Aroughcum or Rocky?


One weekend afternoon. my wife announced that she heard something “scratching and bumping” beneath the floor of our screened-in porch.

I figured a critter of some kind had taken a liking to that out-of-the-weather location so I set up my “catch and release” cage trap in the backyard.

Not knowing exactly what I might be needing to lure, I put some moist cat food, a few crunched up pork rinds and a few red grapes in a small can and set the trap.

The next morning, when I checked the trap, the food was gone but the trap hadn’t been sprung.

Right away, I suspected either a cat or a raccoon.

So I baited the cage  dish again and pushed in further back in the cage.

The next morning, not only was the bait gone, but so was the tin can and the cage trap door had not been sprung.

Now I knew I was dealing with a crafty raccoon.

So, the cage trap was baited with a lower cut can and placed very close to the trigger and filled with more goodies.

The next morning, no sprung trap and another missing bait dish.

This is a crafty coon I’m dealing with.

So now, it’s become a man versus critter issue and I am determined to snare this creature.

Two holes were drilled in the side of a cat food can and the container was wired to the bottom of the cage and loaded with more yummy cat food, some grapes, a little cheese, some ham and a few pork rinds.

The next morning, I had prevailed.

There was a medium-sized raccoon in the cage, which, by the way, the animal had flipped over on it’s top after the trap door closed.

Before making arrangements to have this animal relocated, I had to tip my hat.

These “coons” are pretty clever creatures.

Raccoons, or racoons, the common raccoon or coons are members of the procyonid family with the scientific name of “procyon lotor” which literally translates to “before dog-washer”.

The Powhatan word for raccoons is “aroughcun” or “animal that scratches with its’ hands.”

That’s a great, descriptive name.

The hands of a raccoon look like those of a little, old man.

Folks mistakenly think raccoons like to “wash” their food but what they’re actually doing is “dousing”.

When their paws get wet, it stimulates the nerve-endings since they rely on their  sense of touch to locate goodies.

These five-fingered omnivores can open shells, doors or trash cans.

In the wild, they’ll dine on insects, eggs, small mammals, fruit, berries, seeds or garbage.

They also like peanut butter, dog food and bread.

I’m reminded of that great Geico commercial with the raccoons going through some trash bags and one says, “This tastes like, mango, chutney and burned hair” and later laments that he can’t get the bad taste out of his mouth.

Raccoons normally get to be 18-28 inches long and can weigh from 8-20 pounds.

However, “Bandit”, a pet coon, set the Guinness World Book record when he tipped the scales at 75 pounds!

It should come as no surprise that Bandit would often be seen at a local ice cream store.

They can scoot along at speeds as fast as 15 miles per hour and one has been observed falling over 100 feet and landing unharmed.

Raccoons have few natural predators.

We humans are one of the bigger threats to coons, especially the vehicles we drive.

In the wild they might live up to 5 years but in captivity, they’ve been known to live 20 years although we’e not supposed to attempt to make pets of them.

However, it should be noted that 1st Lady Grace Coolidge had a pet raccoon in the White House named “Rebecca”.

This pet had an engraved collar given as a Christmas gift and she even took part in the annual White House Easter egg roll.

I might also point out that wildlife in the Coolidge White House was quite the norm since the First Family kept a bobcat, a goose, a donkey, 2 lion cubs. an antelope and a wallaby.

What! No partridge in a pear tree?

There have been other well-known raccoons such as “Rocket”, voiced by Bradley Cooper in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie, “Roni”, the 1980 Lake Placid, New York Winter Olympics mascot, “Ty Coon” from the Deputy Dawg cartoons or “Rascal” in Walt Disney’s “Rascal”.

The Beatles also sang about “Rocky Raccoon” and his gal Lil Magill but everyone knew her as Nancy. The song told us Rocky was from the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota.

The Fab Four reportedly came up with this song while studying Transcendental Meditation.

I suspicion they might have been “studying” other “things” as well.

When we used to tent camp, one night we heard rummaging around in our camp kitchen.

I aimed a flashlight in that direction and saw 2 bright yellow-green eyes glowing in the dark.

A raccoon has lifted the lid on one of our coolers and was checking out our meals.

The glowing eyes are due to a membrane on them, the “tapetum lucidum” which means “bright carpet” and it helps them see at night when they are normally most-active.

There are some theories that the “black masks” these creatures have cuts down on glare and also assists their night vision.

Raccoons have a very high mammal IQ, just above a cat and slightly below that of a monkey.

They can hiss, purr, whistle or growl and actually make up to 50 different sounds.

Now,  ammonia can sometimes keep raccoons away but the one thing I found that works the best was to have dogs that roam the yard and leave their “scent” about.

So this raccoon has been dispatched from our yard.

When another one shows up, I’ll be ready with my cleverly-attached cat food can filled with tasty and tempting raccoon morsels.

Game on.

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