Aug 11, 2009

The Local Wildlife

I've talked before about the local raccoon population. The apartment complex is on a nature preserve so the raccoons, as long as they don't attack anyone, are safe from persecution here...and they are thriving. What amazes me about them is that they are fearless. On our way back home each weekend we invariable see one hanging out at the bin store. I was on my way to deposit the recycling when I caught this one coming out of the huge compactor bin... this is the automated bin that crushes the trash when you push the button, as I said...fearless.. He / she jumped down when I opened one of the recycling bins and hid behind the soon as I had finished he/she started to follow me back to the car..I did say to it that I only had empty plastic bottles, but it still kept coming ( don't know whether I thought I could train it...!)...just as I hopped back in the car it stopped by the bin and lifted itself in its hind legs to smell if I'd deposited anything tasty...sorry little one, nothing there...I think he realised and was soon back up the steps for some tasty treats.
I think they are so cute, but realise that they are not cuddly little bears...I do worry about their diets though. Raccoons will eat almost anything, but are particularly fond of creatures found in water—clams, crayfish, frogs, fish, and snails....hmmm none of those in the bin stores.....they also eat insects, slugs, dead animals, birds and bird eggs, as well as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds....well there is probably some cockroaches in there and some potato peelings...Around humans, raccoons often eat garbage and pet food....these ones are living solely off garbage..I am waiting for the day that I see a Raccoon making off with a piece of pizza...( I have seen a squirrel doing this by our apartment - imagine Gary...Squirrel and pizza in one place at once, it was too much for him!) ..the next stop for our little raccoons here will be diabetes medicine!!

A government website makes some recommendations about feeding Raccoons...Don’t feed raccoons. Feeding raccoons may create undesirable situations for you, your children, neighbors, pets, and the raccoons themselves. Raccoons that are fed by people often lose their fear of humans and may become aggressive when not fed as expected. Artificial feeding also tends to concentrate raccoons in a small area; overcrowding can spread diseases and parasites. Finally, these hungry visitors might approach a neighbor who doesn’t share your appreciation of the animals. The neighbor might choose to remove these raccoons, or have them removed.
Don’t give raccoons access to garbage. Keep your garbage can lid on tight by securing it with rope, chain, bungee cords, or weights. Better yet, buy garbage cans with clamps or other mechanisms that hold lids on. To prevent tipping, secure side handles to metal or wooden stakes driven into the ground. Or keep your cans in tight-fitting bins, a shed, or a garage. Put garbage cans out for pickup in the morning, after raccoons have returned to their resting areas
OK so our apartment complex inhabitants are breaking all the 'Raccoon Rules'...they leave food bags lying around without compaction, the lids to the recycling bins flip - too easy...
I also love the recommendation for how to prepare your children for a Raccoon encounter....
If aggressive raccoons are routinely seen in your area, prepare your children for a possible encounter. Explain the reasons why raccoons live there (habitat, food sources, species adaptability) and what they should do if one approaches them. By shouting a set phrase such as “Go away raccoon!” when they encounter one, instead of a general scream, children will inform nearby adults of the raccoon’s presence.
Do they believe that the Raccoons understand English?, maybe I was right to talk to the one by the bins...he is obviously more intelligent than I gave him credit for, and as such I am going to name him Eric, not after anyone, just looks like an Eric! I am going to ask hubby if we can adopt Eric so that he may have a proper diet, it will be an excuse to get more fish into Hubby's diet!

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