The Right Medicine

Observations of animals in the wild eating foods to self-medicate abound, but what about animals raised as livestock? Can they be taught to self-medicate? To answer this question, researchers from Utah State University fed sheep three different foods, each spiked with a substance that caused a different kind of illness-acid stomach, poor digestion or low calcium intake. After eating, the sheep were presented with three other foods, each blended with a single antidote for one of the ailments. Their report, published online in the May issue of the journal Animal Behavior, reveals these intelligent animals quickly learned to choose the right antidote and could remember the correct choice five months later.

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