Hard drinking starlings

Taking a restI have just learnt that the European Starling can take its drink. Alcohol is metabolised, in starlings and in us, by an enzyme called Alcohol Dehydrogenase. By weight starlings have approximately 14 times as much Alcohol Dehydrogenase activity as we do. The data are in a paper by Prinzinger and Hakimi.  I will now look at starlings with new respect.

You may be asking yourself, why do European Starlings have this impressive ability to take their drink? Fruit is a major part of the diet of starlings. Fallen fruit tends to ferment of course, which produces alcohol. So it may be that starlings have evolved a high tolerance to booze to allow them to eat lots of fallen fruit without then being reduced to zig-zagging across the sky in a rather drunken way.

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