Raccoon by Isabel Thomas 24 pages
There are raccoons who come out at night in my backyard and one is so used to me, he comes up and knocks on the back door and standing on his back feet reaches up with his front paws requesting a snack. He likes apples, berries, nuts, bread, cereal, cat food, cat kibble, pasta and anything else I might be having for dinner. J So cute this little guy. When I saw this title I had to pick it up and read it to find out more about my little buddy. I thought raccoons were only found in the area because it had at one time been farm land and had been divied up and sold for folks to build homes on the properties, but, according to Ms. Thomas’ book, raccoons are becoming quite common in urban areas. She includes photos of raccons in dumpsters and walking down city streets and scavaging from trash cans. So, with the advent of more people and less woodland animals formerly seen in the country outdoors are moving into city environments and adapting to living amongst humans since raccoons (possums, rabbits, crows, geese, etc.) have learned that houses and backyards are full of things to eat and places to hide. Raccoons are fast runners and Ms. Thomas says they are so fast they could keep up with someone on a bicycle if they so chose, though unless that person is holding food or dropping popcorn or chips behind them, I doubt they would bother. Raccoons have excellent climbing skills and their little almost hand-like paws give them the dexterity to even be able to turn on faucets. I know I get a kick out of watching my little friend lean up against a short table I have in the yard that I sometimes set cat kibble on for my cat that likes to be up high when she eats. The raccoon will lean up against the table like a guy at a club and reach over and get a handful of kibble like he is at a bar eating peanuts. Cracks me up. Ms. Thomas says raccoons use up to 20 dens. Man! They must have digs all over town! In cities, she says they build dens in chimneys, drains and in dark holes under woodpiles, houses and sheds. My pal used to live up in the tree next door or at least he would shinny down the tree trunk, jump to the garage roof then come down the drain pipe into the yard. J Raccoons are nocturnal so they rest during the day and come out at night. The book talks about raccoons liking to eat fruits, nuts and grains so I guess I am keeping my buddy with the proper diet since those are the types of things I’ve shared with him so far. He likes sandwiches too, not much on mustard or pickles. He washes everything so I have two bowls of water in the yard, one to drink out of and one to wash his munchies in. J Ms. Thomas says that raccoons hunt small animals such as rabbits, crabs, insects and mice. I never realized that. I knew he ate meat cause I share bologna, turkey or ham with him from time to time and he eats the left over cat food if the possum doesn’t beat him to it but, I never thought about them being predators of mice and rabbits. Interesting. I had no clue. Ms. Thomas says raccoons can eat almost anything so cities work for them. She says they will even dig in compost piles – yuck! Sad for the fish, but, funny mental picture – she said raccoons will also fish in garden ponds. I remember the pond my neighbor had in their backyard and how I saw a kitten just memerized watching them one day. He didn’t do anything but watch them till a blowing leaf turned his interest away. Ms Thomas says that most city raccoons are killed by cars before they are two or three years old. I think that is the rough statistic for stray animals period that live in the city. She says some people trap or kill raccoons because they don’t like them and want to stop them from causing damage. I was surprised to learn that most raccoons live alone and might share a den temporarily in the Spring when they mate – then again – they might not share a den even then. Hmmmm, guess male raccoons are players and non-committal. Females find safe places to build their nests away from the males and two months after mating can have up to seven kits (babies). That is a lot of raccoons. The survival rate must be way low or seems like we would be seeing a lot more raccoons out at night. The mother raccoon teaches the kids how to survive- how to build their dens, how to find food, and how to stay away from people. The babies stay with their mothers up to a year then they are ready to head out on their own. Ms. Thomas goes into the different sounds raccoons make and there are several different ones. I know the one that knocks on the doors purrs just like a cat. She discusses how to spot if a raccoon is in your neighborhood, what their footprints look like, etc. Very good book. I enjoyed it.