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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Raccoon Attack--MIDDAY!

five feet from me and starting to rear up

I was sitting here and had just heard the machine spin its last--2:00 pm. I was ready to hang clothes on the line. The most horrendous cackling and alarming arose from my hens, just outside the backdoor. They were not 30 feet from me. My heart leapt in my throat and the adrenalin kicked in. At the window I saw a raccoon digging furiously at the hole where the hens were taking a dust bath.
The light colors are buried feathers

They had all fled and were really making a racket. I was so afraid one had been injured. The hens were running all about. They stayed together. Pepper seemed to be accepted for the first time by Louise!


As I went silently for my camera, I kicked something. When I returned, the raccoon was gone because he heard me. I ran out in my nightgown and found the hens, fearful and skittish, still cackling and giving the alarm/predator signal.
blurry because my hands were shaking
Since the raccoon was out in the daytime, I decided the hens would remain locked up until I can catch the raccoon. Thelma, Louis, and Pepper wanted nothing to do with me or crumbs from a hamburger bun. Getting them into the pen was difficult.

A pocketful of corn was my next thought to get them into their pen. Poor things were afraid of my hoe. My staff might turn into a serpent, you know. I was carrying a hoe since I have heard that raccoons will attack a human if the human seems to stand in the way of food. Why don't I have a gun? Damn the zombies. Raccoons are my enemy.  I took my cell in case I were attacked. Whew! Adrenalin was pumping. Camera was in hand and turned on.

My hands are still shaking 45 minutes later!

I threw a strawberry in front of the opening and noticed the raccoon got it. When I baited the trap with chicken, I threw a tiny piece of chicken under the house. I never yell at raccoons or chase them because I want them to feel safe where they are. I also throw a bit of food down to entice them. The raccoon got the bit of chicken, too. "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

I had to get a pocket full of the corn I dehydrated to interest the hens in any food! Once I had them secure in their pen, Pepper brushed against Louise. Louise jumped two feet in the other direction and did not bother giving Pepper a peck. Louise just squawked.

Then, I had to get into the basement while I was shaking, hoping I did not trip and fall down the steps! Trap retrieved, I set it and baited it with a strawberry and a piece of cooked chicken.

As I went up the steps to give the raccoon a chance to take the bait, I decided to see if I could capture a picture if I sat quietly on the steps. Oh shit! I sat in dried shit! But, I sat tight and got the picture you see at the head of the post.

Keep you posted!

About the snake--I did get an egg for the first time in over a week! Every day, I do get broken eggshells. The chickens are not guilty. I am waiting for exbf to get here tomorrow to make the snake trap. I am afraid my hands won't be strong enough and I will lose a finger.

Your turn
Who has seen a raccoon out at midday? I have seen them early in the morning or late at dusk. Aack! Need some excitement? Come on by.

37 comments:

  1. Scary! The only time I ever saw a raccoon out at midday it had tremors from rabies. Please be careful!

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  2. That occurred to me when the raccoon was approaching me without fear. I hope it did not infect a hen.

    It was strange how the raccoon was digging furiously in the hole then hens were in. It did not turn its attention to the hens at all once they were away.

    I may call Animal Control tomorrow. Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

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  3. Linda, I agree--the masked beastie could be sick as they aren't fond of being outside during the day. I'm sure your chickens are okay as he was intent on digging the hole--do you think he was trying to get to the eggs?

    The first time I saw a raccoon I was gobsmacked--I knew they were big intellectually but I didn't realize how big. I always thought of them as little and cute. They aren't!

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  4. I hope you catch him soon! Stay safe!

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  5. Pamela,
    The hole was in the ground, so I am not sure why he would think eggs were there. I am still puzzled. He could have just kept going after the chickens. He would have gotten one eventually.

    Raccoons are always shown washing their food and never growling, hissing, or killing...good press for them!

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  6. Wendy,
    I warned exbf today that he needn't take on a rabid raccoon to save the hens. I carry a long hoe with a very small head...lightweight but security.

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  7. Good photo. Not so good experience. Take care.

    Barb.

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  8. Barb,
    Thanks. My hands were shaking, so the shot surprised me.

