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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