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Racoon(s) Getting A Little Too Friendly For Comfort

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Thanks, magpied! Those little fellas really made me smile big, too - for days! There was just something so unexpectedly magical about the little guys.

Glad to hear that your cats and 'coons get along so well. Heidi was fine with Widget - in the photo above she can be seen eating with Widget nearby, no signs of aggression. Then Widget started growling at her which started some tension. I think he picked up on my fear and that's what started the friction between them. I've gotten over my fear of them now. As a result, Widget is starting to be more comfortable with them again, slowly.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Whewww.. Thank you for a great story, scutler! I'm so glad you are helping this little family (and cleaning out your fridge at the same time - what a bargain! LOL) I hope you can get some pictures. :-)

Ok, NOW I can go to bed...
~ Marylyn

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Scutler,
What a great story. I was wondering what had happened!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Well, it may now come as no surprise to those of you who know better, but there have been a few minor wrinkles in the plan. You know, no good deed goes unpunished.

Last night, as I was otherwise engaged, I missed the daily feeding. Later that night as I was working in the kitchen, I heard what sounded like a knock at the back door. I turned to see to see 2 little masked faces, noses pressed against the bottom panes of the french doors. It seemed as though they wanted to come inside. I went to the door to "scare" them away. As they were litterally touching the door, I only opened it a few inches. Scared? Not! They tried to come in. I grabbed the (extension) duster and "shewed" them away from the door so that I could open it. Still they stood about 2 feet away looking up at me quite fearlessly and much like 2 new pets. At that point, Widget (who is all of 5lbs) barked. Thankfully, while they are not afraid of me, they are afraid of Widget despite his diminutive size. They left, but not before ransacking the patio, knocking potted plants off of tables and stands and out of their pots onto the concrete floor, emptying the food from the rat zapper and dragging it across the patio, and just generally making a mess not unlike the one depicted in that commercial in which the raccoons party in a house while people are away.

You can bet I fed them on time today. Thankfully, I did not see them.

(But they are still very cute, inspite of all their antics!)

This message was edited Jul 18, 2006 2:16 AM

Phoenix, AZ

:D

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

Not a patient family at dinnertime, eh? Can't say that I'm surprised. Bet they'll have you trained in no time (lol)!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Exactly. I fed them EARLY yesterday. ;)

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Just found this thread tonight.....worth all the reading to see how it ended, or so far...LOL!
I had a friend that had a family of racoons that came up to her door each night and she handed them a each a piece of bread with honey on it. I wouldn't have believed it possible, but she had pictures.
Maybe you need to fix them up with a dogfood dispenser so they can eat when you are away. I can't help but wonder where you live, will you ever get backyard neighbors? All that stuff being lobbed over the fence may not be welcomed! LOL!

Seriously....You need to think about writing your story for a children's book. It was very entertaining. Thanks and best of luck.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Hi Sheila, thank you so much for the compliments. Lately, I have begun to think of trying a magazine article. Hadn't thought of children's books. Hmm.

Believe it or not, I live in a subdivision in city limits. Moreover, it is a rather "stuffy" area with a HUGE set of HOA rules. My yard is quite small, and my neighbor's homes seem to be in my yard. (lol) I grew up in a more rural area and had quite a bit of difficulty getting used to such close quarters. Accordingly, I chose this house in part because it backs up to a thin strip of forest that offers me a little privacy (from all of the 2story houses overlooking my property) and the illusion of the rural area of my childhood (with the exception of the houses on each side, that is). The back yard is also enclosed by a 6ft privacy fence.

Because the sanctuary offered by "my" tiny strip of forest is so important to me, I checked it out before I bought. It belongs to the state department of wildlife and natural resources, and their is no plan (so far) to do anything with it. While nothing is impossible, it's use for anything other than wildlife support is unlikely in the near future as the land back there is so "swampy" as to be almost impossible to walk through. Their is also a small pond of some sort back there. I have seen a giant blue heron resting in the trees back there.

