Raccoon Family

Out on the back deck, heard some scurrying. “Damn raccoons,” I thought, watching a tail slip under the deck. Grabbed the hose and started squirting. Then heard one growling a low, plaintive growl. Peered over the side to find an adult raccoon facing off with me, totally defiant. Couldn’t believe it could be so ballsy, but gave it a good squirt. It ducked underneath, then emerged like a mother duck trailing four painfully adorable baby raccoons behind. She led them out through a hole in the fence and down the street and suddenly I felt guilty. I’m thinking “pest control” and she’s thinking “must protect my family.” As much as I don’t want a family of raccoons growing up below our feet, it was amazing how profoundly their cuteness affected me, as if they were somehow inherently innocent of vermin-hood.

What is it with this neighborhood? We live on a fairly busy street, just a few blocks from one of the East Bay’s main arteries, but we see deer all the time, strolling down the middle of the street like they own the place* (and we’re engaged in ongoing battle with their garden-consuming habits). The other night we heard a blood-curtling racket and came out to find a pair of adult owls mating (in plain view – shocking!) on the branch of a tree just a few feet above our heads. You’d think we lived in the middle of the 100-Acre Wood.

* OK, they do own the place, but still…

Music: The Carter Family :: On The Rock Where Moses Stood

7 Replies to “Raccoon Family”

  1. I like cute animals and all, but raccoons are vermin, not wildlife. Like rats, they thrive in proximity with people, eating from our garbage cans, rooting around in our compost pile, etc. I pelted a raccoon with a lemon the other day. It grunted and shambled off. The next day it was back, same as ever. Those critters are persistent, smart, and will take you for everything you’ve got if you let them.

    BTW, a dog is really good for scaring off raccoons.

  2. True, they’re amazingly persistent. We’ve had to go to lengths to keep them from walking into the house through the cat door to eat cat food. We put the food away in the fridge at night now because putting it away in a sealed container in a cabinet wasn’t good enough – they once opened the cabinet door pulled out the sealed plastic bin, and gnawed it open. Another night a couple months ago Amy was reading to Miles and looked up to see a racoon in his room! It had walked through the cat door, through the kitchen, dining room down the hall and right on in. Amazing.

    Part of the conflict of all this for me is that my parents raised raccoons for Hollywood when I was a kid in L.A. in the 70s. We had a dozen in large cages in the backyard and one that lived in the house with us as a pet. So it took me a long time as an adult to even see them as vermin. But I sure do now.

    I’ll put up some footage from our old raccoon ranch sometime soon.

  3. However, if you live on the water and have a dog and raccoons be careful. Raccoons are great swimmers and have drowned their fair share of dogs.

  4. How dare you call raccoons vermin. They are the most intellgent, clean and affectionate animals I know. HUMANS are the vermin that have taken over this earth and they do not take care of it. When people talk about “NUISANCE” animals don’t they realize that we are the nuisance animals. The opossums, raccoons, rats, squirrels, etc have been here long before us and we are the ones that have taken away their homes. I would be honored to have a racccoon or any animal live in my backyard!!!!!!and I do.

  5. Nancy– you’re right, humans are vermin too! In fact I keep a slingshot by my back door for repelling the humans that come creeping through the yard at night. I pelt them with walnuts — just want to scare them off, not hurt them. Unfortunately, the baby humans are so cute, it just melts my heart when I see one. I have to remind myself that they’ll just grow up to be rabid, disease-ridden pests just like their parents. Then it’s easier to fire away with the ol’ slingshot.

  6. Just spotted this story on SFGate:

    Psycho Killer Raccoons Terrorize Olympia

    A fierce group of raccoons has killed 10 cats, attacked a small dog and bitten at least one pet owner who had to get rabies shots, residents of Olympia say.

    Some have taken to carrying pepper spray to ward off the masked marauders and the woman who was bitten now carries an iron pipe when she goes outside at night.

    “It’s a new breed,” said Tamara Keeton, who with Kari Hall started a raccoon watch after an emotional neighborhood meeting drew 40 people. “They’re urban raccoons, and they’re not afraid.”

    Intelligent, yes. Clean and affectionate?? I think not!!

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