Anyone with pets knows animals are just like us. They enjoy sleeping on our beds, detest going out in the rain and have a hard time losing weight.
Now comes a scientific report that shows animals in the wild often do something we think of as distinctly human: They self-medicate. However unlike the destructive form that self-medication takes in the human world (too much drinking, drugs, smoking), for an array of animals it takes on the constructive form of ingesting or using plants and chemical substances to treat themselves therapeutically as well as prophylactically.
And it doesn’t take an animal with a higher cognitive ability, such as chimpanzees (which eat herbs to treat their maladies.) According to an article published online Thursday in the journal Science, “The growing list of animal pharmacists includes moths, ants, and fruit flies.”
The authors of “Self-Medication in Animals” looked at creatures that specifically sought out sources of natural medicine that were not plants or substances they would eat for nutrition. They appeared to be either treating symptoms of parasitic infections or trying to prevent themselves and their offspring from getting infections.