Simply 6 Minutes: Trash Pandas!

I’ve had several encounters with raccoons over the years. The first time was in Northern Wisconsin, when I was maybe 13 or 14. We would go with another family to stay at that family’s cabin in Eagle River so we could go fishing (well, they could go fishing; it wasn’t my favorite activity, so I’d keep myself occupied during the day). Some of us found a baby raccoon, which was first named Charlie, then Leo-guy. We’d go out first thing in the morning and Leo-guy was waiting for us. Our mothers warned us not to get too attached, because we were not bringing a raccoon home with us. We finally decided the raccoon had to go when he got hold of the fish that they had caught, and Leo-guy went back to living with his mother.

We grew up near Loyola University on the North Side of Chicago, and when I was in seventh grade there was a guy (evidently a student, but one couldn’t be sure in the late ’60’s) who walked around with a raccoon on his shoulders. The raccoon would walk back and forth on the guy’s shoulders.

When I was in high school, we went through a period when raccoons would knock our garbage cans over and drag the contents all over the place. Turns out that the couple next door, who were real nature lovers, had been feeding them in their back yard, but didn’t think to keep it up when they went on vacation. Thus there was no food and the little trash pandas were then scouring the neighborhood. We agreed that, whenever they were out of town, we would put some garbage out (which the lady thoughtfully provided) for them. Problem solved. When they moved out, the new owners called the critter catchers to relocate then (the raccoons, not the people).

We had several cats that regularly showed up on our back deck, and we would put food out for them. One in particular was a cat I named Mouthwash, because she had a slight green tinge (the color of Fresh Burst Listerine) to her when the sun would hit it right, and because she had a white spot next to her mouth, like someone had erased the tabby markings near it. One night, we looked out the back door and there was a raccoon eating at the bowl, and Mouthwash was just sitting patiently, waiting her turn. A couple of nights later, we looked out and saw that the raccoon (apparently a mama) had her four kits eating. It was one of those side-by-side double bowls, and they were situated such that we could see a head and a butt and a head and a butt. Mama was sitting off to one side, Mouthwash sat off to the other. Once Mama and the kits had their fill, we brought more food out for the cat.

Christine Bialczak runs Simply 6 Minutes.

18 thoughts on “Simply 6 Minutes: Trash Pandas!

  1. I love the wily raccoon. Many people think of them as pests but you just have to understand them and what to do to to make sure they can’t get into things. I used to watch Lorne Greene’s New Wilderness that was on in the early 80s. It would show animals that have adapted to city life and one episode was about the raccoon which was so great and made me love them even more.

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    1. We get raccoons, deer, opossums, and I think I heard someone say there was a coyote wandering around the neighborhood, not to mention hawks and vultures. They’ve all survived just fine…


  2. What a fun post, John! When we lived in Florida, our house backed up to a reserve. There was a family of raccoons and they were so cute until they got into our screen enclosure and made a mess. They are entertaining to watch but very mischievous!


  3. A few years ago, I witnessed a family of Racoons side by side with a family of Cats on the porch of a large trailer home. The porch light was on, and I was able to sit and watch them eat for some time. Racoons (and Gatos) are amazing animals!

    Excellent Post! 🙂


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