An Addiction Strictly for the Birds | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

An Addiction Strictly for the Birds

Ravens, magpies and other songbirds may be hooked on the ecstasy-inducing stimulation of "anting," scientists theorize.


Getting antsy Photo via

By Bryan Le


| Share

Ants: crawling all over your body. It sounds like a less-than-recreational side effect of a drug. But for some feathered "addicts," the stimulation it may provide could be the whole point. Birds' well-documented love of letting ants crawl all over them—or even slathering chewed up mouthfuls of ants onto their bodies—is called “anting, reports NPR. It's particularly popular among smarter birds like ravens and magpies. Scientist Y.C. Wee divides it into two categories: "active anting," when you pick up ants in your beak and place them on to you, and "passive anting," which involves simply lying down on an ants' nest and seeing what happens. It's not certain why birds do it. Scientists theorize, firstly, that ants transfer chemicals that repel other insects and fungi. But it may also just feel good. One British scientist assessed that "the purpose of anting is the stimulation and the soothing of the body... similar to that gained by humanity from the use of external stimulants, soothing ointments, counter-irritants (including formic acid) and perhaps also smoking." But as with human self-medication, some bird-brains let their anting progress to a point where "it has no biological purpose but is indulged in for its own stake, for the feeling of well-being and ecstasy it induces."

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv