Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Raining Raccoons

If you're hyper-sensitive about animals, just skip this. No animals were harmed in the creation of this post—by me anyway—but nature's unkind.

Raccoons have been making near-nightly visits to the our trash cans. I am one of those males who can obsess about this sort of thing. Growing up on a farm, where bats, mice, squirrels, groundhogs, and all other manner of small animals decide to take up residence with you, we had a word for these things: vermin. And there's really only one thing to do with vermin: bop it on the head.

Our raccoons are not afraid of people. At all. Loud, threatening noises only seem to elicit curiosity. And attempts to make our receptacles unappealing with ammonia have been ineffective. It's the season for fresh litters of raccoon kits, so this could be a protective mama. In the worst case, raccoons are definite rabies concerns. And we have a curious lad of the pre-school set.

As I've been saying lately, "Am I the only person who sees this relationship as problematic?" Madame le Spouse just thinks they're cute, a message I've been desperately trying to squelch with the boy. I just can't relate to sentimentality about wild animals. My beloved is one of those peoples who roots for the gazelle to escape in the wildlife documentary about gazelles, and who roots for the big cats to eat in the documentaries about the predators.

Regrettably, now we know where they're coming from: the gigantic oak tree in the front yard.

Mother raccoon does indeed have a litter, and she's keeping them in a knothole 30-40 feet up in the tree. Previously, they were even higher up, but yesterday she was moving them down the tree to a different knothole when one of the babies fell to the ground. Surprisingly, it wasn't killed by the fall.

Major drama when I got home from work, with my family and the neighbors gathered to watch the slow progress of mother raccoon recovering the kit and taking it back up the tree. Apparently, it took a long time for her to even find her young.

Just when it appeared that everything had settled down, a baby fell from the heights again. It's not every day that you see raccoons falling a couple stories out of trees. This time the fall was probably lethal. A few moments after returning to her family, we heard loud, hitch-pitched noises out of the knothole. I don't speak Raccoonese, but they sounded a lot like wailing and lamentation to me.

I love animals. We have three kitties, and they're good for cuddlin'. I am a kind and humane man, but the origin of my kindness is not empathy, especially in the rodent department. I look at neighbors who are upset about the plight of the raccoons with puzzlement. Me? I want those stinkin' nuisances away from my house and away from all the little kids running around in our neighborhood.

Especially mine.


Blogger Namaste Mama said...

My father-in-law is completely and utterly in your camp on this. He is one of the most compassionate people I have the pleasure to know. But bring up the subject of racoons... I wish I could think of what it is he always says about them. I think they're cute, too. BUT I also understand how much problems they can provide. My grandfathers would have easily shot those suckers out of your tree for you.

1:43 PM  
Blogger EB said...

Eek! Way too close to the house to shoot, please.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Envoy-ette said...

You must be my soul mate...because I feel the same about wild animals. (Leave me alone....and I'll leave you alone. But if you bring your rabid mouth to my home...you're toast.) Of course...you and I are the only ones I KNOW OF who feel this way.

2:33 PM  

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