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Living with Raccoons

Updated on June 18, 2017
Mom Raccoon Visiting Us
Mom Raccoon Visiting Us | Source

Sharing Space with Raccoons

In the cities, we have a shared space agreement with raccoons. They live over the hedge defining our garbage as prime steak and we live indoors just barely aware that they're out there. But at the cottage, it's a whole different experience.

In the woods, it's their territory. We peek in and watch them in the trees or scuttling about in the ground, often as family groups, and understand ourselves as intruders. Maybe, more like sharers of the territory.

The raccoons poke about in the endless pursuit of food and that's where the fun begins.

Mom Raccoon at Work - Trying Hard to Get the Seeds

Raccoon at the Feeder
Raccoon at the Feeder | Source

Mom Raccoon at Work

In the picture, Mom is clearly trying to beef up to feed her new family living up the tree. She's a bit scrawny and she is defining anything edible as fair game including bird food. Look at that face. In there is a clear statement of don't mess with me. Your feeder full of sunflower seeds is history.

So, here she is poking at our feeder in mid-morning. Usually, raccoons are nocturnal so I was surprised to see Mom Raccoon at this time of day. She could see us through the window but that did not stop her. She must have been very hungry and probably had several kits depending on her.

Powerful Raccoon Paws

Power in Racoon Paws
Power in Racoon Paws | Source

Look at those raccoon paws

Here she is, powerful paws in action. Those paws have more nerve endings than our human hands. As such, raccoons depend on their sense of touch making them very adept at night. And those masks. Reminds me of what I have read about these creatures.

Because of those masks, the raccoons figure prominently as totems among the North American first nations. The raccoons are powerful symbols, believed to enhance the sense of touch, adaptability, cunning in avoiding danger and finding food.

Symbols Significant to Native Americans

Raccoon Watching for Humans
Raccoon Watching for Humans | Source

Raccoons as Powerful Totems

Bright and lively, smart, persistent and able to satisfy itself with what the moment offers, the raccoons are just the symbols to enable the North American tribes to survive. From such a totem, the native North Americans believe one can get the gift of touch, able to see even in the dark and cunning and persistence in the acquisition of food and the evasion of danger.

Though often portrayed as a trickster or mischief maker in legends, some North American tribes know that such trickery is often applied to acquiring food or avoiding danger or just harassing foreigners in their houses.

Folkmanis Mini Raccoon Finger Puppet
Folkmanis Mini Raccoon Finger Puppet

Why not get one for yourself? You can play this with your own neighbourhood raccoon. Just make sure you are safely inside and the raccoon is outside.


Do you like raccoons? - Get this raccoon finger puppet

This is the closest I would be to a raccoon. This finger puppet. I will definitely get this to show to our raccoons in the cottage.

As long as there is a window separating us, I feel safe and so does the raccoon. I think both of us will have lots of fun with this.

Do you feed raccoons? - Share with us

Raccoon at our Feeder
Raccoon at our Feeder | Source

Do you like feeding raccoons?

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Raccoon Feeding on Bird Feeder
Raccoon Feeding on Bird Feeder | Source

Should we encourage feeding raccoons?

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Mom Raccoon

Mom Raccoon
Mom Raccoon | Source

Raccoon Visit - Showing Off Her Kits

Mom Raccoon
Mom Raccoon | Source

Raccoons Remember Kindness

A friend told me about a mother raccoon she once fed regularly. As it was pregnant, my friend thought she is in dire need of supplement. The raccoon would come regularly to her back door where she would give her food.

One day, the raccoon just stopped coming. So, although she wondered what could have happened to it, she eventually forgot about her. But one early spring morning, my friend heard tapping and sounds from her back door. She went out to check and to her surprise, there was Mom raccoon with her kits.

My friend figured that Mom Raccoon came to show off her kits. She was really touched. Unhappily, my friend moved so she never saw the kits grow up but now, when she sees raccoons, her heart goes out to them.

Have a Raccoon Bean Bag - Cuddle a Raccoon

This toy will not only be fun to play with but one you can use to manage your feelings towards raccoons. Look at it, throw it to release your anger at raccoons, cuddle it to eliminate your fear and just have it around to remind you of your friend, the Raccoon.

