Raccoon

A Bump in the Night

Would you know what to do if you heard scratching from the wall or  thumps in the ceiling? Your quick reaction could mean the difference between the life or death of an animal(s) and whether there is damage to property from the animal’s activities or from its decomposition. If you didn’t hear animal activity until March – April – May, I can guarantee there are babies in the attic. Even if you don’t hear babies – they are there. The worst thing that can be done is to trap and haul off the mother. The first step in dealing with an animal incursion is to determine the species of animal. Many techniques are common across the board, but a faster solution can be reached if you know what you are dealing with. Rats and mice sound like a scratching that moves along the perimeter of the room or up and down walls.  Inspection of the attic will reveal droppings against a vertical surface. Rats and mice show an extremely strong preference to move along  walls.  Mice will leave dropping that are half the length of an uncooked grain of rice, rats will leave a dropping that is as large as a cooked grain of rice or larger. It is important to know what size rodent you are dealing with. Many believe that rat poison is a “no muss, no fuss” solution. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a gruesome death as the animal bleeds out internally. The mythology is that rats eat the bait, then leave in search of water. The problem is that they often don’t leave and if they die in an enclosed space, the stench and subsequent clean up [...]

Raccoon rescue

One of the greatest joys for a wildlife animal rehabilator is the successful reunion of a mother and her babies.  Lots of books have been written about living in peace with the local wildlife. Even how to foster an environment to encourage wildlife without having them wreck YOUR home and eating all of your landscaping. However, little has been written about how to get the local wildlife out of your house once they have moved in or what to do with a separated youngster. The original call came in about 8 a.m. The condensed version was: “Two raccoons, a very small one and a slightly larger one had fallen though the suspended ceiling of the “basement” and that there was at least one more still “up there”, what am I supposed to do?”  They had already called Animal Control and were now afraid that the animals would be destroyed. Luckily for them AND the raccoons, Friendswood Animal Control works closely with the Wildlife Center of Texas. I told them not to worry and to accept the live trap that was on the way. Trapping and relocating an adult raccoon is a death sentence, only 10% will survive the next 6 months. If the raccoon is a female with babies, it is often a death sentence for them as well. Needless to say, relocation was not in the cards for this coon family. The next call went like this; “We caught the smaller of the two and put it in a cat carrier, now what?” Hoping that the live trap would catch the mother, who was still thought to be in the office, I sent them off to buy the supplies necessary to close up the [...]

Raccoon – Too Smart by Half

Raccoons are my problem children. They are just “too” – too cute, too curious, too brave, too strong, too aggressive, too smart, too adaptable, too devious, too agile … well, you get the picture. As my Dad would say they are “too smart by half”. The problem is that God gave them too much dexterity to go with their superior brainpower and insatiable curiosity.   Northern or Common Raccoons are classified taxonomically as Procyon Lotor (family/genus). Procyon translates from Latin as “before the dog” or “the lesser dog” and refers to the evolutionary history of the animal. Originally, it was thought that the raccoon was distantly related to dogs and bears, but recent evidence suggest they may be more closely related to the red panda.  Lotor translates from Latin as “washer” or “he who washes”. The word "raccoon" is derived from the Algonquian word aroughcoune, "he who scratches with his hands." Raccoons are not strictly nocturnal. They are easily intrigued and will investigate new or interesting activities. This is especially true of babies that are old enough to get into trouble, but not old enough to be on their own. Raccoons will shift feeding patterns to when food is available frequently appearing during the day to exploit aquatic food exposed during low tides or cat food that’s only set out in the morning. Therefore, daytime sightings of otherwise healthy looking raccoons is not cause for alarm. At 5 to 6 weeks, the kits will belly crawl to explore near the den and call for mom if hungry or anxious. By 10 to 12 weeks, the kits are following mom out to forage and making lots of noise romping and stomping. Raccoons stay with their mothers for [...]