Canadian raccoons are dealing with a rash of drunk raccoons.
Raccoons are creatures with some renown in Canadian metropolises. They’re highly intelligent and can use their hand-like paws to get in almost anywhere, including so-called “raccoon-proof” containers. Nothing stops these little grey mammals from getting at food, and it has allowed them to survive and even thrive in the Anthropocene where so many other woodland creatures have failed.
They’re also not very picky when it comes to what they eat. They’ll eat anything, from garbage to rotten fruits and vegetables. And that’s become a bit of a problem in the Canadian town of Stittsville, Ontario.
It’s late summer, and around this time of year, fruit starts ripening and falling off of various fruit trees. Berries and crab apples are the most common plant varieties, providing a veritable smorgasbord for raccoons.
However, it’s also been a fairly warm summer, and the latent heat means that ripened fruit is starting to ferment. Fermenting fruit produces alcohol, so when the raccoons inevitably sniff out a crab apple tree and chow down, they get drunk. Really, really drunk.
Stittsville resident Emily Rodgers told the CBC that she spotted a raccoon wobbling, dragging its legs, and generally having a "hard time standing," all clear signs that it had been up all night gorging on rotten crab apples and was now doing it's best to hold everything together.
"You could tell something was wrong with him for sure," she said.
Michael Runtz, a biology professor at Carleton University, told the CBC that late summer is the ideal time to spot day-drunk raccoons, and if local residents are concerned they can call the local bylaw office.
"Don't try to give them coffee and get them sobered up, just let them go their course," Runtz said. "If you're really concerned about the animal, call ... some of the animal control officers to come have a look at it."
Once secured by an animal control officer, raccoons are taken to the local Humane Society or to a veterinarian, depending on the time of day. There, inebriated creatures can sleep off their hangovers in relative comfort before being released back into the wild.