Vervet monkeys developed their taste for alcohol after gorging on fermented sugarcane
In St Kitts be sure to look after your drink, as these rascals may swipe it when you’re not looking
The picturesque Caribbean island of St Kitts has a problem. Alcoholics are running wild and causing mischief and mayhem but unfortunately it’s not a problem for the police as the addicts in question are vervet monkeys.
Introduced to the island as pets in the 17th century, they were brought over from Africa, however a wild population soon established. They quickly developed a taste for alcohol after munching on the abundance of fermented sugar cane (St Kitts is a rum-producing island).
Today these primates have found another way to feed their addiction. Sneaking around the treetops, they eagerly wait for the opportune moment a holidaymaker leaves their drink unattended, then they clamber down to steal the leftovers. The island is quite literally overrun with drunken monkeys.
And it is no exaggeration. The bad behaviour has become so commonplace that scientists have started to objectively research the effects of alcohol in primates, with a view to find links related to human alcoholism.
The study managed to categorise the monkeys into four types: binge drinker, steady drinker, social drinker, and teetotal. The vast majority of the monkeys are social drinkers and will only partake in such behaviour when they are with others; these monkeys tend to prefer alcohol that has been mixed with fruit juice, such as cocktails. At the other end of the spectrum, the binge drinkers drink until they pass out and prefer to drink neat spirits; starting fights with other monkeys and causing trouble.
Image from www.flickr.com/photos/stuutje