Meet the Malaysian pen-tailed tree shrew! As adorable as this little critter might be, you wouldn’t have guessed that it’s an alcoholic if it weren’t for the title of this post.
If you challenged the pen-tail tree shrew to a drinking contest, I’d imagine it would would burst out laughing because that’s all it ever does. Where humans drink alcohol to chill out, have fun or forget, the pen-tailed tree shrew drinks to survive.
100% Alcohol Diet
Yes that’s right, the Malaysian pen-tailed tree shrew’s everyday diet consists of fermented nectar seeping from flower buds of the Bertram plant, which is very abundant in the jungles of Malaysia.
The nectar it feeds off can reach up to 3.8% percent in alcohol content and when these guys get to feeding, they consume what is approximately equivalent to 12 glasses of wine in under 2 hours, which would be a challenge even for the most experienced drinkers.
While there have been documented occurrences of other animals consuming alcohol (eg: bats, birds and humans of course), no other living creature on the planet has the fortitude to consistently go on benders like the pen-tailed tree shrew.
If us humans were to have a diet consisting exclusively of alcohol, we’d die within a few years or less from illnesses related to the liver, heart, kidney, get brain damage or a combination of all these ailments.
Fortunately for the pen-tailed tree shrew, they’re not so frail as us humans and have developed a mechanism in their bodies which allows them to indulge in copious amounts of alcohol without ever getting intoxicated.
Connection To Humans
Interestingly, the Malaysian pen-tailed tree shrew shares many similarities to the last common ancestor of all living primates (which includes humans).
Researchers have theorised that this ancestor also consumed moderate to high levels of alcohol which could explain why modern day humans have some tolerance towards alcohol as well.
If scientists manage to find out why these animals can drink the way they do, that discovery could potentially be used to develop medicines which help people deal with alcohol poisoning.
For now though, all we can do is wait, see and raise our glasses to this adorable little party animal.
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