In Search of Ponies: Animals can eat themselves to death

Feeling a little stuffed?

Having just survived the Thanksgiving holiday, you may be beating yourself up from that comfy spot on the couch, filled with guilt about how much food you managed to consume despite your best intentions.

Even sitting there with your belt loosened, entertaining the thoughts tumbling around in your head about another trip to the fridge, you know you’ll stop before you actually die, right?

Good, that means at least you’re not like a sheep, who can overeat to the point of a very painful demise.

Turns out there are a lot of animals out there who eat too much, some even eating their way to death, as farmers can attest when they find sheep and goats thrashing bloated on the ground.

In their cases, a pesky disease causes them to not have a time-to-stop-munching meter.

But there are others who power graze, such as horses, who, if they manage to find their way to the feed room unchecked, will suck in grain like it’s their last meal on earth only to end up with a heck of a bellyache that can lead to sleepless nights for owners and sometimes even worse for the horse.

That would be kind of like sticking your head in the fridge and not withdrawing it until it’s empty — but we all know we can at least make the leftovers last a week or so.

Many fish on the other hand, don’t do leftovers. They will eat whatever they’re given… every scrap of it, in fact. Surprisingly, the eventual result isn’t them being weighed to the bottom. To the contrary, they float to the top.

Dogs, as a general rule, inhale whatever is in front of them, stopping only when they become so full they are uncomfortable, which explains why they tend to look like barrels with little heads and feet attached as they get older.

Frogs get in such a hurry to eat sometimes that they catch little rocks and chunks of wood instead of bugs and end up dying because they’re, well for lack of a better description, corked.

Panda bears spend up to 16 hours eating each day, putting down as much as 40 pounds of food, or almost a fourth of their body weight. Luckily for them, they’re wired in such a way that most of the food passes through their systems and only part of it goes to the spare tire.

Even if not overeating into oblivion, there are other animals out there that don’t watch the daily recommended percentages either.

Interestingly, a recent study showed that rather than overeating starchy and fatty foods to get a little protein as humans do, mountain gorillas overeat in the opposite direction, consuming more high-protein food sources for most of the year in an effort to get their carbs and fat.

Closest to humans, lab rats, according to a study last year, develop a compulsive love of high fat and sweet foods that is comparable to a heroine addiction, driving them to grow quickly obese. But they don’t go to the point of eating themselves to an immediate death, perhaps knowing that to do so, means no more bacon or cheesecake.

So rest comfortably in knowing you are not the only one in the animal kingdom who maybe eats a little more than they should sometimes — and unless you plan to keep shoveling till Christmas or eat until you’re rolling around in the front yard bleating in pain — enjoy the feast season.

After all, why should the turkey be the only one at the table who’s stuffed?