Raccoons at the Bird Feeder

Our Resident Raccoon
Our Resident Raccoon | Source

Raccoons can test your patience

Raccoons, though, can really test your patience especially in cities where they sometimes do tremendous damage like taking over your garage or your attic. I just read a news story from Canada's capital city of Ottawa of a man facing charges because of the injuries he caused the raccoons. What a doofus. All he had to do was move his stereo to the attic and play Twisted Sister or ZZTop at full blast. The raccoons have better taste than we do and they'll leave.

When I think of the mischiefs the raccoons do regularly at the cottage, I also get angry but Grumpy always reminds me that for these raccoons, what they do is a matter of survival. While I love my feeders, I have to look at this from the raccoons' point of view. They must love the sweet nectar from my hummingbird feeder as they empty it each night. I am still upset from when they shattered my new hummingbird feeder. But the picture of them riding the feeder from the tree to the ground does make me smile.

Raccoon Revenge - Or Staking its Feeding Territory

Raccoon Revenge
Raccoon Revenge | Source

Raccoon Revenge or Marking her Territory?

Grumpy once vented his frustration at the raccoons by putting Vaseline on the feeder pole. That night we watched the raccoon come. Through the glass door, we watched her confidently scrabble up the pole to get at the feeder. First try, front end went up, back in slowly skidded down. Second try, extra effort went into the back end but with the same result. It was hilarious from the inside. She turned around and glared at us! She kept trying but she just could not make it to the top.

The next morning, we found mounds of raccoon poo on our flower pot and right at our doorstep. Maybe it is marking its feeding territory but to us, it was raccoon revenge.

Raccoons Opening Refrigerators

Off with a Loaf of Bread

I have read before that some raccoons go in homes and get into fridges. Well, it happened to us last summer. We have always left our boat house door open and so far until last summer, it has been left undisturbed. This summer, the raccoons finally got into the boat house fridge. Good thing, it was filled with drinks and just a loaf of bread so the loaf was all it enjoyed. Since then, we always put heavy things in front of the fridge.

Watch these raccoons - Smart and Interesting Animals

Who knows what they do at night in the cottage. I am sure they have a ball. They do work hard though to get at the feeder hoping it would fall down so they could have a feast. But I bet you they have fun as well. Raccoons are capable of making at least 50 different kinds of sounds so you will hear them.

Interesting Things About Raccoons

Know them better

Given that the raccoons are there to stay close to us, I decided to read up on them and well, discovered some interesting things about them.

1. Raccoons are omnivores. They eat almost anything those powerful paws can get but they are mostly fond of water creatures like crayfish, frogs, fish and snail. They also eat mice, insects, eggs, fruits and plants. But in cities, raccoons eat mostly garbage.

2. Raccoons tend to be solitary except females with young. They only pair up during the breeding season which reaches a peak in March to April. They also change dens every few days with no predictable pattern.

3. Females can have 1-7 kits or cubs in early summer after a 65-day gestation.

4. Raccoon kits, in their first two months, often stay up top a tree hole. They only come down when they are ready to forage for food. They stay in the Mother's home range during their first winter.

5. Raccoons can rotate their hind feet 180 degrees making them great climbers and able to go down trees head first.

6. Raccoons in the northern parts like Canada, sleep in their dens in the winter so they eat much in the summer to gain body fat.

7. Raccoons are capable of making at least 50 different sounds like growls, hisses, snorts, and purr. Sometimes, they sound like a sleeping Grumpy.

8. Raccoons create toilet areas (like our doorstep) away from their nesting places.

9. Average life span in the wild is from 2 to 3 years. Raccoon predators include cougars, bobcats, coyotes, and dogs. For the kits, large owls and eagles prey on them.

Raccoons and Us Wonder about Each Other - Staring at Each Other Through the Glass

Racoon in our Feeder
Racoon in our Feeder | Source

In the city, it's a bit of a take no prisoners war but at the cottage, both the raccoons and us peer through the window and wonder what on earth the folks on the other side of the glass are up to.

Our Continuing Raccoon Relationship - Guess Who's Smarter?

