Apparently animals dig otherworldly experiences, too. Take this jaguar for instance, who seeks out and then happily munches on the Banisteriopsis caapi vine located in rainforests of South America.
Ayahuasca AKA yajé is a tea brewed by shamas known for its psychoactive effects. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the role of Banisteriopsis caapi in the making of ayahuasca.
It contains harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine, all of which are both beta-carboline harmala alkaloids and MAOIs. The MAOIs in B. caapi allow the primary psychoactive compound, DMT (which is introduced from the other primary ingredient in ayahuasca, the Psychotria viridis plant), to be orally active. The stems contain 0.11-0.83% beta-carbolines, with harmine and tetrahydroharmine as the major components
From what I understand, a human wouldn’t get this effect from eating the yajé vine alone. It would have to be mixed with other plant matter to reach its full, trippy effect. Perhaps a jaguar’s liver processes the plant differently? I don’t know.
What is known is that many animals “self medicate”—take for instance when your dog eats grass, it’s probably trying to bring on vomiting. Pregnant elephants in Kenya have been observed eating the leaves of certain trees to induce delivery. Some species of lizards are believed to eat a certain root to counter the venom of poisonous snake bites.
And as we’re reminded every holiday season (on websites just like this one) reindeer located in the Arctic Circle are known to eat the Amanita muscaria mushroom, an especially strong “magic” mushroom. Maybe that’s how Santa’s reindeer achieve lift off…