This book explores how animals keep themselves well in the wild.
It has long been documented that wild animals heal themselves with herbs. Folklore, legends and traditional medicine lay claim to such feats of self-medication by animals. Until recently, though, scientists have been reluctant to accept these stories, dismissing them as romantic anthropomorphism. But things are changing as more and more scientists uncover examples of insects, birds and mammals self-medicating their ills. Monkeys, bears, coatis and birds protect themselves from insect bits and fungal infections by rubbing bioactive plants and insect secretions into their skin. Chimpanzees carefully select bitter-tasting anti-parasitic plant medicines to deal with parasites. Elephants roam miles to find the clay they need to help counter dietary toxins. And birds line their nests with pungent medicinal leaves and so improve their chick’s chances of survival.
This book--the first general overview of the emerging science of zoopharmacognosy--explores the behavioural strategies animals use to maintain health. Many of these strategies can be exploited to improve the health of animals in our care. By observing wild health we may even discover (or rediscover) ways to benefit out own health.