by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO- You don’t really know an animal until it spreads your trash over a one hundred square foot area. That is how we met our local raccoons.
You’d think something like a raccoon infestation would be “disclosed” when you buy a home. This was not. And now that I think of it, if it HAD been mentioned, we would have thought it odd. After all, how much of an impact could a measly little raccoon have on a farm?
As it turns out, there is impact in numbers. One raccoon might kill a chicken now and then; eat some dog food; try to figure out how to get its hands on the hummingbird feeder . . . those kinds of things. But an entire HERD of raccoons can cause quite a bit of mischief on a regular basis.
For instance, they like apples. So even before the apples are ripe, they will descend on the trees like conquering hordes, knocking down green apples, which they will NOT eat because it turns out they are NOT RIPE. You’d think an animal that makes its living collecting fruit would know an apple is not ripe before it knocks it out of a tree. Not so. They are such highly motivated scroungers, that it never occurs to them while they are harvesting that they won’t like WHAT they are harvesting. Another thing about raccoons, they do NOT wash all their food before eating it. I swear I read this in a book in grade school – some cutsie story about a raccoon finding a sugar cube and trying to wash it before eating it. Evidently this is an urban legend (and what are city people doing making up stories about raccoons anyway?) The reason I’m so positive about the “washing” thing is that one or more raccoons got into our trash and ATE pieces of paper towel and Styrofoam (obviously these taste better than unripe apples) – no water faucet in sight. As much as I’m sure this resulted in gastric distress, the raccoons were not hesitant to return the following night and snuffle around in the apple tree (picking more green apples).
And about the noises raccoons make. The Disney Corporation would have us thinking that raccoons speak to each other and other small animals in a sweet and childlike voice. They bat their eyes and come up with cute games for the woodland animals to play. But raccoons at OUR farm communicate with each other more like the characters in Animal House. They grunt, they snuffle, they nip and they snort. Yes, they do snort. I heard them. Now maybe snorting is one raccoon’s way of telling another raccoon that the apples he’s picking are green, like laughing and snorting at the same time. That I don’t know. But I’m sure of this: The world raccoons inhabit is far different than a Disney movie.