Raccoon in the Deck
Raccoon in the Deck | Source

Guess who's smarter in the battle with raccoons?

We still get regular deposits of poo at our doorstep. It seems that raccoons have very good memories so I think we will have to live with this.

Each year is a battle to make sure no food is lying around where the raccoons can get at. We make sure the barbecue is clean. We do not throw food outside even fruit peels.

We take the necessary precautions but this relationship will continue to unfold as our home is in this particular raccoon's home range and on balance, she's smarter than we are.

Mom Raccoon in Relaxation - Getting Ready for the Long Winter

Raccoon Relaxing
Raccoon Relaxing | Source

The Raccoon Battle and the Fun Continues

Mum relaxing on the trees for a long winter before it starts all over again in the next spring. And the battle continues and the fun as well.

Do you have a raccoon story to share? - Here's space for you

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I will be so petrified if that happened to me. Thanks for the visit Sharon.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 4 months ago from Texas

      Beautiful article and pictures. I had one experience with a raccoon which came into the house in the city where I lived and got on the bed beside me and was licking my arm, I called out to mom and she turned on the light and there was a big raccoon and they chased it all over the house and then one of my brothers opened the door and it ran out.

      Thank you very much for all the info.

      Blessings always.

    • srirad0675 profile image

      Srikanth R 4 months ago

      Nice article about fascinating animal!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Sorry about that. They do create damage but we just have to live with them.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 months ago from England

      We don't have raccoons over here, but they are so cute! lol! we have squirrels that dig my pots on my balcony! lol!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 14 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Rachel. We do live with them in the cottage and they are often much wiser than us.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 14 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Mary, You made raccoons sound endearing. I don't have anything against raccoons, I think they are cute, but I never came in contact with one and never saw one close up. I think the story about the raccoon having revenge on you by pooping on your door step, is hilarious. I loved the video and the pictures. I did learn a lot about them also. Thanks for all the work.

      Blessings to you.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 17 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I know.I do feel bad, too, about our encroachment in their area so we try to share.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 17 months ago from sunny Florida

      Hi Mary

      Love racoons but mostly from afar. We do have them in our area but I have never seen one in my yard. I have a pup who

      is in charge of all things outside so that may be the reason.

      It is a shame that we have encroached on their territory so much they they are forced to scavenge. You are so good to share with them :D

      Angels are once again on the way to you ps

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 17 months ago from America

      We had a mother raccoon bring in her little ones to eat. They were so cute. We enjoyed watching them.

      Our son had a pet raccoon he was a lot of fun. Once he got older he went outside and never came back.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 18 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      We have lots of wildlife, even bears and they're fun to watch as long as you stay inside. We even make the dogs stay inside.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 18 months ago from California

      Oh my god they are so cute! Remind me of my dog Riva. She's also a vermin, and a rascal :-) I only have wild bunnies where I live, and they never come to visit like your raccoons do, so I'm hopelessly jealous :-))

    • monia saad profile image

      monia ben saad 2 years ago from In my Dream

      Your photos a great story about this interesting animal. I do not know anything about him before. I think it's a good animal must deal with him and his little food will be good business.In the end it is part of nature and we must live with. Thank you..

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I am with you there about mice. We will them soon.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I generally don't care for vermin of any kind but your affection for the little rat bags comes through so I voted you up anyway.

      Be blessed and have fun with the little garbage stealers!

      I like that racoons eat mice. Cause I like mice even less.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      They truly are lovable when young. But watch out when for the Mom.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Peggy, that is always what my husband says. They do need to survive, too.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This was interesting and full of things I didn't know about raccoons. Their persistence is really amazing and the sensitivity of their paws and climbing abilities, too. I loved the video of the kits in the hammock. Very enjoyable.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I loved the photos you captured! Wonderful! We do have raccoons in the wild around Houston but personally we see more possums that come visiting. It has gotten so bad that I have given up trying to grow eggplants outside because most of them are taken before I can get to them when ready to harvest. The squirrels also do some of that. I guess they need to eat also! Up votes and sharing as well as pinning to my animals board.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Maybe not. We never feed them except when the babies have definitely their problems but they just go for the feeders. They will be there everyday if you start feeding them.

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