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  9. I found a baby coon in my driveway a few weeks ago. It was the cutest thing. It's momma never came back so I took it to a wildlife rescue.

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  10. The cute one I found climbing the rake leaned on my back porch was mewing so sweetly until I moved closer. Then, it hissed and bared its teeth at me. It was going to bite me! I hope yours was more docile!

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  11. It yelled and hissed at me but my son held and cuddled it (without my permission of course). I left for a few minutes and told the kids not to touch it. When I got back my boy was holding it on his chest. I'm glad it wasn't rabid. The wildlife rescue told me that the babies are almost always protected from rabies. Thank God!

    The woman at the rescue center took the coon right into her arms like a baby and threw the box into a big pile of boxes...lol

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  12. Free,
    I would have had a heart attack if I had seen my child holding the baby that hissed, growled and bared its teeth. Kids!

    Everygody brings animals in boxes she does not need...lol.

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  13. Today when I went out to water my plants on our 2nd floor deck, I opened the door and a smallish raccoon fled right across the deck, though its pace was was none to quick. I let out a small scream of surprise and looked around. Sure enough, there was Mama curled up in the far corner under the protection of some leafy vines (this was about 1 PM, temp about 30 degrees, deck facing straight west), and she wasn't going to move. As I moved forward she did take it upon herself to cross the deck and then slide under the railing and deck.

    I have never seen a raccoon out in public in broad daylight, and I know this isn't usual behaviour. Neither is their sauntering across the deck, before sliding out of sight. Are we dealing with infected animals here?

    Then

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  14. Call Animal Control and describe the behavior of the mother and her apathy after your small scream. There are live traps that the city will bring to catch an animal. A strawberry is a good bait. The Animal Control officers say to throw in a can of sardine or tuna.

    There are two objections of mine to this: 1) Don't waste the food. The raccoon is not going to assess the food and decide not to go after an empty can. Food is what he smells, not an empty can. 2) Cats will come to tuna. I catch cats and have to let them go. Cats won't come for a strawberry.

    Put out a strawberry out for three nights in a row. If it is gone in the morning, the raccoon has probably returned. Now that she is accustomed to strawberries, put out a trap, baited with a strawberry.

    I would guess the mother might be infected. However, it might be so accustomed to humans that it is not bothered in the least by your appearance. So, no knowing, I would call Animal Control and ask them to bring a trap. Don't take a chance. It could hurt you eventually if it strolls about in the daytime.

    Let me know how it turns out.

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  15. Interim Report:

    Thanks again for your thorough and prompt reply.

    In the meantime, we have been attempting to trap any raccoon that comes into our yard!

    We already own a genuine Ozark Varmint Trap, which we've used to very good effect over the years. This is not the first raccoon we've dealt with, but the first seen in daylight, and the first exhibiting very un-raccoon like behaviour (I speak in plurals, because there were two of them).

    We've set the trap on two consecutive nights with, yes, I'm sorry to say, lovely canned sardines. Both times, the can has been licked every so thoroughly, the trap door has been sprung, but not with the raccoon in the trap.

    My thinking is that she doesn't need to fully enter the trap to get the food (although we've dealt successfully with much larger males) and being lethargic, the door shuts on her tail and she's able to negotiate her way out.

    However, after the destruction of a major part of our carefully planted and tended "green" room (totally smashed about 100 sq. ft. of tall ferns), I'm mad. It seems to me that it would take more than one beast to inflict this damage. Turf wars? Sick raccoon turf wars? This one just doesn't add up!

    The trap has been set with a trail of strawberries luring her into it, possibly farther than before. We're talking about a small city yard here, not acreage in the country.

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  16. I cannot imagine an animal backing out of a trap. How large are the holes in the sides of the trap? No, too bad you don't have a camera or keep guard until all this happens again.

    The door locks shut on the havahart trap, so no backing out once the door is down. A tail would not keep it from locking.

    And, why rip the place up?

    I live in the city in a yard only 1/3 of a block! I understand. Do you know what raccoon scat looks like? Look it up and see if you can find it in the yard. It is very distinctive to me. Any scat should be saved for an expert to analyze. Keep me posted. I am interested.

