Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Raccoon Sighting in the Garden

In case you didn’t see Gardener Megan’s email, raccoons have been reported in the garden. Please look at this NYC Healthsheet for some helpful information.

If you see one, just leave it alone. As long as you don’t try to feed one like a Disney princess, you should be OK. People say they're aggressive, but from my own experience, raccoons aren’t usually roaming the streets, looking for trouble. But I wouldn’t really go out of my way to provoke one—they do have sharp teeth and claws. 

They’re mostly after garbage, so keep your garbage cans sealed, though they can remove lids with their paws. They’ll also eat pet food. Raccoons are also known for entering pet doors and raiding kitchens, but I don’t think people have pet doors here.

Once a rabid raccoon held my entire office in Columbus, Ohio, hostage as it swayed, looked woozy and generally seemed rabid while it stumbled around our parking lot right when it was time to go home for the day. Animal control eventually came to capture it, I think. (A squirrel also terrorized a suburb in 1996, but that’s another story.) If a raccoon looks rabid, then call 311.

Since raccoons can carry rabies and fleas, keep an eye on your pets and make sure they are up-to-date with their shots.

Three years ago, The New York Times likened a spike in raccoon reports to bed bugs, but that’s a little crazy. This CBS story from last year makes it seem as if raccoons are really ruining people’s lives, but I bet the raccoon mentioned in the story hissed at the woman quoted for this piece because she uses “impact” as a verb. (Even though it’s accepted now by grammarians, I will never accept it. Never. This raccoon was perhaps the reincarnation of my former grammar teacher at Ohio University.)

Be cautious and just have an eye out for raccoons when you’re in the garden—especially at night, because raccoons are nocturnal. Speaking of nocturnal creatures, there also have been opossum sightings in the neighborhood. Opossums will sometimes show their teeth if they feel threatened, but if they’re really terrified, they’ll play dead, so they really don’t want any trouble.