Saturday, March 9, 2019

The House Guests

Well, shoot, something must've been in the air, because yesterday we got our first ants AND our first raccoons of the year. The ants were rolling around snickering on the roof and the raccoons were marching in a purposeful little line from the back door. Or maybe it was the other way around.

I don't have a big quarrel with the raccoons. We can even go a few years without seeing any, although I suspect they're around even then. It's remarkable how elusive they manage to be whilst being so substantial. If a really large cat swallowed a basketball and it got hung up just at the rectum, it would look like a raccoon. Cats can't swallow basketballs, of course. You're thinking of Labrador Retrievers.

Dave did have a big quarrel with the raccoons once. He was peeing behind the tool shed, as one does, with his business well in hand, and turned to find a committee of raccoons watching him, and wondering if he had anything he wanted to share with the class. He did not. It was a bit of a standoff and obviously he negotiated an exit, but you know there had to be that moment in which he was reviewing just how much of a threat a raccoon is. They never seem to come after you directly, and you've never heard of anyone with personal raccoon damage, but there's something deeply untrustworthy about them. They just don't fear us enough. If I had my hand on a private portion of myself I was particularly fond of, I'd be alarmed.

I do keep a compost pile, and have yet to observe anything untoward rooting around in it, but that's probably because it's guarded by attack scrub jays. You'd have to be a complete idiot to take on a scrub jay, because they'll stab you in the head as soon as look at you. So I don't know where these large mammals are hanging out when they're not doing the moonlight dance on our roof. I do see their poop. It could be opossum poop, but raccoons are said to use latrines, and this poop tends to be all bunched up in the same place, under our grape arbor. If you spend any time online looking up raccoon poop, and who hasn't, you will find yourself strongly advised to remove your raccoon poop latrine, so as to avoid getting raccoon roundworms. I'm not real worried about that. You get raccoon roundworms, it says here, by ingesting raccoon poop, and that wasn't anything I was planning to do. You're thinking of Labrador Retrievers.

I'm doing the regular thing with the ants. I give them a couple squirts of ant poison in a sweet gel and they scarf it up and take it to their nests, in the form of themselves, and then drop dead, are briefly mourned by their colleagues and are, themselves, eaten. It seems disrespectful but it's tidy and efficient, I suppose. I should probably feel bad about my treatment of native fauna but I understand that there is no ant shortage.  In fact, there are more ants than there are anything else. Besides, they eat their dead. Who does that?

Labrador Retrievers, probably. They'll eat anything. Or they'd at least roll in it. Which is fine, as long as they don't do it on my roof.

39 comments:

  1. Of course they seem "deeply untrustworthy"; they wear a mask all the time! Who does that when they aren't up to something? No, not Golden Retrievers.

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    1. Also, they rub their hands together like villains.

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  2. I had to look up raccoons to see if they are canines, felines, or ursines. None of the above. They have their own classification: Procyons. Also a penis bone 4" long.

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    1. I hope you looked that up in your trusted scienterrific source, Murrmurrs.

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  3. If you want the raccoon latrine to leave the grape arbor, replace the poop with a couple of moth balls, it worked for us.

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  4. They are smart and strong and possibly up to no good, but they are cute! Remember when the fashion was to wear one on your head like Daniel Boone?

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    1. I do remember little boys with animals on their heads, yes.

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    2. Jerry was one of those as a kid. I have the photo to prove it!

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    3. Sen. (Ayn) Rand Paul still wears a raccoon on his head to this day.

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    4. No wonder his neighbor whacked him.

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  5. A neighbor once called us to tell us that there was a raccoon standing on its hind legs on the peak of the roof of our house----like a sentry. Wish I had seen him.

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    1. Hand him a set of weathervane directions and let him hold them up.

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  6. I wonder why raccoons evolved to have those perfect masks? What possible evolutionary advantage did they provide? It makes them as cute as all get out, especially along with those human-like hands, but why the markings, I wonder?

    My cousin rescued a baby raccoon many years ago and I had the honour of seeing that guy up close when I visited. I don't advise keeping them as pets but it wasn't my call; meanwhile I enjoyed the heck out of him. He kept taking my shiny stuff away. His paws were tiny and cool-feeling and very adept. I wouldn't cross a wild one for love nor money, though.

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    1. One theory holds the mask is there for the same reason football players use black goo on their cheekbones: to cut down glare. You know, all that moonlight.

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  7. They certainly are untrustworthy and downright sneaky!! But hey -- don't besmirch the good name of Labrador Retrievers! Some of my best friends are Labs. Perhaps you just haven't met the right one yet.....

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    1. No besmirching. I made no value judgment. It was merely an observation!

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  8. I was kayaking on our pond once, and saw fur coming out of the seams and corners of a Wood Duck house on a pole out in the water. It was one of those basketball-swallerin’-sized rascals that had been feasting on duck eggs and needed a nap. Wood Ducks are precious and protected. The houses are huge. Give me a Golden Retriever any day.

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    1. Only way to get there, unless he hopped a passing swan. Swans ain’t hoppable.

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    2. Now suddenly I'm whistling "Hop a passing swan and put it in your pocket..."

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  9. Ants really won’t cross a line of cinnamon. Really.

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    1. They will, however, cross picket lines.

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    2. I have seen profusions of ants crossing the hell out of a line of cinnamon, myself.

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  10. Raccoons are very fond of ants. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NZ1FO5UegJs

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  11. We know we're coming into Rugby season when we hear possums (Australians marsupials, not those cute tick-eating opossums you have over there) holding training runs on the roof.In sprigged boots, yet. Well, that's how it sounds.
    Haven't noticed them helpfully scoffing ants though...

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    1. "Sprigged." "Scoffing." You're doing it again.

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  12. Labrador retrievers are wonderful dogs, easily trained, yet no one seems to be able to train them not to eat everything in sight. We have possums here at the moment, scrabbling around on the roof at night, with a large male doing his huffing and grunting, perhaps that's the mating call or maybe he's just lifting weights, who knows? But it's very annoying to go out to water the garden and find it is already watered with very stinky possum pee.

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    1. We have both raccoons and opossums but I do not know where they're bedding down. I mean, it shouldn't be that subtle.

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  13. I hate these mofos. They apparently wiped out my pond fish last night. I had ten fish yesterday. Today I have one. Only a raccoon would have taken them at night. Cats don't like to get wet. We have too many trees for herons or egrets. All I see is one fish huddled under a rock and a bunch of scales. I am so fucking mad right now!

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    1. That's how I feel about scrub jays since the Nuthatch Incident. It's hard not to take it personally.

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  14. We had a racoon that kept trolling around on our deck last May and we caught it in a trap and moved it. It seemed like it was off bc it was making daytime appearances. Um, the next day I heard what I thought was birds when I went out on our deck. Turns out that coon was not crazy. She was a mama. We rescued her 4 babies. 6 weeks old and brought them to a site that would care for them. It was CRAZY!

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  15. Delhi escorts snuck into Mumbai? As insidious as racoons, those Delhi. Noisy, too.

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