Raccoons

1 Raccoon + 1 Raccoon =

Baby raccoons!

Just the other day, I told y’all about the raccoons in my neighbor’s attic crawl space. Well, we’ve been dealing with raccoons in our attics for a few years now. In late winter/early spring, female raccoons look for a safe place to den. “Safe”, meaning away from male raccoons who resent the babies because while mama nurses them, she won’t mate. So… quite simply, baby raccoons are not safe around a horny male and mama has to hide them.

That’s another reason I don’t like the idea of calling in animal control. The mom works so hard to keep her babies safe. That’s nature at it’s most basic and beautiful.

But, these raccoons are rather fertile and while I saw two adolescent raccoons last week, I have now seen Mom and three toddlers who are still so small, they’re unable to navigate their way home.

This morning, at 6, which is late for them to go home, I heard all this chattering from outside. What did I see? Mama raccoon on the roof across the alley, coaxing her little cubs up the drainpipe where they would then tightrope along the roof’s edge for a couple of yards, then wiggle down to the awning and into their dark and cozy den – which happens to be my neighbor’s attic crawl space.

The chattering was the mom telling them to hurry, I’m sure. It was also the babies grunts and whines as they tried and tried to do as mom said, only to fail and have her lead them down instead. Where they wound up is anyone’s guess. The babies are at that awkward stage – too big for her to carry home and too small to get home on their own.

I don’t want them in anyone’s attic and I’d rather they live away from our neighborhood but… I find myself now concerned about their safety and hoping they’ll soon get that upper body strength necessary to find their way back “home”.

For your viewing pleasure… this is what I watched from my window this morning:

Raccoons in the Roof Part IV

It’s been four years since we first heard eerie scratching and crunching above our heads at dusk and dawn only to learn a family of raccoons had taken up residence in our attic crawlspace.  Since that time, we and the raccoons have taken turns sealing and ripping up the grated vents which allowed the raccoons entry in the first place.

I’ll let you guess who did the sealing and who did the ripping up.

Here’s my first take on the experience – Shhh-What’s that noise?

Many of us in our little row of attached homes have bolted the grates in place in such a way that the raccoons no longer fight to get in. Others have been less fortunate. Take this poor guy at the end of the row near the rail tracks…

How about a closer look…

Cute. Kinda. As long as it’s in ‘someone else’s’ attic.

Yeah. There they are. Two here in the photo and one already on the ground after having slid, headfirst, down the drain pipe. They’re not the most graceful creatures, you know. The chubby one who landed first, landed with a thud after he let go of the drain pipe about two yards above the ground. Not sure what possessed him to do that.

One thing is for certain about these guys – they’re resilient. They come back year after year. Every late winter/early spring, the mamas are looking for a place to den. They fooled us a few years ago when we thought we’d outsmarted them. Here are my two updates on the subject –Update 1 and Update 2.

But the raccoons weren’t outsmarted. Certainly not by us mere humans. They just didn’t need the safety of our attics anymore that year.

So, last evening, I sat on my porch for about twenty minutes watching these guys scratch and stretch and chatter on about… I don’t know… maybe how to get down from the awning without leaving lumps on their noggins.

They’re really cute from afar. But they’re wild animals and that means we all have to remain diligent with our kids and our pets. I know first hand how vicious these raccoons can be since they attacked a stray kitten in my yard this time last year. I don’t want to call in professionals who will be forced to destroy these guys. They’re only doing what they’re supposed to do – sleeping during the day and foraging for food at night.

Yes, they’re a nuisance. Yes, they’re scary. And yes – the worst – they could be sick and most certainly have fleas.

Call me a bleeding heart. I just can’t see putting down animals simply because they disrupt our quiet summer nights by strolling through our yards in search of food. I do think the owners of the house where the raccoons are squatting should seal up the vents in a more raccoon-proof manner but the rest, I think, should be up to Mother Nature.

What say you? How would you handle a family of raccoons in your neck of the woods… or in your cement block of city, as the case may be…

THIS is the Great Pumpkin!

As many of you know, for the past year, we have had issues with raccoons in our yard, on our porch and in our attic. Well, we believe the attic problem to be solved. Raccoons are still, however, tearing apart our yard in search of food and leaving rather… personal… ‘gifts’ on our porch. 

And so, this year, while in search of a just-right pattern for our annual pumpkin carving night, I happened upon a photo on the web and knew it was THE one. I printed the photo to use as a template, and we did our carving last night. (see our pumpkin photo below)

I wish a happy and safe halloween to all my friends. May the good in you keep things cool while the ghoul in you plays unrestrained.

Pumpkin carving

Days 1, 2 and 3 – Charleston, South Carolina

Tuesday we drove and drove and drove. We drove for so many hours from New York to Charleston, that by the time we arrived, we were all dizzy with fatigue. However… we’d arrived!

Downtown Charleston – the historic district – is a mirror into the past. Stunning porched homes with crape myrtle blooming in the yards, sit close to the street and close to each other.

