this is NOT the same raccoonRacoons!

Read on for the full story!

Raccoon #1 was chased out of the house on the most fucked up day of my life, a windy February day in 1999. Not only was it my first day at my new job, but I had to chase a raccoon out of my house before showing up. Then, I wasn’t sure if I was going in the right direction, so in the process of trying to ask the police for directions, I got their gun pointed at my head and experienced a rather awkward and polarizing two minutes that I will never forget.

But anyway, the latest racoon, Racoon #2, has been living in our attic for around 6 months or so. The first time I heard it, Carolyn was out of town and I could not even get back to sleep, hearing so much scratching coming from different directions around me. It was very Wes Craven. Various noises went on for many months, and finally I went up there and saw the raccoon. Came face to face with it, in the attic, wearing a hard-hat, with a board (old broken attic step) in my hand to smash it with. But it managed to cram in behind my own stack of numbered boxes (it had chewed through box #1! Now we have to re-catalog…) and I couldn’t get to it. A big discussion ensued on Carolyn’s blog about the raccoon and how to handle it.

Anyway, we finally called some pest patrol people, but the guy working for them was more than happy to tell us things that weren’t in his best interest and pretty much convinced us not to use his services. Besides, $100 per extra raccoon they trap could add up. After having an estimate for $280 for them to catch it and repair the entry area (it might have actually be worth it for that), Carolyn went to Home Depot and paid $41 for a trap.

She set it, and we had a captive within 4 hours.

The raccoon had, in the attic, grabbed bubble wrap and attempted to pull it into the cage. Those things nest like crazy. So, the bubblewrap was already on the edge of the cage providing some bite protection (I never used gloves…), and some was laying around which I used to buffer between the area between my hand and the cage handle.

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1632 - the raccoon in the attic
20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1634 - the raccoon in the attic

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1641 - raccoon in the attic

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1662 - raccoon grabbing bubble wrap

However, the raccoon was not aggressive at all anyway. The most we ever got out of him was a tiny growl, a couple huffy “hiss” breaths, and some playful biting of a rubber toy we put in front of his mouth.

Anyway — Photo shoots ensued!

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1654 - Misfit hisses at the raccoon

^ the cat did not like being forced into closed quarters with him… “Do a long one!”, we say — telling the cat to do a long meow.

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1644 - Misfit vs. raccoon

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1670 - Misfit in hall, raccoon in room parallel

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1649 - Carolyn, Misfit, raccoon

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1652 - Misfit vs. raccoon

And those pictures will be posted HERE later.

Eventually, my youtube will have video of Misfit really really not liking being near the raccoon… We all went into the media/foosball room together, and any of my personal houseguests know just how little free space there is for a cat and a raccoon trap in there. He would growl for like 20 seconds straight.

We decided to leave the trap outside during the night — don’t want it peeing and pooping on our floors, or attacking Misfit, or escaping and messing up our house…. And if the raccoon froze to death that would just be too bad because there’s not much recourse, and we wanted to sleep; it was bedtime. However, we knew it wasn’t going to freeze; it hasn’t been that cold lately.

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1675 - flamingo, raccoon, famingo (outside)

So, we couldn’t release him, we didn’t want to kill him, and no, contrary to popular belief, it is not possible to get animal control or any authorities to lift a damn finger about it, unless you claim it’s rabid. Animal control also will not trap an animal in your attic, only in your “living space”. But if you trap it yourself… it’s your own damn problem.

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1679 - the morning after, raccoon sleeping

Basically, the police repeatedly told us “do whatever you want with it. Release it near some woods. You can take it to a shelter, but it will be euthanized.” I kept insisting, “This has got to break some kind of law! Rabies! Liability! I can’t just go releasing wild animals in peoples’ yards.” The police insisted it was fine.

Maybe my insistence that it must be illegal will cause the policeman to question the political state of the country and not be so harsh in the future. (Probably not… That’s very wishful thinking.)

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1682 - raccoon grabs stick

Anyway, we got the cage, but setting it in the garden was a mistake. I think I did this to be hospitable to the raccoon, but it really just dirtied up my car. It had nested quite an amount through the cage, and still had a bit of bubble wrap as well. It was cold, in a ball, and had slightly submerged itself in the mound of dirt it made. We had to put the cage in awkward angles and poke the dirt out with sticks for quite awhile. This caused the raccoon to grab some of the sticks, so we got some “raccoon grab” pictures … Seeing a raccoon hand in action is extremely interesting. The cage was still VERY dirty, and according to Carolyn the raccoon was very smelly. For some strange reason, my sense of smell wasn’t kicking in this time.

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1685 - close up of raccoon

So we drove past the 495 exit on 236, and found a neighborhood that seemed sparse enough to release it in. It has some parky name like “Treepark Dr.” We were a bit concerned about the “neighborhood watch” signs in the area, thinking some NIMBY-fueled maniac ape would come beating his fists on his chest at us…

But I could say “the police told me to do this” now! After all, if the Fairfax County police say it’s okay that you murdered someone — it apparently is.

Turns out, there was a park at the bottom of the hill / corner of the long street (which smelled like butane during parts). So we stopped there and got the cage and camera.

We walked 30 paces into the park (cage heavy!), and released the raccoon — getting video of its release, and also following it around taking more pictures of it.

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1686 - Carolyn is getting ready to release our friend
^ armed with a stick in case the raccoon attacks ^

^ raccoon release ^

It really didn’t mind being around me… It wouldn’t let me get within 7 feet or so; it would only walk away from me; it would try to put itself on the opposite side of a tree trunk from me; but it didn’t quite run away per se, unless I made excess noise while walking, and even then it only slightly sped up.

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1689 - released raccoon tries to hide behind tree

20070730 - raccoon 2 - IMG_2869 - Raccoon is free
20070730 - raccoon 2 - IMG_2870 - Are you threatening me?!?

It went to the creek and finally got a drink after having no water for at least ~30 hours (though I really don’t know where one gets water in our attic). I think I got a photo of it taking that drink.

20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1690 - released raccoon into the park - quenching his thirst
20070325-26 - Catcha the raccoon - 116-1691 - released raccoon into the park - arching his back like a cat

There was a load of dirt in the backseat — but those huge brush ice-scrapers turn out to be really good dirt-scrapers too, so the car was kinda cleaned again. Yuck.

Now I wonder if we can catch anything else with this raccoon trap…….

this is NOT NOT NOT the same one!  those pics will be posted later.
Ours did not look nearly as mean.
He was kinda cute.
This guy just looks evil.