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By Jason Offutt
The problem starts slowly. So slowly you don’t realize it is a problem until someone knocks you down and takes your watch.
First, there may be rustling in the bushes. Or maybe loud music in the trees. Or maybe, just maybe your yard gnomes are covered in spray paint and all the food’s gone from the fridge.
Then the horror hits you – the crack squirrels are in your yard.
In New York, Washington, D.C., and London, drug addicts have taken to stashing crack rocks in people’s yards like, uh, well, like squirrels hiding nuts for the winter.
But the crackheads have invaded the wrong rodent’s turf.
Once friendly, playful squirrels are reportedly digging up crack cocaine from people’s yards and eating it.
“I was chatting with my neighbor who told me that crack users and dealers sometimes use my front garden to hide bits of their stash,” said an anonymous source from a story in the South London Press. “An hour earlier I’d seen a squirrel wandering round the garden, digging in the flowerbeds. It looked like it knew what it was looking for.
“It was ill-looking, and its eyes looked bloodshot, but it kept on desperately digging.”
But animals getting high isn’t a new phenomenon. Scientists have known for years that it’s common for critters to get a buzz on.
“Animals even seek out psychoactive substances,” according to the academic paper “Wild Health,” by Cindy Engel, Ph.D. “They get drunk on fermented fruit, hallucinate on mushrooms, become euphoric with opium poppies.”
It’s true. I’ve seen it happen. Growing up on a farm, we used to cut down wild marijuana plants and toss them into the hog lot. The pigs loved it.
Yeah, who wouldn’t want to party with those guys?
But stoned animals in the wild are fine, as long as they’re not driving. Stoned animals on city streets is a problem – society’s problem.
Veterinary care rates will skyrocket, animal-control officers will be spread too thin, and there will be a growing number of squirrels out of work.
And an idle squirrel is a dangerous squirrel.
So, if you hear some chattering in the trees above you, watch out. It could be the crack squirrels coming to steal your watch.
They’ll do anything to get a fix.
Jason Offutt’s column has been in continuous publication since 1998 appearing in newspapers and magazines across the United States. Follow Jason on Twitter @TheJasonOffutt.