Friday, November 05, 2004

Masked marauders

I used to think raccoons were cute – until I discovered that they were just big rats. My first clue was when I lived in a house on Grant St with a girl named Peggy. Peggy had an affinity for all things animal. She kept a pet hedgehog, strapped rabbit furs to her body as a Halloween costume (Pebbles Flintstone), and planned to live in a yurt, raising goats, for her senior project. One day she saw a dead raccoon on the side of the road. She scooped it up, brought it home, and skinned it. I first learned of this when she invited me out back to look at the skinned carcass. What she pulled out of the trash bag looked like a big, slimy, hairless rat. And it stank too. I subsequently blocked that disturbing display out of my mind and refused to think of raccoons without their fur.

Seven years later, I moved to Cincinnati. Despite being an urban area, it is overrun with raccoons. At first I thought the city’s many wooded areas drew them, as it has attracted deer. Then I found raccoons in the dumpster near my apartment. Somehow, they had gotten in, eaten their fill, but then couldn’t get out. They did look awfully cute. They were covering their darling masked eyes with their teeny-tiny paws and making chittering sounds. I dragged my husband out to see how sweet they looked curled up in the trash. The caretaker put a large branch in the dumpster so that they could get out. The raccoons escaped and lived to trash-pillage another day.

Shortly after moving to our house, we met our neighbor, Mary. Mary’s house had a blue tarp over one portion of the roof. She had a whole family of raccoons in her walls and the roof had to be torn up to get at them. She said she could hear them running above the ceilings at night. Mercifully, there was no smell. She spent $1000 on pest removal services. She was a little upset that the “critter gitter” euthanized the animals instead of freeing them. I had little sympathy for the raccoons.

Since then, I have had my own run in with the garbage-eating, home-infesting, rat-like monsters. They attacked my birdfeeder, actually ripping nailed pieces apart, and plundered its contents. They tipped my trashcan, ripped open the bag, and left trash all over my yard. Those hand-like paws I once thought so adorable are just tools for mischief.

Raccoons are a nuisance! They are as ubiquitous as, but much bolder than, the opossums of the West. On the bright side, like opossums, they seem to be run over by cars on a regular basis. Anybody know how to contact Peggy?


Blogger Grylloblatta said...

Raccoons are a pesky batch. Stay clear for their fangs and claws will do a number on you. Fortunately their furs do make nice blankets. Sounds like you need a Peggy or Ryan to take care of a few for you. Winter's coming after all. As for the meat, it's edible but I wouldn't eat it. Too many parasites. Pigeon on the other hand, mmm, goood.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Masked Marauders' - very clever and very appropriate! Living in the countryside of Wisconsin, raccoons (and opossums) were plentiful. They also ran rampant in town. Any cuteness flew out the window in those days, but the carnage of these creatures as road kill, maintained my empathy for anything non-human having to negotiate living WITH humans.

yours. SF

5:56 AM  

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