Random Wildlife Encounters

April 11, 2009

I’ve just had a bit of a fright. After making sure the kids were sleeping, I went out to the garage to retrieve the Easter goodies (we don’t hide things in the house, a lesson we learned one pre-Christmas day here when my daughter asked “Why are there a whole bunch of Littlest Pet Shops in your closet, and can I have them?”)

I noticed the door had blown open in the wind, which happens when I don’t lock it, but I thought nothing of it as I flicked the light switch. But as I was reaching up onto a high shelf to grab the bag of candy, I heard a sound from the darker depths of the garage. Looking, I saw nothing. But then, a moment later, a pair of eyes twinkled at me from the darkest corner, where I keep the snowblower.

“Whoah!” I cried, stumbling backwards. The candy bag hit the cement floor. Have I mentioned before how skittish I can be? Anyway, a moment later I saw a second set of eyes shining in the light from the ceiling bulb.

I whirled. “Get outta here!” I cried. Nothing happened. I grabbed the nearest object, which turned out to be a broken plastic street-hockey stick, and banged it against the wall. “Go on! Get!” Nothing.

After a moment, two small raccoons sauntered out of the shadows and ambled past me towards the door. One of them gave me a sidelong glance as they padded along, as if to say “You know we’ll just wait out there and come back, right, asshole?” Meanwhile, I was thinking about that accidental eunuch, Russian Alexander Kirilov.

They vanished into the night. I grabbed what I needed and came inside; this all happened just minutes ago.

These may be the same two raccoons I surprised our first night in this house, when they were digging through the trashbins. We moved the garbage and recyclables into the garage the next day. I have found evidence of other visits; on other nights when I’ve forgotten to lock up, I’ve noticed a trashcan knocked over, and wondered if it was the wind. Probably not.

Raccoons are cute and all, but they’re just so brazen — they know their role, their work as sneak thieves, and they know they’re unlikely to be shot over kitchen scraps. They’re like crows and seagulls; the smartest animals learned a long time ago to embrace urbanity, not hide from it.

Stupider animals, like the turkeys who showed up earlier today, run when they see humans. But then again, I’ve never served raccoon at Thanksgiving. So there’s that.



  1. Once, years ago, some friends and I went camping. One of the guys brought an air rifle in case of any unwanted animal encounters. Sure enough, as the light faded the raccoons began their assault. We were all pretty hammered by this time, so the BB gun was not much of a threat, but they seemed to respect it nonetheless…or so we thought. After a brief respite in which we thought ourselves the victors there came a very loud rustling in the leaves, and our flashlights revealed three of the beasties attempting another frontal assault. Whilst the rest of the guys commenced to yell, shoot, and try many other drunken methods to drive off the invaders something made me swing my light to the other side of the camp. Sure enough, two of the furry thieves were using the diversion to stealthily get within a few feet of our cooler. Clever little f*@kers, them.

  2. They’ve been known to turn doorknobs and station lookouts ’round these parts. When I told the kids about our visitors this morning, I embellished a bit until it became the story of how a bunch of us, late at night, had to fend off an invading raccoon army, led by a six-foot raccoon in a uniform, General Bandito. There may have been excess chocolate involved in the telling of that tale.

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