Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Great Raccoon Saga

A couple of days ago, my neighbor, whose house is connected to ours came over and told me that he thought there were squirrels in our attic. He pointed to a small hole in the siding and to a pile of insulation that he had swept up on his porch. He said that they had some bait for squirrels that made them kind of crazy and would make them leave; then he would board up the hole for me.

When I got home that evening, the hole was boarded up, but that night, I still heard scratching, as if the squirrels were still inside. I then started worrying that the squirrel(s) were trapped in the attic and would die of starvation. But then, a couple of mornings later, I noticed that the cats were really skittish.  I went downstairs and found that all of the metal covers on the heater vents had been pulled up (4 different heater vents), my office area was ransacked, and the kitchen was messed up. The cat food was all gone.

I figured a burglar wouldn't bother with heater vents, but I couldn't figure out how (or why) a squirrel would pry up heater vents. So I looked around and spotted a bushy tail behind one of the chairs in the living room. I thought it might be Hobbes, my Maine Coon, until I noticed that Hobbes was right next to me. Hobbes is really big, but this raccoon was even bigger.

After panicking a bit, I tried calling Animal Control, and they said they would come right out, until they found out that the raccoon was INSIDE the house - they evidently don't deal with animals inside the house. So I called a company called Critter Control, but they wanted $199 just to come to the house.

That seemed like too much to me, so I took the car out of the garage, and coaxed Calvin (my other cat) downstairs and put both cats in the garage. I left one door open and put a trail of cat food leading to the door. Then I went to school (my one day a week job).

When I got home, my neighbor was outside, so I told him that he had been wrong - it wasn't squirrels, it was a big raccoon. He came in and we tried to find the raccoon. It was hiding under the bed in the south bedroom. He stuck a broom under the bed and managed to scare the raccoon out, and it ran downstairs. It avoided all of the open doors, however, and instead headed for the kitchen. When we tried to herd it toward a door, it slipped by us and ran back upstairs. This time, after we found it (in the middle bedroom), we closed all of the other doors and herded it downstairs, but again it avoided all of the open doors and hid in the bathroom.

I blockaded the way upstairs, but again, it squeezed by and ran upstairs. This time, though, there was no place to hide, so when we chased it downstairs again, it hid behind the chair again. Finally, with nowhere else to go, it went out the open door, climbed over the fence, and left.

The only problem is that I don't know if it was male or female. If it was a female, there could be babies in the attic. So we went to look to see if we could get up in the attic. But my neighbor had to leave, so I still haven't gotten up in the attic to check. But, next to the attic access is an air conditioning air return vent, with several bent metal slats. I am guessing that that is how the raccoon got out of the attic.

And now, the thing that amazes me is that I managed to sleep through all of this destruction the night before.

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