I'll have to think about that dispenser. Interesting to hear that your friend fed them by hand. I've been wanting to offer them something that way but was afraid they would hurt me.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Forgot to mention that my little backyard cottage garden/habitat is not strickly "legal" in accordance with all of the city and HOA rules but so far I've been getting by largely because with the forest (and hence no houses) behind me, the only way for the HOA folks to see back there is from the street in front. The privacy fence (which is also not legit, but thankfully has been grandfathered in) conceils the view from that angle. As long as the neighbors on either side don't complain, I'm probably pretty safe. I had my little "sanctuary" registered as a backyard habitat. If I ever get "busted" by the rule keepers, I'm hoping the current interest in the environment will help me make a case for keeping my little garden.

Actually, I've had far more interactions with wildlife since I moved to the "city" than I ever had in the country. I guess that little strip of forest isn't big enough for all of them. Since I filled my backyard habitat to the brim with shrubs and trees and flowers, esp those bearing fruits and berries, it has been overflowing with creatures. The fence doesn't seem to get in their way. Raccoons and oppossoms climb over. Rabbits, turtles, etc sneak in under the gate and between 2 warped boards that leave a ground level gap near the back. On one occaision when I put out corn for the squirrels, some deer even jumped into the backyard! It's a zoo back there!

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

Scutler, I love reading about your backyard adventures. I got a chuckle out of the racoon kids coming to door!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Thank you very much, jujucaps. I have enjoyed sharing these adventures with all of you, and have benefitted greatly from the insites and ideas provided.

The racoon kids were adorable. It was a great experience.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Just for anyone who may be concerned about the possible environmental rammifications of the stuff I've been tossing over the fence, I'd like to reiterate that I am using BioBags that are made of 100% corn and are designed for use as compost pail liners: http://cleanairgardening.com/compostbag1.html . They decompose in 10-45 days leaving no harmful chemicals. I fill them with the food just as I would otherwise put it in a dish, having removed any packaging, wrappers, etc. Even when I gave them mellon, I cut it from the rind and only included the edible portion as I do not want decaying food products lying around over there. So I am careful not to toss plastic, trash, or excess and inedible food over there.

On one occaision my pitch missed the mark and the goodie bag fell back onto my side of the fence. As I had been wondering whether the racoons eat the bag (corn, afterall), I decided to leave it on my side. The next morning I found only a small portion of the bag left behind. Apparently the bag does not taste that great by itself - probably made from the cob or husks. It looked like they ate any portion of the bag that had gravy or juices from the food on it; it also looked like they may be eating food and bag without opening it - like a sandwich.

Fort Pierce, FL(Zone 10a)

scutler, have you thought about naming this catering service? LOL
I love it!
Pati

Monon, IN

Hi, Scutler.

My neighbor across the street feeds coons, and I enjoy taking chicken parts over there and watching a big mama coon and her three babies come for the goodies.

My other half is worried about feeding them over here---thinks they will cause mischief.

The other night, I put a 1 lb plastic container filled with chicken parts, bones and some vegetables out under our security light, and watched out the window through binoculars to see what would happen. By the time I went to bed, there had been no action. But when I woke in the morning and went out to look for the container, that was all there was, the empty spotless container, and not a scrap of anything to be found in the area.

I can't be sure what ate all those leftovers---coon, possum, skunk, coyote or dog. I guess whatever ate those goodies stays up a lot later than my bedtime!

The Woodlands, TX(Zone 9a)

Ah! Found you, finally. Thanks for another wonderful story!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Oh, hi, CJ, I didn't realize that you hadn't seen this thread yet.

I haven't seen Heidi or her kids (I like that name for them) much lately. I'm trying to take a back seat, provide food from time to time so they don't starve, but let them seek their own food as well. I figure this is a very crucial time for the kids. They need to learn to feed themselves now while they still have their mother around to teach them. If I feed them too well, I think I will be doing them a disservice.

My task was to help Heidi through the tough period when she needed extra nourishment to be able to nurse her babies and yet couldn't afford to stray too far from her helpless pups to look for food. They are about 1/2 her size now and I can see that she is teaching them important life skills - like how to raid my bird feeder and patio and how to dive into the nearby patch of black-eyed susans to hide from the dog. So as much as I will miss the little fellas, I feel it's time for me to bow out gracefully.