The area now is almost exactly as it was 200 years ago, and honestly, when we blurred the vision of autos and parking meters, we could just about see hooped-shirted ladies with parasols strolling down the narrow walks.

Sadly, it seems much of the town has not had the funding it very much needs and deserves. However, attempts are clearly being made to restore some of the old and glorious structures.

While the everyday homes were a joy to see, the homes along the battery were a wonder for the imagination.

Our first full day here included a narrated horse and carriage ride through town and then a walking ghost and dungeon tour in the evening.

Though we never met up with a spirit from the nether world, I can assure you, it wasn’t for lack of trying. We even had dinner in one of the ‘haunted’ restaurants. No one haunted it while we were there (that we know of), but that did not stop our imaginations from wandering – and after all, isn’t the imagination the most playful and exciting thing there is?

Today, we toured Charles Towne Landing Historic Site. Charles Towne was the first settlement in the Carolinas, settled by the English 1670. Archaeological digging is still being done on the acreage but it is still an amazing place to be. It’s actually impossible to grasp the concept of how these people lived – here in a brand new world, months away from their homeland, their village guarded by palisades and marshes for fear of attack from either Spaniards or natives.

Holes for posts from the original palisade were uncovered – which in itself amazes me – and a replica has been built in its place. A portion of the palisade is still being excavated, as are other areas within the site.  Still visible, are the earthen works and trenches for fortification of the settlement – which is similar to areas of Yorktown, Virginia and of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

I’d love to come back here in a few years and see what else they’ve uncovered from this historic site… or to simply enjoy the gorgeous landscape.

Oh! And just a small oddity I need to share with those of you who know about my ‘raccoon in the roof’ issue… I thought maybe we were being stalked. LOL. Check out what was foraging while we were strolling through Charles Towne Landing… and yes, at mid-day, this is a rather curious sight…

Apparently, there is a mama raccoon and her babies here. For some reason, it’s not unual to see members of this particular family nosing around the area during the day. I’m glad, because I’d hate to think this cutie was sick.

Anyway… tonight, we’re off to a dinner cruise along the harbor…

Raccoons in the roof update #2

time for my closeupWell…

As some of you might remember from my original raccoon post and my first update, we live in a row of attached homes here in the city and during the winter, a couple (maybe 3) raccoons went house-hopping, taking up residence each night in one of our attic crawlspaces. We would hear their footsteps crunching overhead and worry they might fall through our ceilings. Fortunately, that has not happened.

Here in the city, the law is that raccoons cannot be trapped and transported. Rabies is the concern. That means all licensed trappers MUST trap and kill these poor creatures. I know some people view them only as vermin, but I’m sorry, I just will not pay someone to climb on my roof and set a trap that will slowly strangle an animal to death.

I researched and found humane ways to rid attics and other areas of raccoons. Murder is not the only way.

For those interested, here are some proven methods of HUMANE animal evictions –

~~It is best to leave them alone until mom moves the babies out.

~~Scare them out. Use caution! Just making your presence known will usually do it. Go into the attic a few times a day with a flashlight. Shine the light on them and talk to them. But if touched or threatened, by being cornered or feeling boxed in, they will defend themselves and they are quite adept at doing so.

~~If there are babies, give the mother 1 or 2 nights to relocate the family.

~~Roll some rags into a tight ball and tie with twine to keep them tight. Soak the rag balls in ammonia. Toss them into the area of the attic where the raccoon is located.

~~If you can, sprinkle Cayenne pepper or Repel® granules, a commercial dog and cat repellent, around the entry hole, both inside and out, if this is possible.

~~During the day, place a radio in the attic tuned to an all talk station.

~~Use floodlights to keep the area where they are living well lit.

~~Once the raccoon has moved out, secure their entry point. Use hardware cloth or welded wire.

~~They usually won’t come back. If you want to use a repellent, then you can either Sprinkle Repel® granules or Cayenne pepper around the entrance area, if that is possible; or use a repellent, such as Ropel®, sprayed around the entrance area.

Check out the Urban Wildlife Rescue website for more HUMANE tips!

Havahart Live Animal Trap

In our case, one neighbor bought a Havahart trap and set it on his roof. He caught one – a VERY large one – then sealed up his roof and released the raccoon back into our attached yards. Poor creature ran off terrified – but at least s/he was alive.  Since then, not one of us has heard the pitter-patter of furry feet overhead. And ALL of us have, or are in the process of, sealing up our vents so neither we nor the raccoons will be in danger of experiencing this same situation next year.

Alls well that ends well. 🙂

*no animals were hurt in the making of this blog.

😉

Raccoons in the Roof – update

Well this sucks. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned we have a family of raccoons living in our attic crawl space. We’re in a row of attached homes, and this family has taken over each house’s crawl space. We called someone who said he would trap them, relocate them, then seal up the vents so nothing/no one could get back inside.

