There is no photograph.
You think I had enough wits about me to wield a camera?
Yipes! Some of you may know that we’ve suspected that a raccoon has been getting into the crawlspace under our house because we’ve been waked up by the gigantic sound of chewing in the middle of the night. Wildlife is lovely as long as it’s not try to destroy your home. Then the fight is on, baby!
Having had success with the Hav-a-Heart squirrel-sized traps–we relocated 26 squirrels this spring, one at a time–we bought this big honking raccoon sized model. We weren’t having any luck. The trap was sprung a couple of times but nothing was inside it.
This morning at about 3:45 I woke to the sound of Hydra calling me from the back door. He’d gotten up to use the euphemism, heard the lid to the crawl space being bumped around (in spite of the piece of cinder block on top of it) and went out to find we’d nabbed a small raccoon. I went out in my sandals and sleeping shirt and shorts with no glasses on, but I could see the second raccoon Hydra had his big flashlight trained on. It was up in the tree above the trap.
I went in and put on sneakers and glasses. Hydra pulled a shovel and a pitchfork out of the shed. Yes, I did flash on the mob scene in Frankenstein (1931). Believe me, we would have liked to have those guys behind us this morning.
Because after Hydra went into the house to get his keys, I saw another raccoon moving forward from beneath the bench swing. And another. And then a really big one, probably the Mama, passed through my measly beam of light. She positioned herself about 3 feet on the other side of the trap and stood up on her back legs and I was thinking, “Oh crap, how long would it take her to get over here and climb up my leg?”
Let me tell you, I was in full adrenaline mode! Raccoons are undeniably handsome creatures, but they have famous teeth and claws, and you don’t safely get between a mama and her baby in any language.
Hydra thinks maybe they figured out how to release the trap, with all those little hands working on it before. The one that we’d seen in the tree went down to the ground, but as Hydra went in to pick up the trap, I held a shovel over his head. I had this vision of a raccoon dropping out of the tree onto the back of his neck.
Those critters were hissing and chittering, lifting their front feet off the ground so their little eyes flashed. For a very good reproduction of the sound, go to this link and click on Mad Raccoon. (If we hear Very Mad Raccoon, I might just need some counseling afterward.) As Hydra bent over the trap, putting a stick through the bars to further secure the door and picking it up, they were moving in the background. Yelling and moving toward them didn’t do anything to back them off. I clanged my shovel on the ground and they ran up the slope, rustling through the vinca.
I watched Hydra’s back as we moved toward the driveway to put the caged young raccoon into the back of the Echo. We were trying to get the big cage into the trunk when we heard a skittering sound. We could see the silhouette of the big raccoon as she clung to the side of the pine tree in the front yard, watching us. I’d misplaced the garbage bag we were going to put down under the cage, so I pulled the sun visor off the windshield and tossed it on the back seat, and we put our little passenger in. (A good thing, as she left us a calling card.)
It was creepy beyond belief, driving through the dark with this hissing little creature in the back seat banging against the cage door. I turned on the overhead light and turned around and she defiantly bit the cage wire and stared me down. We found a dark side road on the Angeles National Forest side of town and released her.
The early morning sky was punctured with thousands of crisp stars, but as we drove back home I was wondering just how smart these critters are. Would they be waiting for us in the trees or on the roof? I’ve never been creeped out at the thought of returning to our house before, ever.
As it turned out, none of them were around. Hopefully, they’re not sleeping under the house right now. Hydra reset the trap, but we agree it should not go back under the tree.
Thank goodness the raccoons were just that much more afraid of me than I was of them. Because believe me, this is the most afraid I’ve been in a long long time. I’ve done a lot of reading and writing about frontier Indiana and I have new respect for those people who huddled in the vast swampy dark of Noble County back in the days when raccoons were the least of the wildlife worries.
Wish us luck in relocating the rest of the 4-5 remaining interlopers!