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  17. Yes, we have almost countless incidents of scat, always in the same place, year after year (not that we have raccoons every year.) The idea of keeping it has really never occurred.

    I too am flummoxed by the destruction to the yard.

    And the latest -- last night, I went out the same door to the 2nd floor deck, and encountered resistance. My sister was asleep in the room, so I didn't want to disturb in any way -- just thought I'[d ask my husband about it in the morning.

    Of course I forgot. So this evening, when upstairs, I opened the door again. The resistance was the same. Because I had light this time, I could see that it was the rubber backed entrance mat that we have placed right at the door, all rolled up (widthwise, i.e. from the shorter end.) I asked my husband. No, he had done no such thing; he had not even cleaned up the scat yet.

    This is becoming too bizarre for me.

    So far, our best raccoon story involves a family that actually took up residence at the bottom of the chimney; they were professionally removed and the chimney closed up. Three months later we were alerted to irregularities in the furnace. One lone raccoon had survived without food or water for three months and was still down there. Out of doors is still better than in the house, but . . . . Had I not actually seen two raccoons, I might start to think of other animals. But I don't think so.

    I do wonder how, if they're so smart and becoming smarter, they haven't figured out the one and only type of trap that seems available to capture them.

    Thank you so much for you interest and input. We need a little support on this one.

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  18. Keep the scat. Put it in small medicine bottles, one to a bottle. Of course, just keep samples, not all of it. The rolled up rug? Rolled up neatly like a human did it or rolled up as in something tried to crawl under it and sort of crumpled it?

    That is funny and scary about the chimney raccoons and the one in the furnace. I wonder how it survived? Or, did another find its way in?

    Raccoons are very smart, learn and retain information for years. They test raccoons about getting into locks and taught them how. Then, years later they remembered all 13 or so locks, and only forgot 1. And, the older teach the young. Animal Control here lends traps to homeowners. Maybe you can get a different kind. It does not kill, not that I really care!

    Animal control (city entity can identify scat. So can pest control and critter control companies.

    I am eagerly awaiting the next episode.

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  19. It seems like you're more of a night creature as well (as I am, I mean); this is good!

    Synopsis: No animal of any kind trapped yet. But I can give you lots to think on before we start in for tonight's venture.

    Method last night (F - S): sardines in can behind the trigger, as always; three strawberries placed most strategically, 2 on path from large fountain to trap, 1 in trap. All three strawberries gone - that's all THREE! (Something to astonish every day!)

    To speak to some of your questions/comments:

    We are as sure as we've ever been that the creatures we are dealing with are raccoons. 1) The garbage bag outside was torn to shreds like it never has been before on Wednesday night 2) I actually had what I would call a semi-prolonged encounter with two raccoons on Thursday 3) My husband looked at one for a goodish time on the vines 4) We've had plenty of experience, which is why the daylight/lethargic issues became the chief concerns. We're aware of the dangers. Also caught David Suzuii's show featuring TO raccoons on YouTube via the cbc site. There are cats in the neighbourhood, but this is not cat activity as we know it.
    _______________________________________________________
    1)There are no holes in this trap. This serves a very good purpose, for both catcher and catchee which I'd have to go back to ask Trapper Tripp, near Branson, MO about. We've used this trap successfully from 2003.
    2) Prior to that we had in our possession a havahart trap from Lee Valley, which was replaced several times, but it never worked properly.
    3) Prior to that we always rented a trap from the Humane Society, which is the way it's done here. These traps were successful as well, but unavailable during the gestation of young season. Didn't suit me.

    We've been in the house 28 years; it's one of those century type brick houses so common in ON.

    I do have pictures, but wouldn't want to send them without your go-ahead.

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  20. ______________________________________________________
    Part II
    The rug, or rather mat, rubber backed and small:
    I'm not sure how I'd classify the manner it was rolled. On closer observation it seems more folded in three, not entirely random, but not absolutely neat and tidy. Domestic work is not my forte. There is no possibility that we know of that another human could have been up there. Plus, something I didn't notice at the time, one of my prize glass bottles from Mexico was knocked right over, but not harmed. After a while, I take these things personally! Several of my marigold plants have been deflowered.


