rate of drainage, Wiens and his team computed that the tree shrews meet or surpass the level of 1.4 g of alcohol per kilogram of body mass (the legal intoxication limit) about once every three days. While they could not check the blood alcohol content of the rodents, hair analysis for an alcohol breakdown product showed results almost sixty times that which marks excessive drinking in a human. Presumably, the animals have a more efficient process for metabolizing alcohol to possess such a noteworthy ethanol tolerance.


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