Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Raccoon

Raccoons sure are cute little animals. As long as they don't take up residence in your house, that is. My neighbour investigated strange noises in his attic a few days ago, and discovered a mother raccoon had moved in. She crawled up a hollow post that supports the roof over his entrance and made herself right at home, and proceeded to give birth to three little raccoons.

He chased her out with noise; first a loud radio, and then an air compressor. Until this morning, she lived in the neighbour's honeysuckle jungle that overhangs our mutual fence.

Today, when my little dog wouldn't stop barking, I went outside to investigate. There she was, standing on the fence, threatening to attack my dog. I'm pretty sure she would rip him to pieces, as he is just fourteen pounds. I threw pebbles at the metal ladder below her, and the noise scared her away. I watched as she reappeared with a baby in her mouth. She climbed along the fence and I tossed more pebbles at the ladder. She dropped the baby into the honeysuckle, and dared me to approach her. There's nothing like a wild animal guarding its babies, so I just made enough noise to scare her.

I decided to stay back, camera in hand and observe her. It wasn't long until she had that baby by the scruff of its neck once again, and she climbed up the fence with it and down the other side into our front yard. I ran around the house to catch the tail end of her disappearing into our boat! We have a tarp over the boat that is snapped tightly in place, and she squeezed in through the outboard motor.

The challenge was how to get rid of her in a humane way. First, we frightened her out of the boat by shaking it and making noise. She was on the attack, ready to defend her babies, but a quick spray of water with the garden hose made her run away. Not far, though; she stayed about twenty feet away, hiding behind a flower pot, waiting to see what our plans were for her babies.

Using the fishing net, we scooped each baby out of the bow of the boat where she had concealed them, and set the little raccoon down where mama could see it. I directed them away from our yard by spraying the hose underneath the boat, and each time a baby was freed, the mother ran over to it and shielded it with her body, while anxiously waiting for the next one.

Who says raccoons can't count? She knows she has three babies and she's not budging until the last one comes out!

It only took about fifteen minutes before the raccoon family was trotting down the street looking for new digs. I hope she finds a secure place to raise her family.


Shirley said...

Great pictures! Good thing you got them to move on to new digs; they can be a real pest. This is one wild critter that adapted well to urban life, they just move in and take over!

Therese said...

no raccoons down under thank goodness. My sil did have a possum in her roof once. They rang the National parks who came in with a box that trapped them and then released them in one of the National parks.

Venite, Missa est! said...

It's nice you could get rid of them. They are cute but can be pests and dangerous! They are quite inquisitive which gets them into trouble.

Hail3N1 said...

Great work! Last year, a huge racoon kept trying to get into my neighbor's garbage can; we had to go out 3 times before we could scare it away.
The last two summers, we've had a fawn (baby deer) just lying in the back yard for days. I called the city parks dept, and they said, the mother will return, even if its as long as several days, but she will usually return at dusk. Lo and behold, we're sitting out back and the mama comes out of nowhere and walks slowly up to the baby and the baby knew it was time to go. The parks/animal dept said that sometimes the mother may have 2 little ones and will leave each one at seperate locations for fear of a predator attacking both of them. They also said, that the mama knows how her baby is doing because she is not far away.