I still put something out every 3 days or so, just to be sure they get a good, home cooked meal from time to time. Over the weekend, I bought a large watermelon. It turned out to be over-ripe. I put the two halves on the top of the open, wire-cage, leaf-only composter at the back of the yard. It's only about 10ft from the fence where Heidi hangs out. Normally, I would have cut the watermelon up and put it in the fully enclosed composter so she couldn't get it. I figured this way she and the kids could eat the flesh and leave the rind with the compost. I left the watermelon halves sitting upright. This morning I checked and found two empty watermelon rinds atop the compost pile. They were eaten out as deftly as if someone had taken a melon baller or ice cream scoup to them.

A few nights ago when I was walking the dog, Heidi appeared atop the fence and sat there looking at us - in the very same spot where I always toss her food. She always comes back to that spot to communicate with me. I wonder if her "home" is near by. At any rate, that night she was barely visible in the dark, amidst the branches over-hanging the fence, just sitting there. It was the 1st time I'd seen her in a while. When she shows herself I usually take that as a sign that she's hungry. I went back to the house and packed her a lunch.

As I see her less and less now, I know that I am going to miss her. But I also know that this is as it should be. I'll probably keep giving her my leftovers from time to time. And I know that she will be back next spring when we can do this all over again. She has been here for years. In the past, I had noticed that the feeder raids were REALLY bad at times. I had wondered why those times always seemed to occur not in winter when I'd expect food to be scarce but in spring when food should be most abundant. NOW, I understand. Babies.

Sometimes still I wonder at the fact that she came to me when she needed help; wonder how she knew that I could help her and that I would help her. Still think it is likely that she was raised by humans. At any rate, I remain incredibly honored that she chose to come to me for help when she needed it. It has been a fabulous experience. I have been very lucky. Sometimes life's little annoyances may be the good things in disguise - if we just take a moment to look more closely.

The Woodlands, TX(Zone 9a)

You are such a good person! She's so lucky to have found you. Sigh......
G'night, Scutler.

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

So true, scutler, that " life's little annoyances may be the good things in disguise:" good for you, and thanks for befriending the wild ones!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

pattishell, I'm still working on a name:

Meals on ...no that's not working. Bandit Gourmet. Coon Catering.
It's In The Bag Catering. McR's. Please Don't Destroy The Birdfeeder Catering.

I'm working on it!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

CarolJeanie,

When I first started this thread I was afraid that Heidi would cause trouble - or hurt me or my dog. She's been here for 6 years or so, and so far (fingers crossed) she has behaved very well. She never threatens me or the dog. Most of the time she hides out quietly in the darkness until we leave.

Here's the worst so far. She bends the sheperd's hooks trying to get to the feeder. Sometimes she damages the feeders. One of my best feeders is sitting empty right now because she hid the little ornamental, screw-on hanger thingy that holds it together. I'm still hoping to find it somewhere. She only does these things when I DON'T feed her.

And she's pretty smart about it. One day last year I came home and found her sitting on the curve at the top of the shepard's hook, one hand on either side of the large, cylindrical, multi-section, squirrel B gone feeder, turning it around and around quite deftly until she managed to unscrew the nut/loop sending the whole thing crashing to the ground with seeds spilling everywhere. Earlier this spring, before she "talked" me into feeding her, she started climbing up into the crepe myrtle that holds the hummingbird feeder, grabbing the feeder while sitting in the crotch of the tree, and turning the feeder to a horizontal postion while holding her mouth underneath to catch the nectar that ran out.

She climbed my maypole crabapple and ate the "apples". When I left the compost pail on the patio by mistake (got called away on my way out to the compost bin), she made a heck of a mess, but that was my mistake.

