March 11, 2009

Miss Ringy Raccoon and Me

As a very small girl, I loved to have my parents read to me from the now out-of-print book Little Brown Bear Goes To School. A very simplistic story about animals going on a picnic, the book featured Miss Ringy Raccoon as the prim and proper schoolteacher. Despite loving this book, I don't love animals big or small, and tend to run the other direction when faced with an animal encounter.

Two years ago Mother’s Day, Husband woke me up to say. “Honey, there’s more than one mother on the property today.” At the kitchen window, we saw Mother Groundhog, Father Groundhog, and four little Baby Groundhogs. (Apparently Mrs. Groundhog is the varmint version of “Octomom” because groundhogs don’t usually have quadruplets, but are more prone to twins. History was made beneath our yard barn.)

We called in a company that specializes in critter removal, and one by one, trap by trap, the groundhog family was moved to a “Groundhog Witness Protection program” in Kentucky. Animals have to be removed far from home or they will come back.

I had issues about separating the Baby Groundhogs from Mama, but the critter company swore they would all be kept together. (And he has a big bridge in Brooklyn to sell me also. In my imagination, I pictured the critter truck driving three houses down and letting all 6 critters out, but that’s just my suspicious nature.)

Friday we returned home from our mini-vacation and about 9 p.m. during Antiques Roadshow, I heard loud noises above Husband’s Closet in the master bedroom. Then the scurrying moved. Fast and furious and loud. Around the house above Son’s bedroom, my office, main bathroom. Again Saturday night and Sunday night. Same time. Same station. Same raccoon channel.

For three evenings I have been held hostage on that end of the house, broom in hand, to tap on the ceiling wherever the offending beast makes his presense known. Husband told me to stop banging on the ceiling for fear of putting holes in it, so in following the letter of the law, I simply began banging on the walls. (Scared the hell out of the cats.)

Why do things like this have to happen after 5 p.m. on Friday? Thank you, Mr. Murphy and your stupid, predictable law.

With the help of a friend who is a home inspector I secured a varmint catcher who came on Tuesday afternoon.

Said varmint catcher went up into the attic and came down soon with the verdict that there was at least one varmint, most likely a raccoon, spending his/her evenings with us. The debris left indicated that it had merely been a short visit.

The Varmint Roper found two holes in the soffit on either end of the house and will repair them after Said Varmint is captured. Then he set a trap (with cat food as bait) on the roof of the house near one of the holes.

He educated us about raccoons – this is their mating season – if he catches a female, he will re-bait the trap, because he said where there’s a female, there will be a male. (Ever the love story.) Baby raccoons don’t generally arrive for another month, so if the Beast is a she, she’s probably just scouting a new home. The Varmint Roper also said raccoons have a four to five mile range, so she may have several “hotels” she travels between.

(During the writing of his article I asked husband how to spell “varmint” and I happened to mention that I hoped I would be able to take a picture of the creature trapped in his cage. He said, “That would be good. Then you can at least document that you aren’t just a crazy middle-aged woman who thinks she has animals in her attic.”)

So now we wait. The trap is on the roof and we are vigilant and waiting. A night has passed and all was quiet on the attic front. My broom stands in the corner near the bed. Has the varmint moved on to another location? Did the smell of the human up in the attic drive her away? Is she on spring break in Daytona? Stay tuned. Quoth the raven.