    The mat is on the 2nd floor and I've only ever seen squirrels and raccoons up there, other than persons using ladders. The doors have three locks between them, because it is a door in my sister's room. She has Down Syndrome with an overlay of fairly developed Alzheimer's now, and is frightened beyond belief of heights. She has never initiated a visit out that door, and the idea of her actually doing something out there is quite unimaginable. No one else, that we know of, was the in the house that day.
    _________________________________________________________The chimney family was put in the hands of a professional critter remover, and we were assured that no creature remained after their initial doings - took a couple of weeks to get everyone out and not back in again.

    When we thought we heard scrabbling, maybe a month later, they came out and again assured us with a gold seal that there was not a living thing down there.

    The fact that one came to light (it was virtually bloodless, but still alive, and we did take it upon ourselves to put the beast out of its misery. But it took several hard blows to actually finish it off. blunt force trauma would I guess be the formal term. We have the furnace repair person and several
    interested neighbours as witnesses!

    I'd love to sign myself as something other than anonymous, but social networking was one thing that I backed out of right at the beginning. These are my first submissions to any sort of net-oriented activity!

    Also, I don't want to lose what I've written. So I go pretty fast, and miss a few things!

    Probably more later on this evening, or tomorrow. There is a possibility that the troupe has vacated our particular yard for the nonce, but they'll be back, and beginning to become very paranoid about the diseases these creatures carry and what they've all touched in our (and anyone's ) yard.

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  21. I see what you mean about the rolled/folded rug. It does sound like a raccoon for sure and not cat activity. I used to hear somethimg rambling in the basement, bumping and knocking things around. Nothing was ever broken, though.

    They are disease and bug-ridden, so you can imagine how I felt with three right in the house, having falling through the ceiling. And, they left scat behind. ACK!

    Send any pictures to my email at the top of the blow.

    If you keep putting out strawberries, they will visit and give you another chance for catching them. Let me know how it goes.

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  22. Only action overnight: 2 strawberries eaten, several more in trap not touched.

    We think this family has moved on, but will be back (unless they die en route). Probably keep a low profile for a couple of days!

    Photos should come from ArabesqueCreations@gmail.com.

    Thanks ever so!

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  23. Raccoons do seem to have a route, even if erratic that they take, eating here and there. The only exception might be in winter when they hibernate but do go out for food or in spring when a mother stays in one place for awhile with babies. They just go where the food is.

    Did these climb up to this second story? Or, did they come from overhanging trees? If you trim back branches, that would stop them from using trees.

    They say light and noise scare raccoons. But, that is only true if they are not habituated to people, lights, and noise. So, keeping a light or radio on will not work.

    What might work:
    Have a male pee all around where they might climb up.

    Use mountain lion pee meant to scare smaller game...lol...whatever kind of fox repellant you find in a hunting store. People will tell you it will make your place stink. No, it won't. I put it in the ceiling right over where I sit and never smelled it at all. The ceiling was down, so I just wanted the ceiling up and raccoons to never come back.

    Don't leave the strawberries out there if you think there is no more activity.(rot, flies, not appealing to raccoons) I wonder if they know what the trap is for. I would leave the strawberries in the trap tonight, just to see if they would come back and risk the trap.

    Put out fresh strawberries every day or so if you think they are around. By the way, squirrels like strawberries, too. We are overrun with squirrels! A swquirrel would not cause that damage but might come for the strawberries..lol. Keep looking for raccoon scat. Google it.

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  24. Well, unlike Elvis, the raccoons have not left the premises and I have the batted down marigold plants to prove it.

    This time the strawberries were followed until the entrance of the trap, not inside it. Personally, I do not consider a can of sardines a waste of food. But big plump strawberries -- whole other story!

    So we will continue our quest. I'd think there are at least 3 or 4 to capture.

    Don't know how I came up as marigold, but there you are!

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  25. Marigold,
    I just catch too many cats with canned fish. Plus, it is a waste if I am going to be feeding cats. Cover the trap with something, box or cloth. They like the dark. Put something shiny inside, like a ball of crumpled foil. They are inquisitive and seem to be drawn to shiny things. Make sure the cover does not bother the trap closing mechanism.

