By Christi Baron
Raccoons will eat songbirds, ducks, chickens, and eggs. They will consume frogs, shrews, moles, mice, rats, and rabbits. They will eat almost any kind of fruit as it ripens, and they also enjoy food from the trash. Raccoons are intelligent, curious, and cute little creatures that can live in close proximity to humans and sometimes you don’t even know they are around until…they kill!.
A few years ago I went to let my ducks out of the safety of their pen only to discover carnage. Dead ducks everywhere, those that had survived the attack were traumatized. Something had found a way into the pen, and out again during the night. I must have repaired the point of entry, because the next day I went to the chicken house only to discover a late night roofing job, dozens of shingles had been torn off the roof. What was I dealing with here?
I figured it was a raccoon but wanted to identify the bandit so I borrowed a game camera from my brother in law so I could see what I was up against. I set up the camera and checked it the next afternoon. I had gotten several unattractive pictures of myself, my dog digging a hole, and some juncos. I put the camera out again the next night and when I checked the camera again I saw several cats, unknown to me, and then there it was on camera, a very well fed raccoon.
I was mad and decided I was going to get this guy. I set up a live trap, sacrificed some smoked fish, and the next morning I got something, there it was, a big gray cat. He was not happy.
This is not my first go round with a raccoon, it was about twenty years ago when in the middle of the night I heard a commotion outside and looked out the window to see a raccoon dragging a duck away. I grabbed my coat and shoes and as I headed out the door I looked around the laundry room for something for protection, my weapon of choice was a mop. That was all that was handy. I was out the door with the mop and it wasn’t even a sponge mop with at least some metal on it. It was a string mop.
As I chased the raccoon with the duck in his jaws across the street into a neighboring yard, where luckily the house was vacant, the raccoon dropped the duck and I picked it up, as I, the duck and the mop, backed away the raccoon started making weird noises and coming at me I started swinging my mop and making some noises of my own.
Then I realized that I, the duck and the mop were going to have to crawl through a split rail fence. I had come through it during the chase but this was going to be more difficult with the raccoon on the offensive. As I crawled through the rails, waiving the mop, the raccoon kept coming but in the end, I think the mop really confused him or maybe it was my pajamas? Back in the safety of the laundry room the duck amazingly was uninjured and the mop went back in the corner.
I have heard of a pack of raccoons actually attacking a woman jogger, knocking her down. Her dog eventually ran them off, but almost any adult raccoon is more powerful than almost any adult dog.
I set up the live trap several more times but no takers; I think he was on to me. After the attack, the ducks decided they were safer in the middle of the pond and would no longer go back in their pen. Recently on Fir Avenue someone was complaining on Facebook that something was killing their chickens. It’s raccoons, you never know you have them until …
Raccoons are wild animals looking for a readily available food source, and feeding them will encourage them to keep coming back for more. While you might think you are doing a good thing by feeding raccoons, you could actually be jeopardizing the health of your family and your pets.
Raccoon secretions, for instance, can transmit leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can cause flu-like symptoms or even kidney and liver problems. Plus, they’ll kill a cat in a heartbeat and they’ll maul a dog given half a chance.
So while raccoons are cute and it’s fun to feed them, don’t do it. And around my house they had just better hope I don’t get my mop out.