The two “Camps” of Raccoons

The jury is out on raccoons.
There are two camps.
I am in the sleep-deprived-middle on this one.

This is not my raccoon, but I thought it was a CUTE picture

1. The Cute Camp:  Three years ago, when I first saw that raccoon, it was enchanting!  I must have taken 30 shots of that cute little thing.  (Oh it wasn’s so little, but at first sight, I thought what a cute little thing!)  It was behind the house right outside of our bedroom during the afternoon.  I was fascinated when I saw how it crawled up the side of the small sycamore tree. It could crawl up anywhere, I mused.   It amazed me, as it changed its mind and crawled up the 2×4 holding up the lattice structure over the spa.  I was EXCITED!  How adorable!  I photographed every move and ran inside to get my phone camera to share. How cute.  This was the cutest animal ever with those little masked eyes.

Then I sent one of my famous Mass-Text Messages to family and friends.  If you know me, you know the ones.  I get excited and text a 4-5 page message complete with photos… to everybody!  Well, this time I reached the limit of ten per send, and sent another 10 and then another.  I had raccoons and they were so cute!

As I got the results back, I was amazed at the varied responses.
There was one of two responses.
Black and white.
Hot and cold.
Yes or no.
Cute or Careful.
How could it be?
Solidly in the Cute Camp, I thought, how could anyone dislike such an adorable animal?

Experience! Experience is the answer.
People in the careful camp have all shared an experience.

2 The Careful Camp:  The truth is this—- I heard this:  Those adoble racoons can wreck a lot of havoc.  They are busy, especially at night.  They love the larger fish in ponds and they have them for dinner.  They will eat your garden and love variety.  They won’t hesitate to eat trash.  They love to make their den in the attic  of houses and destroy a lot of property. (And, I found out personally, they will drive my little dogs crazy and make them bark all night long. )  They also love dog and cat food.

Map of Devils Slide -For those of you who know of the cable car tram that goes up the mountain from Palm Springs… This is how to get up to the top of Mount Jacinto from the OTHER side.

Some folks in the careful camp called them “dirty devils”.  Surely that was extreme?  (you know how you can easily read a text with the wrong connotation, so I instantly dismissed that one as ‘surely you jest’ and chuckled and dismissed that thought all together).   I should have known.  Wasn’t it I that stated that I am going to beware of anything that has the name devil in it?  A trail on Idlewild named  Devil’s Slide convinced me of that.  It was not a misnomer.  And I decided that anything with “Devil” in the name of it is giving you a little clue as to its nature…

Anyway…

For years, we had a bunny over population around here.  A bunny population explosion, you may call it.  I called them ALL the “Welcome Bunny”, because everytime you came home there were 5-6 bunnies eating our lawn and welcoming us home.   This lead to what the Pest control man is quoted as calling our neighborhood  “the Sunset Drive Island of Flea infestation”.  Aren’t we blessed?  And we did have fleas on and off for years. It was a battle that I dont want to relive.  We were told that we couldn’t win because of the poor bunnies.  They had them and they were sharing them with our dogs. That was the honest situation, but fortunately, we don’t have fleas anymore.  The eco-system is always changing.  Now we have ferrel cats.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, cats prey upon the latter and cats clean themsleves constantly.  So we now have cats instead of bunnies in the front and back yard. (Although I do have at least 3 Bunny”regulars” back by my garden)

So, two years ago, when a ferrel cat had some kittens in our garage we were delighted.  We didn’t choose them. They just chose our street and our garage.
It’s cool, plenty of acreage for all.  We ended up raising some of those kittens becasue we accidentally disturbed her nest… twice.  What bad luck that was, because, being a good mama,  she tried to move them from us,  but dropped them down a sump hole, (that thankfully was empty) on the upper pond.  Thankfully, we heard them and pulled them out, because she never would have been able to.  They were flea infested and hungry, so we ended up feeding and pooping a litter of 3 kittens.  It is a chore that I dont want to do again. ( But I did end up doing again later that summer with two bottle fed kitties named Baby Hope and Squeeker so never say never right?)   But, we ended up with Kitty Purry… and Will has Sam from that litter, and that is nice.

