Likely a type of grass to blame for intoxicated kangaroos

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Wildlife rescue workers responding to reports of “drunken” kangaroos in regional Victoria believe a common pasture crop is to blame for the animals’ ill health.

Michelle Mead, from Central Victoria’s Wildlife Rescue and Information Network, said her service had received several calls from members of the public distressed at the sight of disorientated kangaroos.

“They stagger around, they shake their heads, and look very confused and disorientated,” Ms Mead said.

Footage of affected animals posted online also shows them falling over and struggling to right themselves.

Ms Mead said the ailing kangaroos resembled someone who was under the influence of alcohol.

The wildlife worker said the animals were indeed intoxicated and that it was likely a type of grass that was to blame.

Known as phalaris or bulbous-canary grass, the introduced plant species is a common pasture crop grown to feed livestock.

Kangaroo suffering from ‘phalaris staggers’ WARNING VIDEO CONTAINS FOOTAGE THAT MAY BE DISTRESSING

Protective measures

Kangaroos that eat the grass can develop a condition known as the “phalaris staggers”, which causes head tremors, a loss of co-ordination and collapse.

There is no known cure for phalaris staggers in kangaroos.

Ms Mead explained that entire mobs that had grazed on phalaris were susceptible to the illness.

“For our rescuers who go out to attend these rescues, it can be really quite upsetting for them as well, because it is horrible to see an animal like that,” she said.

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