Thursday, March 4, 2010

This is the true story....

of 5 raccoons, picked, to live in a house ... work together and have their lives photographed... to find out what happens... when raccoons stop being polite... and start getting real...

The Real Raccoon World.


I'm not sure I ever really told the story of the raccoons. For the new readers that have come since my little bandit visitors 2 years ago, this will be an entirely new story for you!

When we bought this house, it was really a spur of the moment thing. We found out about it on a Saturday, and by Sunday we had a bid in on it. We weren't even house shopping at the time! Because of that, we had not really buckled down on saving for a down payment. Sure, we have some money, but because we bought a manufactured home, there's a whole new set of rules... like 15% down, and you have to pay all your closing costs up front.

We scrimped and saved every penny for the many months that it took for the process to happen, and we had enough for 1. Rent 2. 15% down payment 3. closing costs and 4. a new roof.

That's it.

Fortunately, I happened to find some money that I had stashed and forgotten about, so we had enough money for a stove. NO LIE. lol It was a stressful couple of months for us.

What does any of this have to do with raccoons? Well, it's an important part of the story. You see, the skirting around the house was trashed, and frankly we didn't know even what we wanted to replace it with. At one point I would have been happy with hot pink plywood, but instead, that first winter we settled on wrapping the foundation with plastic.

That's all that protected me from the wild.
Plastic wrap.

So around Easter time, I got Tanner a pair of mice for his "easter basket" (they make chocolate jelly beans!). I had read that they might stink, so I was prepared for some smells, and the smell came. And it got stronger, and stronger. Right in Tanner's room! There for a while, I was certain that the mice were going to have to be expatriated.

And then it happened. One evening, I see movement on the front deck (more about that deck later!), I get up, go to the window, and there it is. The biggest fattest mamma raccoon I've ever seen in my life. I run and get Gene, but she's gone by the time we get back.

We knew exactly what was going on at that point. Fat racoon was a mamma raccoon and she was looking for a more permanent solution to her housing problem, especially in her "delicate situation". At that point we knew that the smell wasn't a mouse (they are practically smell free for the record) but instead, it was a racoon under the house!!

Gene taught me how to load/shoot a pistol and it was kept by the front door, and I did see her one more time after that, but I didn't get to her fast enough. (gladly for the record, I didn't wanna kill anything).

The smell got to the point, where Tanner had to start sleeping in the other room, and we put towels to keep the smell in his room. If you've never smelled a racoon, you're missing out on a real tasty treat. It's something you'll be glad you never experienced!

I called the critter control guy, who happens to live just down the road, and he made a couple suggestions - which did not work. I drove to my mom's and bought a live trap - which did not work. I called the critter guy again - and he said she'd probably been trapped before, Oh, and by the way, sometimes he releases critters out here that have been caught elsewhere.

Now over the next few days I try other things I find on the net, like making her life a living hell. Running a radio in a vent 24/7. Throwing a ton of mothballs under the house. Banging on the floors. All I get in return, is hissing. She is hunkered down now, and she's not leaving.

I forgot to mention that under most manufactured homes, there's a liner, on top of that liner is insulation which is soft and fluffy and makes for a nice nest. Somehow, "someone" made an entry point, and well, someone entered.

Finally we could not take it any longer! Gene put on a pair of cover alls, some gloves, and took a knife with him. He was prepared to be faced with a hot, rabid, pissed off mamma raccoon. Crawling under the house, he tells me to be prepared for him to come flying out from under there.

What happens next is kinda cute.

One by one, tiny little raccoons come flying out from under my house. I'm gonna confess, they are terribly cute. They also make really cute noises, except for that one. He was loud and irritating and would never shut UP.


The original plan with this, was that we'd steal the babies and in return, mamma would follow suit. We took the live trap, and a tub, put one baby in the back and left it out there for an hour at a time in the back of the trap.

But she never came.

And I started to get worried about the babies.

What would they eat?


So then I became a raccoon mamma too.


Soon I was feeding babies every couple hours, and the first night, up checking on them to make sure they were ok. This was NOT going like I'd planned. Catching mamma was not going to happen, and now I had 4 raccoons in my charge.


I started researching the internet again, trying to figure out what to do, and when I realized that they were soon not going to be doing well, I started crying. Gene asked me what was wrong, and I told him I was worried that they were going to die.

I'm a softie, what can I say?

So we ended up calling the game warden, and she came out and took all the babies to St. Joe where they had a surrogate momma that took in raccoon babies.

There's someone that is not only a saint, but clinicially insane.


Problem solved?

Not even close. The big old mamma raccoon was not only short 4 kids, she was pissed off about it! Really pissed off.

She didn't leave, and she wanted her chidrenz back. NOW.
At night, I could hear her under there, and she was trying to dig a hole in my FLOOR to get into the HOUSE!! I could hear large chunks of floor be ripped off, and the only thing I could do was to stomp on the floor. At one point, Gene even went under the house with a rifle, which for the record, is pretty dangerous, with still no luck.

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Finally, I read someplace that racoons HATE ammonia, and we concocted a plan. Gene slid under the house and slit holes in that liner, stuck a garden spayer full of ammonia in the holes and sprayed the full length of one side of the house. He was too tired at that point to do 2 sides.

(This is where the story gets interesting)

About 2 days later, Gene gets up and gets ready to go to work and comes running in to tell me we had a flood! During the night 5000 gallons of water went through my house! Most of it going down the vents, and FLOODED the liner! Those holes let a LOT of water go through.

In the end, that's how we finally got rid of her, and secretly, I still wonder if it wasn't her that was banging on the pipes, that caused the connection to come loose, that caused all that water.

*stupid beoytch*

So that started a whole new chain of events, that we still haven't finished. It's been 2 years and we're nearly recovered. We had to replace the liner, ended up with a foundation around the house, the deck had to be pulled off so that the foundation could go in, and we still don't have a replacement deck!

So in ways it ended up being a good thing. We've not had any more raccoons other than to visit our trash cans once in a while.


Something has been digging under the foundation. Yep. Voles. Vile little creatures, but at least I know how to fix it now. Oh, and something bigger. Yes, there's something big under there, and there will NOT BE A REPEAT. I'm not scared to shoot this time. LOL.


Your time, it is a coming, little critter.

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