Last week, a wide-eyed, tipsy squirrel in Minnesota joined in on the holiday festivities after it was seen drunkenly munching on fermented pears, reports the Guardian.
Minnesota resident Katy Morlok had found a few old pears in her refrigerator, and since she enjoyed watching her backyard critters from her window while she worked from home, she set the fruit out in a bowl for her bushy-tailed woodland friends, reports Fox 9.
Morlok watched a squirrel, affectionately named "Lil Red," snatch a pear and scamper up a tree, excited for its new snack. An hour later, the squirrel came back down the tree for a second helping. But this time, Lil Red looked a little offbeat. Perched on the porch, the squirrel dizzily swayed on its hind legs with its nose in the air and eyes wide open, gripping the edge of the bowl to keep from toppling over.
"It kind of dawned on me…oh no, those pears were so old I bet they fermented," Morlok tells Fox 9. She captured the inebriated squirrel on video before taking the fermented pears back inside, putting an end to Lil Red's drunken indulgence.
Lil Red went viral on Twitter, garnering more than two million views, reports Isobel van Hagen for Indy 100. Twitter users found Lil Red both amusing and relatable. "I've been there squirrel, just lie down for a bit," advises one Twitter user. "I wonder if squirrels get itty-bitty hangovers," another wonders. A few people worried for its safety and health, but it all worked out in the end.
"I did not mean to do that, so I went out and I grabbed all the pears," Morlok tells Fox 9. "In the morning, he came back for his little hangover breakfast, and he’s been fine ever since."
It may seem a little absurd, but wildlife getting drunk off of fermenting fruits isn't a rare occurrence. In 2011, a sloshed moose in Sweden collapsed in a tree after eating too many fermented apples that had fallen on the ground. Birds are also known to intentionally eat fermented berries, which causes them to slur their chirps and warbles. And bats also partake in the fermented feasts, though they're known to handle their alcohol well.
But animals shouldn't intentionally be given alcohol, Simon Cowell, the chief executive of the United Kingdom’s Wildlife Aid Foundation tells Harry Cockburn for the Independent. He speculates that copious amounts of alcohol could cause damage to the squirrels' internal organs.
"We have often treated animals suffering from the effects of ethanol poisoning, such as deer which have eaten too many fermented apples, and it is harrowing to see the suffering this causes," Cowell says. "Many die of the effects. The danger with videos like this, and with treating them as comic content, is that people think they are funny and try to replicate them. It is irresponsible to treat them as comedy, when in reality an animal is suffering."