Hangin' With Raccoons
Wildlife in the Backyard
When we first moved to our area, there was an abundance of wildlife in our backyards. We had deer, raccoons, rabbits, opossums, chipmunks. squirrels and lots of birds. Unfortunately, as the human population increased, trees were cut down, fences were erected and the wildlife decreased.
Sadly, in my own backyard, while we still have birds, we rarely see even a chipmunk or a squirrel. However, my parents still have a thriving wildlife haven. They live less than a mile from us, but Mom and Dad have worked hard to maintain a safe environment for the local wildlife.
I have learned a hard lesson. The next time I purchase a home, I will search for acreage where I have a lot more personal control over my own surrounding area. For now, I will enjoy my parents backyard.
A Commom Sight in My Parent's Backyard
Night Shot through the Window
The raccoon is probably best know for his "bandit" face markings and his bushy ringed tail. I am personally fascinated by their feet. Each of their front feet has five dexterous toes, allowing raccoons to grasp and manipulate food and other items.
Because they are not very good hunters, they are commonly known as scavengers. They will indeed eat just about anything and have been known to raid garbage cans or "clean" grills at campsites. I am also intrigued by the fact that they "wash" their food. My dad leaves water out for them and I always laugh when I see them dip their food, piece by piece, before they place it in their mouths.
Raccoons are scientifically considered highly intelligent. They have extremely long memories. Some studies have shown that they are able to remember the solution to tasks for as long as three years. It would seem they can tell time too. If my father does not come to see them by 6:00 pm every evening, they will come up to the windows and check in on him. They are not too keen on company, so they will often run away if they do not recognize a guest in the house.
While I would not recommend keeping raccoons as house pets, as long as a raccoon is not cornered or threatened, they are not dangerous. Dad's raccoons know him, I would even say they love him. The mother raccoons bring their babies out to introduce them to him every spring. As a result, my mother and father have named a few of them and they can recognize them by their markings. In a few cases, they recognize them by their behavior.
Raiding the Bird House Feeder - He Thought No One was Looking!Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Few Facts about Raccoons
- Length: Up to 3 feet including the 12" tail.
- Weight: 15 - 40 lbs.
- Average Lifespan: Up to 5 years (have been known to live up to 20 years in captivity)
- Active mostly as night, dusk or dawn
- Dens are used for shelter and raising young
- Eats just about anything, including insects
- They are excellent swimmers and can stay in the water for hours
- Excellent Climbers ~ They do tend to climb trees to rest out of harms way
I happened to be visiting my parents one afternoon when raccoon decided to raid the bird feeder. Remember, raccoons will eat anything, including insects.
The photos on the right are not the best pictures since they were taken through the glass window, but I couldn't help but take those snapshots and share them here.
Miss. Kitty is certainly intrigued by Mr. Raccoon
This video was not taken in my parent's backyard, but I thought you might enjoy watching it.
A Little Note of Warning
As you can tell, our family loves raccoons, but please remember, if you see a raccoon, DO NOT try to pet him or feed them from your hand. They do have claws and they are wild animals. They can carry diseases and often have ticks embedded in their fur.
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© 2010 Cynthia Sylvestermouse