About that midnight raid at your house, most of the year I don't see her at all. In the spring and early summer she gets very bold. That's when she starts coming into the yard earlier and earlier, sometimes even in the day time. The lady who advised me to feed her said she behaves that way because when she has nursing pups she gets desperate to get food and get back to them before they are stolen by a predator. Makes sense. Now that they are getting older, I see her less and less. So maybe you need to put your food out in the spring.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Thank you, CJ, and spartacusaby. I am honestly sorry that it over for now. I wish that I could go back to those few nights when she climbed down the fence and approached me. That was awesome. Wish that I had not been afraid and had let her get closer, maybe offered her something up close, perhaps from that 3ft grabber thing I use to get stuff from behind furniture. Maybe next year.

The Woodlands, TX(Zone 9a)

And now, have you ever seen the copperhead again?

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Thankfully, no! But I do still look very carefully in all directions before I step out of the back door and anywhere I walk out there. For a while I wore tall boots out there. Also, I removed (down to the soil!) all of the groundcover from around the patio in the area where the snake was. That way, before I go out I can easily inspect the ground for signs of him or any of his friends.

I have noticed ONE thing. I haven't seen any rats or signs of rats out there since shortly after the snake sitings. (Plural because I also saw a large garter snake out there a week or so later.) In fact, the last rat I saw was lying dead a few feet from the patio. I suspect that he had been struck by one of the snakes, and that I had come by and scared the snake away.

I'm trying to look on the bright side. It works as long as I don't SEE the snakes.

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

Snakes are just awesome for rodent control: surprised to hear that one abandoned his kill and didn't return for it later. Venomous snakes around the house would be disturbing, however!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

OMG, you are not going to BELIEVE this!

I still can't believe it myself.

I haven't been feeding Heidi much lately. Saturday I did deep clean the fridge (wow, is it ever bright in there now) and put all the throw-aways out for her in a really full bag. Tonight around midnight when I took the dog out, I heard her in the compost bin - where I put the last few mellons for her. Apparently, she was searching for anything edible. I walked back there to see her. She scampered away over the fence before I could see her, but I knew it was her from the sound/movement. I called to her softly and clicked a few times. (I didn't mention, but ever since I named her I've been calling her name and clicking when I toss her the food.)

I didn't expect her to actually come to me. She's never come to me before in response to the calling of her name, but I just wanted to see her again, and I knew she was over there. There was a rustle in the bushes, and just like that she appeared atop the fence! Then she climbed down the fence, looked at me, walked a few feed along the fence, and stood looking at me. Her demeanor reminded me of that of a cat that's about to rub on your legs requesting dinner. Unfortunately, at that moment Widget saw her and charged her. As I've mentioned he's just under 5lbs so I'm surprised she doesn't just smack him one, but she scrambled back up the fence and dissapeared. Bummer! I took her some dog food and a slice of watermelon, put it in a bowl by the fence, and called her again; but she wouldn't come back over the fence even though I left the dog inside.

Maybe I'll try again another night. It was SO exciting to see her come out of the forest when I called her!

I'm a little confused though. Around 7PM I tossed her a dinner bag that should have left her waddling: a whole (very ripe) honeydew melon, a broiled chicken breast, a pint of artichoke and spinach dip, and a cup of sour cream - the last of the fridge cleanings. I had to double bag it. Seems like something else must have eaten the food since she was still hungry and scrounging for food. Also, while I was sitting out there tonight with the bowl of dog food near the fence, I heard a nasty "fight" on her side of the fence, lots of spitting and snarling.

Although I didn't see her again, I sensed that she was still there hiding in the bushes/trees watching me. Do you think the children are still with her, and they ate the food? I haven't seen them in a while. I've caught a few glimpses of her, but they were never with her. The last time I did see them they were almost full size, so I figured they had left home, so to speak. Do you think one of them is now fighting with her for food/territory? Or has another raccoon found out about my raccoon buffet? Or maybe the opposum? Curious.

BTW, the kids did have a nasty argument the last time I saw (or heard) them raiding the feeder. When they were little fellas they were content to all climb on the feeder at the same time, but when they got bigger they started having little spats out there.

