Tag: shrews

Tiny Tree Shrews Live on Alcohol, but Never Get Drunk

By Eliza Strickland | July 29, 2008 8:35 am

tree shrewResearchers have discovered that tiny mammals called the pen-tailed tree shrews spend hours each night sipping fermented palm nectar, but show no sign of intoxication–in other words, they don’t fall down after a nighttime binge.

The creatures live deep in the Malaysian rainforest, and have one favorite food source: the bertam palm, whose flowers have a very strong and distinctive smell. “They smell like a brewery,” [researcher Frank] Weins says. In fact, the flower buds function as brewing chambers — they have been invaded by previously unknown species of yeast, which ferment the nectar into frothy alcohol. “The maximum alcohol concentration that we recorded was 3.8 percent,” Weins says. “That’s in the range of a beer” [NPR].

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World
MORE ABOUT: alcohol, rainforest, shrews
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