opium addict parrots steals poppy juice
Parrots in Rajasthan slurp on the milk oozing out of cuts made in poppy podsReuters

Parrots addicted to opium are giving farmers a hard time in Chittorgarh district in the western Indian state of Rajasthan.

Hundreds of these winged thieves descend on poppy fields after farmers make cuts on the pods to ripen them.

The addicted birds then slurp on the milk oozing out of the cuts to get a high, which costs the farmers huge losses.

This photo shows a seedhead of Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum with white latex
Image shows a pod of Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum with white latex (milk) WikiCommons

This has become a headache for farmers, as opium farming is a controlled business, and if farmers report a shortfall in yield, the narcotics department look with suspicion upon them and farmers are threatened as their permits could be revoked.

According to a report, a poppy farmer from Sukwara village in Chittorgarh district said: "Once they have their fill they sit on trees and sleep there for hours. Some of them can be seen circling or staggering before falling from the trees due to overdose of opium."

Some farmers said that many of the birds are killed by predators as they become easy targets. Moreover, the "avian thieves" lose consciousness, fall from trees and die.

People in the area have tried to scare the birds away, but the addiction to the drug forces them to return to the farms.

Farmers have alleged that the parrots eat up to 5-7% of their profits every year.

"It is difficult to control these parrots. We have to spend hours in our fields to shoo them away," said another farmer from the same village. He complained that they are unable to get a full night's sleep as they had to keep returning to their farms at night to scare the birds away.

This is not the first time parrots or birds have been attacking opium fields. Farmers have claimed that this happens every year, between March and April, when parrots come to their fields and destroy crops.