Valencia, PA(Zone 5b)

I just love this thread. Please continue as to how it is going. See if you find out who is causing the fighting.....thanks for a heartwarming story. Karen (liebran)

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Thank you, Karen. Will do. Each time I think the saga is over, something else happens. It is the real Never Ending Story.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

It's nice of Heidi to come up with new antics and thereby lengthen our regular scutler's-story fix! LOL

I wouldn't be suprised if it were her grown up children that are getting the food and arguing with her about it. Hopefully they will get their own territory soon, or you're gonna need a bigger fridge!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Hmm. Grown up children coming back to get food and supplies and argue with the parent, now where have I heard that before? LOL. Seems to be the same for all species.

You know, Marylyn, the more I think about all the facts, I'm inclined to thing it's those kids, too. That spat on the other side of the fence last night sounded a lot like the spat's I witnessed at the feeder when they fought with each other. Also, last week "something" (raccoon-like) went on a rampage, ripped the bird feeder off of the shepard's hook and destroyed it, broke the feeder ports off the hummer feeder and drank the nectar, and trashed the patio, breaking pots and dumping plants and dirt everywhere. Saturday morning I went out and bought new feeders, filled them, and hung them out. That evening I put out a large food package for the raccoons so they'd leave the feeders alone. Sunday morning I awoke to find that BOTH of the new hbird feeders were destroyed. The ports had been broken off, so they would no longer hold fluid.

In the six years that Heidi has been here she has NEVER been destructive like that. Sometime she unscrews the top off the bird feeder and eats the food, but the feeder is still ok. Once or twice she drank the hbird nectar but she didn't damage the feeder. Sounds like a gang of marauding teenagers, huh? Amen to getting their own territory, and LOL about the bigger fridge. (Now my fridge is spotless and nearly empty. Still need to purge the freezer though, and I know I have a freezer burned salmon in there along with 2lbs of cheese that I know Heidi will love.) I'll have to buy even bigger bags of Jim Dandy.

At any rate, last night when she waltzed right down that fence when I called her, no one was more shocked than ME. I STILL can't believe it. But it was SO, SO magical...at least until Widget spoiled everthing by chasing her away. I must try that again w/out the dog.

Pasadena, CA(Zone 9b)

You know, scutler, you were the first person I thought of when I came face to face with my first raccoon the other night!! Something kept setting off the security light and when I opened the back door, sitting right on the fence not five feet away was a big raccoon just looking me right in the eye. I loved the look on his face....like "yeah...and so..??" I just stood there like a knucklehead with my mouth wide open and then he very calmly climbed away. If I'd had your phone number, I would've called and woken you up I was so excited!

I've been watching my h-bird feeders after reading our account of how Heidi drinks out of it to see if there is any evidence of tampering, but none so far. Something did however chew the plastic rod that was holding a bird feed bell and walked off with it......now who could do something like that, I wonder?

I do hope Heidi gets a grip on her rowdy teens. I hate the thought of her in a scuffle and not getting food.

Lee

Ferndale, AR(Zone 7b)

Racoons are so cuuuuuuutttte! We watch them from a distance while they eat from the deer feeders at our pond. Unfortunately, last week a baby wandered into our fenced dog yard and didn't live to tell about it. :( Two of our dogs killed a full grown racoon on the back deck several years ago while we were out of town. We returned to find the racoon carcass and two dogs with bite marks and eyes as big as saucers! It must have been some fight!

Scutler, I sure hope you don't end up having a lot of damage done by your "pets". (didn't you have the crazed bird tearing up your screens?) Sometimes, when they start to "expect" a free meal, they get very destructive when you don't meet their schedule. They can do a lot of damage!

I remember my first experience with destructive racoons. I was living in a second floor apartment with furniture on my balcony. First started noticing unidentifed poop (what could get to the 2nd floor balcony and poop like that????), then my furniture cushions were shredded and a plastic bread bag was left behind. I finally realized what was happening when I drove up one night and spotlighted a whole family of racoons "dumpster diving". Ah ha! Mystery solved!

Enjoy! They are real clowns aren't they?