    You must have typed "marigold" in the name space. I think you should keep that name...lol.

    Right about the strawberries!

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  26. marigold,
    Put the shiny whatever way back inside the trap.

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  27. Well . . . It's been several days, and many attempts have been made, all to no avail.
    On Monday evening around 8 PM, I was greeted by 8, yes EIGHT of these delightful creatures when I opened the door of the 2nd floor deck. Their pattern of movement was really quite intricate and very smooth! And then suddenly, they were all sitting up, looking like anything that they were expecting me to construct Canada's Wonderland right there for their general joy and all round pleasure.

    WE have two more traps now, and last night I watched for about an hour as two of the raccoons sported about with the traps; they managed to lick everything clean through the holes in the wire grid (more fool I). But one of them did wholly and fully enter a tiny trap (made for a squirrel), but the blasted door did not shut. It wasn't set properly, as my husband didn't think it could take a raccoon, and he does the actual setting. Ha! Otherwise, I'd have a count of one.

    Did not recognize my first two among this set, although who am I to say? No signs of ailment here. It does however, feel as if one is absolutely helpless. They stay still in one place for so long, surely there must be a way!!!

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  28. Guns? Poison?

    The holes in the trap are wayyyyy too large if they can lick through the wires. Now, I do make sure that the food is directly in the center of the trap. Putting the trap in a box where it fits snuggly will force them to go inside. If they can get there arms through the wires to pull the food to them, the wires are definitely to far apart.

    You have a buffet, it seems, just for them. These raccoons have been fed by humans, I think. Once you catch one, they may move on to avoid your traps and return later. Have you thought about moving the traps to a lower level near where they climb up or destroyed your vegegation. With 8 of the little demons, I can see how they managed such devastation.

    Try putting the cage into a box where they cannot get to the food through the sides. Make sure the box does not interfere with the trap mechanism. If you can hang a shiny ball of foil, it will intrigue them and maybe entice them in to invetigate.

    The picture of the trap looked like a five-gallon bucket and I could not find a picture of it on the internet.

    Do you leave cat food out that could have attracted them in the first place or any other food source?

    EIGHT? That boggles my mind!

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  29. Well, I am overjoyed to announce some success! We trapped one adolescent on June 30/July 1 and the Mama on July 2, both on the second floor deck.

    It was the same trap each time that caught them. I had furnished all the traps with bright shiny aluminum foil balls.

    The older raccoon managed to do a large amount of damage from the cage: at the cedar boards adjacent, removed the carry handles and face plate, unpotted several marigolds, defecated and who wants to know the rest.

    It's a bit daunting to think how many more are out there -- actually I have no other choice than that being OK with me, as long as they leave my ferns, flowers and garbage alone!

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  30. marigold,
    Try moving the trap to the ground where they might be climbing up and where the damage will be minimal. Or, put boards on the deck underneath the trap. They can reach out about two feet, so put a large piece of plywood or boards they cannot move. Otherwise, they will move boards under the trap.

    They like it there, so keep trapping. They will eventually decide to come inside when it gets cool, and will rip into your house to get in.

    They have identified you as a source of food. Keep trapping, but move the trap. Maybe you can move it a little further from the house and keep putting foil balls. Actually, they will investigate foil balls without food being present.

    Congratulations!

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  31. Linda --

    Thank you! We're now up to six and hope not to keep on counting too much longer. Judging from the stereophonic chirruping I heard the other night, I fear a family of relatives has come aboard! Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the six. (I really hate to say it, but I find their little trilling sound is actually quite pleasant!) Capturing the parent was key, it seems to me. And where do all the grown males go?

    I take your point about unmovable boards under the traps. Also, moving the traps further and further from the house. Only problem is the 2nd floor seems to be the site of choice, and it's not all that big. We have caught on the main floor as well. Even so, there's not too far to go until we reach the fence, which encloses the entire yard. Where to go after that?

    Our chimney is sealed against all intruders, as we were host to a raccoon family for a winter a few years back. Are you saying they will eat their way in through wood? Of course, I know this is possible, as they've done wicked damage upstairs years ago. I'll have to check, but I think that there's not a square inch of the exterior that's not either brick or concrete.