That’s not exactly what he intended to do.

We live in an area where rabies is high. It is illegal to relocate these animals. Instead, the trapper would use traps that kill.

I am an animal lover to my core and cannot reconcile with this. I’ve called… I don’t know how many different people… hoping SOMEONE would offer another option. My thought was, they could simply ‘evict’ this family somehow, then seal up every possible entry. Unfortunately, the experts tell me the raccoons will tear apart the roof if they really want to get back in.

Part of me wants to give them until the spring – after their babies are born and are old enough to get out on their own – and seal the holes then. But, how do we know they’ll leave at that time? We don’t. Simple.

Only one person said he can trap them without killing them. He said, his traps would hold them until all of them are out and the vents are sealed, and then he’d release them near the tracks (where we know they came from). Problem is, he said it’s a bloody mess because they will fight until they either free themselves or die.

I’m sorry this is such a downer, but I’m really in a bad spot now and have no idea what to do. Some of the neighbors involved are fine with the traps that kill, others are as distraught as I am. How can you kill an entire family of raccoons on the off-chance they have rabies? Someone said to drop mothballs into the vents. Apparently raccoons don’t like the smell of them (who does?) and might leave on their own. Thing is… how will we know they’re all out? Yuck. Messy and difficult situation.

I’ll keep you posted.

Shhh… listen… what’s that noise?

It’s about 9pm and I’m watching American Idol with my 12 year old. The commercials are so loud, we mute the volume when they come on. And that’s when we heard it. The pitter-patter of tiny feet.  There haven’t been tiny feet in my house since I adopted my cats almost a year ago.

I held my breath. Listened…

Sure ‘nuf, there they were. Scratchy little spine-tingling sounds. Over head. In the attic crawl-space. Mice? But with mice, you can’t hear the crunch of each step, like someone walking on the roof. Hmm. What could be so large it would make the sound of adult footsteps and yet be so small that it could fit through a tiny vent in the roof that leads into the crawl-space?

I live in a row of attached houses (in the city, mind you) and I called a neighbor. Yes, indeedy, she’s heard the same crunchy-scratchy sounds and has no doubt that it’s a raccoon. A raccoon? How could a raccoon get into the attic? Unless there’s a hole in each of our roofs, how could they get in? But, what else could it be?

I told DH that I believed it could indeed be a raccoon. He gave me THAT look. You know the look. It’s the same look Archie used to give Edith. It’s the look that says, “HUH?!”

He ‘patiently’ explains there’s no room for a raccoon in the crawl space. There isn’t an opening large enough for one to get in, but only a 4×6 inch grated vent. Besides, IF they were up in the crawl-space, they’d have to balance on beams or risk falling through the ceiling.

I didn’t care about the specifics, I just wanted them gone. “I don’t know how they’re up there, but they are.”

He nodded in that way.

“Seriously,” I said. “You have to do something about it.”

He all but patted me on the head. “Yes, dear.”

Two nights ago, around midnight, we hear screeching, chirping and thumping outside my daughter’s window. There’s a steel porch off her bedroom and the sound of a physical fight of some sort was boinging through the chilly night silence. I rush to her room and pull up the shade. Right there, not 18 inches away, are two raccoons tumbling and clawing at each other, making these horrible squeals as they flip each other head over heels onto the metal porch. I opened the window and shouted through the screen, “Get! Off! My! Porch!”

They stopped fighting with each other and, in a show of unity, froze in place, their fists tight in each other’s fur, and stared me down. I closed the window slowly. Locked it, drew the shade and backed away. After calming Daughter and telling her, no, there was no reason for her to come sleep in my room, I heard another odd sound from outside. I peek and lo and behold… those little masked bandits were climbing up my drain pipe and onto the roof! Seconds later, there it was, that scratching and heavy footstep above my head – they’d gotten into my attic again! There had to be a hole in the roof, there had to be!

In the morning, hubby went onto the roof to find the hole and found that the grates over the tiny vents on all of our attached roofs were bent upward. He pushed them all down and back into place. Well… yesterday evening, he went back up and guess what? All the grates were bent up yet again. These furry buggers have been squeezing themselves through those small openings and setting up house among the insulation and crossbeams!

“So…” I said, “We have raccoons in the crawl space… don’t we.”

He wouldn’t look me in the eye. “Yes, dear.”

Not only did he have to acknowlege it to me, but he had to convince all the neighbors that this is indeed what’s been happening. It seems everyone in our row – about 10 families – have heard the noises at some point over the past few weeks. I guess no one could believe animals that large could get through openings that small. They’re all believers now.

Someone is coming this week to trap them before they have their kits. Yes… they’re pregnant. It’s mating season and their kits will be born in less than two months. These are the mama’s and they’re looking for safe, warm dens where they can have and keep their young. They’ll be trapped and relocated to a large, local park and then the vents on our roofs will be bolted into place.

Future squatters will have to find another place to live.

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