April 17, 2010

Tracking the Raccoon

Due to my recent encounter with a raccoon I've decided to research about the little varmints. 
These facts stood out to me:
  • Raccoon droppings may carry a parasite that can be fatal to humans.
  • Raccoons make several types of noises, including hissing, growls, snarls, and snorts.
  • If found in a chimney, then sprinkle coyote urine or raccoon eviction fluid on a rag and wedge it in above the damper.  (Yes, that was coyote urine.  We always keep a large quantity of that on hand, you know, just in case.) 
  • Signs of raccoon predation in a chicken coop include the birds’ heads bitten off and left some distance away, only the bird’s crop being eaten, stuck birds pulled half-way through a fence, and nests in severe disarray.
  • Raccoons have been known to be able to maneuver door knobs.
  • Raccoons can carry rabies.
This research got me feeling a little concerned.  I asked a neighbor what she would do if she had a raccoon living in her garage.  She replied, "I think they eat fish.  So you could feed it that."

I decided to ask a different neighbor.  I wasn't really in the market for a pet raccoon.  (I won't even let my kids get a dog.) 

Rex went to town instead to buy a live trap and set it on our roof where I've been hearing creature sounds off an on over the past year.  (We thought it was mice last fall, but the traps all stayed empty.)

This morning I woke up at 4:00 to the sounds of scuffling overhead.  I decided I wanted to know what this creature had been doing and where it was staying before it was caught in Rex's trap.  So I jumped out of bed grabbed my highly technical "raccoon tracking gear" (bread flour, a measuring cup, and a flashlight) and climbed to the roof.  I got out my flashlight and looked around.

There was nothing on the roof and no animal in the trap.

I took my "gear" and started spreading flour around the roof's surface so I could see what footprints would show up.

It was cold, and deathly still as I worked.

Suddenly I heard a deep guttural growling sound behind me.  I gasped and nearly lost my footing.  Shaking, I turned around.

All I saw was a pipe.  A pipe that was sucking in air to flush the toilet.  I guess Rex was up.  He came outside and got a good laugh as he watched me shaking on the roof with my huge container of flour.

We'll just see who gets the last laugh when that scientifically spread flour turns up some interesting clues in...
...the case of the scuffling creature.

(By the way, does anyone know if it's going to rain tonight?)


  1. Add a touch of salt, stir evenly, and then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with tossed greens and your finest bottle of bubbly, and enjoy.

    Sorry, that's what came to mind with all that talk of flour. With all the stuff I baited the trap with and the flour, this raccoon will have more food storage than we have. If the big earthquake hits, we'll have to move in with it.

  2. hahahahaha!!! jenny you CRACK me up every time! i can't believe you crawled on the roof at 4 am. if i did that in pittsburgh my neighbors would call the police. even if they knew it was me. you rock.

  3. "I guess Rex was up", tee hee! I love toilet talk.
    I think the flour is genius! Add a little newspaper and when it rains you can have a paper mâché roof.

  4. You are a pretty proactive raccoon hunter. and a creative one too. how did you get on your roof anyway? You get yourself into some comical fixes. Maybe you should write a book. Or just publish this blog. You are the double threat. You have an interesting life AND the way you write makes it even better.

  5. LOL I am totally picturing you up there pouring flour! OMG that is hilarious!

  6. Varmints, beware!
    I'd have given up as soon as I saw cat droppings and blamed it all on the neighbors feline.
    But I hope you get your raccoon. You could wear a coonskin hat.

  7. I'm too lazy at 4 am to even roll over let alone crawl around on the roof!