Last week in West Virginia one neighborhood had a bit of a scare when people saw raccoons that they thought had rabies. The critters were glassy-eyed, staggering, and falling over. Folks were alarmed enough that they called the police. When the police went out and tracked down their furry little suspects they discovered fairly quickly that the problem was not rabies at all.

Raccoon Mugshot
Raccoon Mugshot

Image via Huffington Post

It is all too common in the fall that raccoons and other animals, such as squirrels, find old fruit to nosh on. This old fruit, having fallen to the ground and starting to rot, just naturally starts to ferment. While this makes a lovely meal it also gets the animals drunk. In this case it was fallen crabapples  Where I grew up we had a very productive crabapple tree and the backyard would smell like a brewery for weeks.

Raccoon
Raccoon

Image via Wikimedia

The police trapped the raccoons and locked them up until they dried out. Trapping them was easier said than done and the police described it as "a community effort."

Don't approach raccoons (or any other wild animal) that is not acting normally. While these raccoons turned out not to be rabid, that can be a tough call to make.  A rabid raccoon can act in a similar manner. There are also other diseases that can make animals appear unsteady and disoriented.

Raccoon
Raccoon

Image via Wikimedia

Once the masked marauders had sobered up they were given a stern talking too about the dangers of public drunkenness and returned to the wild. Apparently they were real party animals.

Sources: Huffington Post, Gizmodo

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