Deer high on nitrous oxide ‘lose their minds’ and go crazy on leaf pile fumes

Young wild deer have been caught on camera getting high on the natural nitrous oxide that has been produced by rotting leaves.

In a clip uploaded to YouTube by JS Project Wild, groups of deer can be seen cavorting in a pile of leaves and deliberately stirring up the mulch to release more of the gas.

Recreational drug use isn’t a uniquely human habit, as dolphins have been known to get high like the deer by puffing around a puffer fish as if it were a joint.

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Discarded canisters of laughing gas have become a regular sight on city streets over the past few years, but it seems deer have known all about the effects of nitrous oxide for millennia.

The owner of the JS Project Wild account explains: “Want to see deer lose their minds and act accordingly? Supposedly decomposing leaves emit nitrous oxide, especially when the leaves are concentrated such as in a pile.

“My leaf pile is huge and some of the leaves are four years old. I periodically "stir" the pile with my loader tractor.

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“However, If the leaves on the top are dry the deer will actually dig down to the rotting leaves and then inhale. It's crazy—at different times in the video you will actually see them do this”.

The deer can be seen getting up to hilarious antics – bouncing around and even squaring up to each other in mock boxing matches.

At one point a competition starts to see which deer can be King of the Leaf Pile, with one playful buck trying to keep all the others off.

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Some people watching the video have expressed doubt that a pile of rotting leaves could produce enough Nitrous Oxide to affect an animal the size of a deer.

However Sasha Kravchenko, a plant, soil and microbial scientist from Michigan State University who wrote a study of greenhouse gas emission from natural processes, says: "Most nitrous oxide is produced in teaspoon-sized volumes of soil, and these so-called hotspots can emit a lot of nitrous oxide quickly”.


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