I’ve always had a thing for raccoons. If I were going to make a list of my top ten favorite animals, they would certainly make it. I have to go top ten because I doubt I could pick a favorite. Actually, I’d probably have trouble just limiting it to ten but raccoons would still rank high on the list.
I have a memory of visiting a park. Can’t tell you where it was or why we were there. On vacations, we’d often pull aside at roadside parks to eat whatever lunch Mom had packed. Anyway, I just remember my Dad standing next to a large trash can and calling me over where a young raccoon had fallen in and couldn’t get himself out. (This was way before people started calling them Trash Pandas) He tipped the bin over and the little guy scrambled up the nearest tree.
For several years after that, I would always check the trash bins every time we’d stop at a park like that but never found another one.
When we moved into this house with the surrounding woods, we now had a bunch of raccoon neighbors. Because we fed birds, they decided that our house was a good place to be and we’d start to see babies every year. The best part was always when they first started exploring the world around them. One year, we had three little guys climb the stairs to our front porch and seeing them look into the windows was just too cute.
This is before we figured out ways to keep them out of the bird feeders. In the first couple of years, we lost a number of feeders when they would take down the feeders and pretty much destroy them. After much trial and error, we have mostly raccoon proofed our bird feeding stations. And then we decided to go ahead and start feeding them since they were leaving the bird feeders alone. We have no such understanding with the squirrels though.
Now we know they have a well stocked woods just off our yard and they take advantage of it. But I think they get lazy and just lounging around under the bird feeder until we toss some stuff down seems to be the easy way out and they tend to take that.
Anyway, about a week ago, we saw a female dragging babies one by one from wherever they had been in the woods to the relative safety under our deck. We’ve been waiting since then for them to make an appearance. Last night, they finally started exploring. Seeing them climb trees is just cheap entertainment. Of course, I had to toss some food down for Mom who was trying to watch out for them as well as eating as fast as she could.
I know much of what they do is just instinctive and learning behaviors that will help them later in life but there is just something about seeing babies out exploring for the first time. Of course, each generation learns where the easy food source and, over the years, they’ve become less nocturnal and much more active in the daytime to match our patterns.
I know others who see animals like this as a nuisance and I can sort of understand why. My feeling is that this house was built into their territory and we can certainly share some space with them. Just seeing the babies always puts me a good mood.