Debra

Monon, IN

Wow! Those are two tough dogs! I have heard of one raccoon decimating a whole PACK of hounds.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Hi Lee, Hope you enjoy the antics of your visitor as much as I have enjoyed knowing Heidi. Don't get me wrong; there are pitfalls. Heidi has been known to run off with pretty much any food item not nailed down. I've never known her to be seriously destructive - think that may be those roudy teens, but over the years she has made off with everything from suet (wire holder and all, sometimes I find them, sometimes I don't) to thistle sleeves (generally found empty near the fence). She is a master "re-appropriator". And her presence does limit what I can put out for the smaller and gentler creatures. But then, so do the squirrels and the opossum - just have to work with what we have.

Debra, you must have some large and/or mean dogs there. Seriously, though, I have read that dogs are a major killer of raccoons, which shocks me, too, since I would expect the raccoon to be the tougher competitor. Because dogs are mostly kind and friendly to us, it is easy to forget the power that they really possess, and, thankfully, don't show us. Just an aside, I have also read that since the fairly recent sequencing of DNA and genomes, it has been determined that there is little or no justification for the classification of "dog" because dog and wolf DNA is essentially the same. Dogs (even the furry, little ones) appear to be mutated and domesticated wolves. Now that definitely puts things in perspective.

I do realize that there are risks involved in feeding the raccoons. My biggest fear has always been for the house - TIAD (titmouse induced anxiety disorder). But I spent 5 years doing everything possible to keep Heidi out of my yard to absolutely NO avail whatsoever. So, as I have learned, it is not my yard. It is OUR yard, and she will continue to be here regardless of what I do. I'm not encouraging her. I'm just interacting with her. She will be here no matter what.

I could trap her and relocate her. Some very well meaning people recommended that at the beginning of this thread. Thankfully, the wildlife rehabilitator told me that Heidi's behavior was consistent with that of a lactating female; she was right, and if I had "humanely" relocated Heidi, 4 baby raccoons would have faced certain death. Moreover, as the rehabilitator pointed out, any attempt to remove Heidi would only create a vacuum to be filled by another, possibly less friendly, raccoon - nature hates a vacuum.

So she's here, and I'm here. We might as well try to be friends. I used to get angry when she ate the bird food and ran off with the suet. And my BP did rise when my new hbird feeders were trashed recently. Now, frustrating as it is, I try to realize that it really makes no sense for me to put food out and expect that the birds will know that they are welcome and all the other creatures will know that it is not meant for them. I mean, seriously, wouldn't it make just as much sense to be angry with the Cardinal for stealing the seeds and the hummingbirds for drinking the nectar? That doesn't mean,of course, that I won't try to find a way to prevent the raids mechanically - or that she won't find a way to circumvent my best efforts. ; )

Oh, and the night they destroyed the hbird feeders, I DID put out feed, but probably not enough for 5 grown raccoons. Here's hoping the kids get married and move away SOON!

Got to go now. Have an appointment in the backyard.


Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!!!

I took out my really, really last bag of leftovers from the fridge cleaning. really: sun dried tomato tortilla wraps (whole bag I forgot about), trimmings from tonight's smoked pork chops, Jim Dandy. I sat on my garden seat about 20ft from the fence, holding my goody bag. I called out to Heidi in a soft, gentle, friendly voice. There was no response, but I refused to leave. Somehow, I was certain "she" was there. For maybe 10 minutes I sat, calling out and clicking from time to time. (BTW, no dog).

Then, a clue. The shadow of what seemed to be the tree limb on the fence (due to my spotlight some distance away at the house) began to move ever so slightly from time to time. I felt no breeze. Nothing else was moving. I was sure this was her somewhere in/under the limb. I persisted in calling, clicking.

The leaves on a branch nearby moved. Then another branch. Then another. Almost like the wave thing at sports games the movement flowed along the branches in front of me. Now this was confusing because there was still no breeze. And nothing else in the yard was moving at all, just a flowing "breeze" amidst the branches in the area in front of me. Then, the slightest, faintest impression of a little grey striped head appeared atop the fence, followed only seconds later by a small body. But this was not Heidi, too small. No, this was one of the kids, and he was smaller than I thought. Then as the little fella stood atop the fence eyeing me curiously, the ghostly apparition of another face appeared amidst the branches, almost like the cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. There were 2 of them.

