Australian Parrots Are Getting Drunk on Fermented Mangoes

Red-winged parrots in Western Australia’s Kimberley region are reportedly “flying under the influence” and acting bizarrely after feasting on fermented mangoes.

We may be putting on another layer of clothes in the northern hemisphere, but Down Under it’s the end of the mango season, and red-winged parrots are reportedly taking full advantage of the last available orange fruits, even if they’re a little overripe. The problem is that mangoes are particularly sugar-rich, and can produce relatively high levels of alcohol as they ferment. Humans are unlikely to consume fruits that have reached a certain fermentation point because they have a mushy texture and a taste that is no longer considered pleasant. But to red-winged parrots, a mango is a mango, even if the ethanol level in it is likely to get them drunk.

Photo: KittyKat79/Flickr

“Once the fruits 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,” Doctor Michael Considine, an Associate Professor in Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia told

Paul Murphy, a veterinarian at Broome Veterinary Hospital, in the town of Broome, told reporters that about a half dozen “tipsy” red-winged parrots had been brought in over the past few days. These were the lucky ones, as many others reportedly died before they could be rescued, either flying into hard obstacles, being run over by cars, or being too drunk to escape predators.

Photo: Alexander Schimmeck/Unsplash

“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,” Murphy said. “Usually, they’ve been suffering for a couple of days. That’s generally when people are able to pick them up and catch them. They’re quite lethargic and at various stages of malnutrition.”

Apparently, it’s not the alcohol itself killing the birds, but the drunken behavior it induces. Parrots have been reported flying into windows, or walking around aimlessly, without worrying about cats and other predators.


Doctor Michael Considine, an Associate Professor in Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia, says that mangoes, in particular, are responsible for the red-winged parrots’ drunken behavior. The orange flesh of the tropical fruit is extremely rich in sugars can thus produce high levels of alcohol. The fact that it is denser and less watery than other tropical fruits is also a factor.

A few years back we reported the similar case of groups of opium-addicted parrots raiding poppy fields in India, despite the farmers’ best efforts to keep them at bay. There was also the story of birds drunk on fermented berries causing havoc in a Minnesota city.