By ANN BROKELMAN
I have had some amazing encounters with raccoons this year; their behaviour was fascinating and their cuteness almost beyond words.
These backyard bandits are quite the conundrum. I think most of us can admit that, while they are often incredibly irritating, they also look absolutely adorable,
The other day, I received a call from a friend who lives just down the road from me. Apparently, they had discovered three baby raccoons sitting on a neighbour’s roof.
How did my friend know they were there? They said the horrendous screaming was a big clue!
Walking down the street in their direction, I could hear their cries long before I could see them.
My first instinct was that their mom had decided to move them to a new location, and they were yelling in protest of having been, temporarily, left behind.
Sure enough, within a few minutes of spotting them, the mom came back, picked up one of the babies, and disappeared.
This was ideal, as they could have been screaming because the mom hadn’t been home for a while. If this were the case, the mom might never be coming back, and we’d have to stage our own rescue of the critters.
As I watched, over the course of the next 20 minutes, the mom returned to grab the remaining two.Luckily, she decided to grab the one who was screaming the loudest, first.
I had to laugh a few times, watching the mom carrying her babies, by their bottoms, while they helplessly flailed about in protest.
It was amazing to see the adult raccoon descend a satellite access ladder, upside down, while carrying her young.
I found out later that the family had been nesting inside the attic. The animal removal service had found them, patched their access hole, and left the babies on the roof. Luckily mom raccoon found them. Unless almost fully grown, those little ones won’t have much chance at survival.
My second recent raccoon encounter was with a friend of mine who had rescued two babies he found wandering in a park.
That may not seem like strange raccoon behaviour, but my friend, Remy, has been helping animals for years and knew something was wrong. He had watched the babies until almost 3 a.m. (yes, we animal rescue people are an odd bunch) until he confidently concluded that no adult was around to help take care of them.
When he contacted me the next day, the two of us tried to find an animal rescue facility that could take them. This time of year, however, few places have any free space; the need for raccoon rehabilitation far exceeds what the wildlife rehab community can supply.
Fall is a great time of year to clean up your yard and make sure your property is animal proof.
Make sure your compost bin has a secure lid, seal any holes under your shed, and try not to put out your green bin waste until the morning of collection.
Any open/accessible garbage bin is an invitation to our hungry wild neighbours.
Don’t forget to clean up any rotting fruit or nuts that fall from your trees. You may not mind that the animals clean up the fruit for you, but a lot of raccoons tend to poop near where they eat. Don’t make your yard, deck, or roof their favourite latrine spot.
Also, don’t forget to cover your window wells to stop animals from falling in, but if that’s not possible, at least put something in there that would let an animal climb out. Spending a few dollars on a well cover may not be ideal, but I’m sure it’s preferable to fishing a scared skunk out of there!