Slowly, I stood up, holding the food out in front of me, and walked toward them. (don't worry. I had no intention of petting them. just wanted to carry the food closer.) When I had moved about 5ft they scampered back into the branches. I stopped and tossed the food to about 10ft from the fence, then went back to my seat.

A few minutes later 2, no 3, make that 4 little raccoons climbed down the fence in front of me. It was exciting -- and a little scarey. They are wild animals after all, and I felt out numbered. The 1st one down hurried over, snatched up the bag and scrambled back up the fence - gone. The others, apparently unaware of what had happened, walked over to the spot where the food had been, sniffed around, milled about in front of me. They were only 10ft away. Each in turn, realizing that the food was gone, turned to me and walked toward me a few steps, before turning to leave. One by one they filed back up the fence and dissappeared.

I went back inside, got them another bowl of Jim Dandy and a bagel - hey, I was hoping for the chance to offer portions of it at closer range. I didn't see them, so I left the food.

They were so adorable!!!

I didn't see Heidi. You know, I am really starting to believe that they LIVE in those branches right over that fence - or in the attached tree. I mean, come on. Every time I go to the fence and call, one of them shows up. How likely is that unless they live there?

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

Hey, scutler: love the new chapters of your ongoing and fascinating saga. Raccoon young typically stay with mom quite a while; there's a big learning curve as she teaches them to forage and hunt (granted this is much easier in your yard!). If she becomes pregnant with a second litter for the year, she'll probably kick them out then. Meanwhile, there are a lot of mouths to feed, and they probably are old enough to start getting scrappy with each other. If she's not yet pregnant, she will typically let them eat first, so she may often be pretty darn hungry. And yes, the tree at your fence may well be their home base; if there's a cavity somewhere in the trunk, it's probably the original nest site.

And yes, dogs really are just wolves bred for different size, color, coat, and function in human society. If you've ever seen feral dogs in the cities or third world, their pack behavior is remarkably similar to wolves.

Ferndale, AR(Zone 7b)

Scutler, have you tried a racoon baffle on the bird feeder? We have a pole feeder that was constantly being raided by raccoons and opposums. They not only ate the bird food, but tore up the feeders and knocked over the pole several times causing it to be "not so straight" anymore. The baffle really works as long as they can't jump onto the feeder from a nearby tree.

Maybe I've missed them, but have you gotten any photos of the whole family? Would they pose for a family portrait?

The two dogs that killed the adult raccoon a few years back aren't vicious (the Basenji does have an attitude, but that's another story). Actually, the Doberman/Lab mix is very submissive to us, but watch out any creature who dares enter the territory she's assigned to guard! She takes her job very seriously. (she has killed or alerted us to snakes, chipmonks, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, turtles, deer, raccoons, oppossums, and uh, a pile of rocks that "weren't there yesterday!") They both had battle scars after the fight with the adult raccoon. It was obvious the bigger dog had grabbed the raccoon (wounds around her mouth) and the Basenji had then made a run at it from the wrong end - front end - probably while the other dog held it (he had a bite on his snout). They would not even come back onto the top deck again until we removed the dead raccoon. They wanted NO PART of that critter again!

Debra

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

fleursdefouquet!!!

Quoting:
...and uh, a pile of rocks that "weren't there yesterday!"


ROFLOLOL!!

Valencia, PA(Zone 5b)

Sounds like something our dogs (Irish Water Spaniels) would do. They have to examine anything new in the house or out. Karen (liebran) Yep, would also love to see a family picture.

Ferndale, AR(Zone 7b)

Marylyn - it's true! She has a very distinct "something's in the yard that doesn't belong here" bark. I put her out one morning and soon heard that bark so went to investigate. She was barking at three flat rocks someone had stacked on top of each other on the back porch. She was right - they didn't belong there! She redeemed herself later when she alerted me to water mocassins in the back yard on two different occassions.

Is it just me, or does everyone else miss the Microsoft Word spellcheck feature while posting on these forums? I think I've completely forgotten how to spell!

Scutler - what's the latest? Any babies today in the daylight? Oh, and would you please come clean out my fridge? It's been so long since I've done it there's no telling what's lurking in there. Sounds like you do a heck of a job! LOL

Debra

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