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7/21/09
Still Wishing it Was Mario in the Attic

There's been some excitement in the House of Quirk lately. The other night, just as Tony and I were settling in to bed for the evening, (well, Tony was settling in...I was preparing to marathon my way through the eight episodes of Storm Chasers residing on the DVR), we heard the unmistakable clomping sound from what was either an authentic Dutch Clogging Festival or a tryout for America's Top Dance Crew coming from above our heads. Tony's eyes lit up. Ever since our exciting adventures with Trapper Dan vs the Raccoon That Came To Live in Our Attic, I think he's been secretly hoping that another will come stay with us. (A raccoon, I mean, not Trapper Dan...he still owes me for the flower pot he broke). So while I stood in the hall and prayed that it was just Mario Lopez up there, scouting for talent behind our Christmas decorations, Tony took a flashlight and crawled into the attic to see what all the fuss was about.

A few minutes after Tony's top half disappeared into the attic and his bottom half stayed rooted to the ladder in the hallway, a disembodied voice floated down to me. "Ah. Yep. Yep. There he is. I see him. We officially have another raccoon!" My response was, "Oh crap". Tony's response was "Oh cool!"

See, you have to understand something about Tony. He was a zookeeper. He still is at heart. All animals great and small, my dear Tony loves them all. Whereas I'm like, "Oh joy. Another giant rabid rodent.", I think the world seen through Tony-vision consists of cuddly, big-eyed animals that resemble those found in the animated movie Bambie. Raccoons are no exception.

"I'll go get a trap", I sighed. Don't get me wrong. I like animals. I just think that they should live out there. In nature. Away from me. It's for my own good. Luckily, Tony agrees with me, only he thinks that animals should live out there, in nature, for their own good. He has the raccoon's best interest at heart. I'm thinking of how bad raccoon poop will make our boxes of out-of-season clothes smell.

So we start trapping. It turns out that you can buy those Haveahart live animal traps at Home Depot, so we picked one up and stuck it in the attic to see who was smarter, man or beast. "Man" tried sweetening the deal with dry cat food, then wet cat food, then two ears of corn that I specifically purchased for my own dinner. "Beast" was having none of it. "Woman's" role in all this was to climb up on the roof and repair the spot where "beast" was getting in once beast was caught. (Until that time, "Woman" spent most of her time getting back to her interrupted Storm Chasers documentaries).

Days go by. Tony has taken to climbing into the attic and checking the trap four or five times a day, which I'm sure makes the raccoon wonder what kind of nosy neighbors he's inadvertently settled in with. Then, one day while I'm walking down the hall, completely nonplussed with the sight of Tony's legs dangling from the hole in the ceiling, I hear him say, "Uh-oh".

"What?", I yell up to him.
"Babies", he yells back.
"WHAT?!?", I yell louder.

Apparently, our attic invader is a Momma Raccoon, and she has just dropped at least one baby raccoon into the comfy nest of insulation that she's managed to pull together. I said, "Oh double-crap-crap-crappity-crap!" Tony said, "Awwww, isn't he cute?"

(Just as a note, apparently baby raccoons are little hairless brown blobs. They look a lot like bald moles if you ask me. I'm sure that once the fur grows in, they become more cuddly and raccoon-like, but at the moment, cute was not the word that immediately sprang to mind for me.)

We debated the pros and cons of getting an official licensed trapper, and if we should call East Tennessee Wildlife Services, who apparently adopt orphaned raccoon babies, and researched how old a baby raccoon needed to be in order to survive on his own, outside an attic. Tony, whose maternal instinct puts mine to shame, was beside himself.

I wish I could tell you that this story has a happy ending and that the baby raccoon grew up and became Tony's constant companion, riding around on his shoulder and answering to the name "Chippy", but sadly, it was not to be. The mother raccoon, shortly after dumping Junior, took off for greener pastures and/or less populated attics and was never to be seen again. Alas, Junior was not long for this world without her. Tony was crushed.

It probably would have been easier if I had gone up to get Junior's remains since I didn't have the emotional zookeeper to ugly rodent bond that apparently Tony had, but he wouldn't hear of it. He thought that having to deal with a dead baby animal anything would make me sad, so he took care of it himself. That's just the kind of guy he is. Big-hearted to all creatures, even me. I suppose the good news in all of this is that the mother, who is required by law to be euthanized if caught, made it away safe and sound, and is still free to break into someone else's attic whenever she chooses. Plus, I was able to get up on the roof and fix the spot where she got in in the first place, so hopefully our quota of attic squatters has been officially capped.

I hope the Momma Raccoon sticks around for Tony's sake. Sometimes, when I'm sitting out on the porch at night, I'll see them running through the trees in the backyard. It'd be nice to show Tony that even though we couldn't save the baby, the momma is still out there, climbing trees, dumping the food out of my bird feeders, and generally doing whatever it is that raccoons do.

Just as long as she isn't doing it in my attic, I think we'll all be happy.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

They euthanize captured racoons?

Quirky said...

They do in Tennessee. Actually, I think most states do (check your own state laws if you aren't sure). It's to control the spread of rabies. All trappers (in Tennessee at least) are required to euthanize raccoons when they catch them. (That's another reason that we decided to try to trap it ourselves first...you're supposed to report the raccoon to the authorities when you catch one, but knowing Tony, the cage door would have probably "accidentally" come open as soon as we carried the trap outside).

There are a few organizations that will adopt orphaned baby animals and keep them until they can be released into the wild. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency can tell you who they are. But chances are if you have an adult raccoon, they're going to euthanize it.

Reluctant Housewife said...

Oh wow! That's a close encounter, for sure.