    We've had raccoons before, without ever leaving food out for them until we wanted to trap them. Not every year, but often enough for me to feel fairly well-versed on the subject. Official bait is always in a container, includes some (awful) flaked ham, and then is tied up in fabric with ties on both ends, so there is work and time involved, and they really can't get it together to obtain the food from the back of the trap.

    Have I ever mentioned that we have a neighbour round the corner about 4 doors down who keeps live chickens????? I'd actually forgotten until I heard the chickens squawking up a storm the other morning. (It's legal to keep a certain number of live birds in proper conditions right in the middle of the city.) Alas.

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  32. marigold,
    if the raccoons ever get onto the chickens, they will kill them, of course. Have you warned your neighbors?

    Six is a good number to trap in such a short time. I would just move the trap along the fence. They can smell the trapped animal scent (fear and adrenalin) in the location where the animal is trapped. Of course, I am sure they are ripping up the ground! They did mine.

    As a matter of self-preservation, after you capture no more, I would ask neighbors about problems with raccoons. I would offer to set your trap in their yard. Getting all the babies and any others is the key to keeping the population down as best you can.

    You asked about the male. Once the male impregnates the female, he takes off. The mother or maybe two mothers stick, give birth and stay together with the young. Usually there is just one mother with her young.

    The baby raccoon mewing at me like a little kitten was precious, too. Then, as I reached for the rake, it snarled, showed teeth and hissed...yeah, precious. Even dangerous wild things are cute sometimes.

    Any roof flashing or wood or vents on the house are invitations to raccoons. Just keep an eye on things and listen for things that go bump in the night!

    Keep me posted. When your saga is over, I am going to write a new post and put a link to all our comments to one another. And, pictures.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Linda --

      I was sitting outside at about 1 AM and what did my wondering eyes behold? A possum!! Makes for a change!

      We've had one possum on the property before (that we know of) maybe 5 years ago. Didn't do anything about it. Totally different beast from a raccoon.

      It sounds like we live in some godforsaken northern wildlife reserve, but if you take a map of Kitchener Waterloo and put a pencil right in the exact centre, that's pretty much our location. City centre. Not the burbs. Not near a large city park. Well, relatively close, but not that close.

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  33. marigold,
    Amazing that wildlife will choose to live in a city. But, the eatings are better than in a wooded area. I have heard that raccoons and possums and other wild animals live in NYC. Also amazing.

    Possums will eat chickens and attack when cornered. But, they are not as aggressive and persistent as raccoons. Loud noiss and lights will frighten both unless they have lived with us so long that lights and noise are part of their experiences now.

    I do live within a mile of forests, so anything wild here in the city is not a surprise.

    Maybe you will get another raccoon or two before it is over. Thanks for keeping me informed.

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  34. Six nights with traps out and refreshed bait, but no raccoons. I'd like to think they've vacated. Two possums though.

    We're going to have to give some serious thought to discouraging critters, primarily because of possible disease, messing up well-tended garden areas, chewing up decks and strewing garbage everywhere. Also the threat of indoor residence.

    Thank you so much for your ideas and comments! If I write again, it will be in pure desperation!

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  35. Six nights, three baited traps, no raccoons. Two possums though.
    Don't want to leave traps out long enough to attract another raccoon famiy, but really don't want a family of possums either. Disease and nuisance (gardens, decks, breaking of glass) are my chief motivations to deter the animals from taking up residence.

    Thank you so much for all your comments and ideas. Will write again only if things become extravagantly desperate!

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  36. I don't think for a minute that you have "attracted" or encouraged raccoons or possums to your property with the trap. You are just now aware of them. But, six raccoons in the short time--week?--is really great. Shiny balls of foil and strawberries amd a trap worked.

    Raccoons will visit one property and then another, staying awhile and making rounds of several homes or possibly moving on forever. As you can see from your first encounter, they just come around for seemingly no reason.

    I would be curious to know if the neighbors have seen raccoons, had cat food disturbed, or had encounters/sightings.

    Don't wait until you are extravagantly desperate...lol. I would be interesting in hearing of any further news or sightings you or neighbors have. I am happy to be of help in your crisis.

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