There were actually two full grown cats that settled here.  They kept living around our garage and the under the neighbor’s house.  The neighbor said that he was feeding them at night,but then he moved so I started feeding them, at night in our garage.  Our garage is a detached building that is better described as a two story Barn with a shed attached.  That shed is my laundry room, which is really a shed with a washer and dryer in it.  Primitive for humans at times, like when it is raining, but wonderful for feral cats and raccoons evidently.

In the weeks that followed,   I noticed  how skinny the mama kitty and the other cat was becoming, so I started feeding them away from the house, becasue they were so afraid of me.  I would put cat or dog food out in the detached garage.  I left the bag out there because I would buy the 40 lbs bags and they were heavy, so I just plunked the bags down.  Sometimes, I would notice that the cats would rip into the bag even though there was a bunch of food in their bowls.  They must be ravious I thought.    Funny thing is… the two wild cats just stayed skinny!  Skinny scrawny.  Skinny scrawny, they must have worms or something thin.

How could all of that food disappear and the cat still be skinny?
Well, I guess by this time we all know who was eating the food at night…  RACCOONS.

The Raccoon would sometimes perform a celebratory dance on the flat part of our roof right on top of our bedroom.   It sounded like the circus  thunder of “Sophie and the Dancing Bears “overhead.  Oh yes, if filmed, we could have won a prize for footage of funny animal antics on a TV show, called “Those amazing animals”.  They ARE playful!  We would lay in bed and laugh as it sounded like grown men wrestling on our roof.  We laughed instead of crying, really, because what is one to do?  ( They just stop and stare at the flashlight btw )
How dare we interrupt their fun???
They thought we lived with THEM!

Now, my little dog Pepper is 1 lb dog and 4 lbs vocal chords.  Her favorite nighttime bed is in the kitchen directly accross from the big window.   Directly outside of the window, and at a perfect geometric viewing angle for a chihuahua, is the railing and the top of the lattice over the spa.  My racoon has been walking the railing just to tease her.  Then she lays on top of the covering just because she can!  Maybe she wants to eat Pepper as an appetizer and is trying to figure out how to get into the kitchen to eat the black mouthy rat.  Anyway–

Two O’clock seems to be the hour of preference.
Racoons are punctual!
They are reliable!
They are industrious and busy!
The could make great employees, but night time visitors… not so much.
Not if you want to sleep that is!

Racoons are living here quite comfortably.
Humans and dogs are sleep deprived.

Back to the The two camps of Raccoons:

When I first took the racoon survey, folks would either  say
“How cute” or “Be Careful”.

The “Cute” Camp would want to see more of my raccoon photos…

The “Careful” Camp would tell me stories that involved thousands of dollars in remodels and lost sleep. Then Careful Camp would say, “You may have your hands full” or “Be careful, they can cause a lot of trouble” .

These accounts would not Vary.
Two camps.
Period.

So where am I on the spectrum?
Right now, I will am still in the sleep-deprived middle.
I love animals, so you know that I will co-exist.
But, what is my course of action?

  • I will move Peppers nighttime pillow to another quiet part of the house, insuring that we wont wake up to barking 3-4 times per night..
  • The ferrel cats are well fed, healhty and cared for by the neighbors so there are no worries there.
  • I never replaced the Koi, so if the raccoons eat some minnows, I am ok with it, and wont miss them.  That pond is a minnow making machine.
  • I will thank them for thinning out the water lilies and water hyacinths in the pond but not thank them for leaving the leftovers all over the yard.
  • I will carry the kitchen trash all of the way out to the containers at nigh instead of leaving them partway for tomorrow.

And then we will wait and see if my Raccoons move on.
Just so they don’t move on to my garden!

The only time that will solidly move me from the sleep-deprived- middle is that.I am told by the “carefuls” that they favor young corn…

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