ADVENTURES WITH "MI GUSTO" &
night was warm; a perfect night to enjoy an open bedroom window
and gaze at the star studded sky twinkling through the leaves
of the surrounding
drifted off to sleep, but was startled awake by the distinct
sound of what sounded like someone rummaging
through my jewelry box
that was sitting on the vanity, under my bedroom window.
The commotion of my suddenly turning over in bed and sitting up
did not deter the intruder. My greeting, “Well good evening,
Senor Mi Gusto!” did nothing more than make Mi Gusto withdraw
his paw out of my jewelry box and curiously gaze at me as I
reached for the camera sitting on the table beside my
Raccoons! What wonderful little
creatures! What fun! So cute! Oh so
intelligent! We are so fortunate to live in a wooded area
where we’ve been able to make friends with our ‘wild’ little
rascals. Feeding wild raccoons in one’s backyard can be a
highly rewarding experience indeed. For those of you who
are unfamiliar with raccoons, let me take a moment and tell you
a little about these nocturnal animals.
raccoon is often recognized by its black mask and tail covered
by white rings. The name "raccoon" come from the Indian
word "arakum" which means" he scratches with his hands."
Adult raccoons may be up to 3 feet long and weigh up to 30
pounds, although some male raccoons can weigh up to 40
pounds! Raccoons have a whitish gray coat, sometimes
yellowish with black patches of fur.
fur is long and dense, a grizzled brown and black color that
has often been described as "salt and pepper." The tail can
grow to be fifteen inches. A tail can have five to seven
black rings on it. Raccoons look like they are wearing a
bandits mask on their face. Although, raccoons are flesh eaters
and have long canine teeth, their molar teeth are adapted for a
varied diet which includes more than just meat. They have
sharp claws so they can climb trees and open shell fish such as
clams and oysters. Raccoons are also nocturnal
animals. The raccoon's closest relatives are ringtails
and coatis from the Southwest.
personally, can watch raccoons for hours on end and never tire
of their antics. But feeding any wild animal is something
one should take care to do properly, to avoid nasty situations
later on. Here are some helpful tips to get you
started in the wonderful world of backyard wildlife
appreciation. Remember, these are only guidlines -- a lot of
people don't follow them, and a lot of people have different
techniques. I present these only as a
"getting-started" guide for people who might be interested in
attracting and feeding wild
raccoons will eat just about anything.
Although this statement
is generally true, raccoons do have definite preferences.
Generally speaking, they like peanuts, sweets, fruits, bread,
peanut butter, and especially cat and dog food. Like
feeding humans, though, don't give them a lot of treats.
Give them healthy food. We buy, in bulk, the least
expensive, large chunked dry dog food. We buy the large
chunks because we love to watch them hold the pieces in their
sweet little hands, turning it over, from one side to the other
as they feast with great delight. As our picture shows,
though we, ourselves, are “guilty,” I’d discourage anyone from
feeding raccoons by hand.
raccoon may bite you quite accidentally, mistaking your finger
for food. Or you just might get bitten on purpose,
especially if it is believed that you are taking food
raccoon has a “dry” nose, STAY FAR FROM IT. A “dry”
nose is a sure sign of a sick raccoon! Note the
“shiny” nose of the raccoon in this picture. That’s
a good sign!
matter what the reason is, once bitten, you're both in
trouble. You'll have to be tested for rabies, and the
local health authorities will want to capture the raccoon that
bit you to test for rabies. And what are the chances of
them finding the one that actually bit you? That is
unless you know the individual distinguished marks of “your”
raccoons well enough to tell them apart. And how is a
raccoon tested for rabies? First of all, the
raccoon’s head will be cut off! Also, you will have
to go through rabies treatment. So, it’s not a good
thing for either you or your little friend. Be safe
rather than sorry; just don’t feed raccoons by
Don't let the raccoons get used to your
handouts. This tip is hardest to live by because you'll
soon find you love the company of your little night
visitors. Initially, our “babies” came at night,
however, they soon became so tame they’d peer in our windows
long before dark.
Also, you shouldn't feed them “every” night.
For their sake, and yours, you should try to stagger the nights
you leave food out, so they're never sure when there will be
food and when there won't. Raccoons are incredibly
good problem solvers, so try not to make feeding place and time
a pattern. Thus, when you're away on vacation, they
won't tear into your house to find out why you forgot to leave
food out for them. Like our little friends did, as
shown in these pictures.
Don't associate your house proper with the
food you leave out. When you put out food, it's
tempting to put it out on your doorstop or veranda.
A lot of people do this, and in most cases that's
fine. But some raccoons are more adventurous than
others. If you're not careful, they may come
to recognize your house as the source of their
food. If you move out or go on vacation, the
frustrated raccoons may very well invite themselves inside to
look for food. As you can see in these pictures,
they leave no stone . . . or paper out of your computer table
unturned. They even went into our tool room and
pulled nearly all of our construction tools off the shelves,
looking for food. It's just safer and “wiser” to
put food a bit of distance away from your
you have several raccoons around, I’d advise you to put out
several plates of food to avoid territorial squabbles and
fights. However, generally speaking, raccoons are quite
happy to share with each other (and other animals) if there
enough to go around.
everyone is lucky enough to live in a rural setting deep in the
woods as we do. So if you live close to neighbors,
be certain that you will be attracting raccoons to the area of
your neighbors' yards too. Remembering that
everyone might not love wildlife as much as you do, it would be
deeply considerate to ask your neighbors if they mind having
these delightful little creatures around. If your
neighbors have tightly sealed garbage cans and they do not
leave food out there should be no problems.
“you” have a raccoon story, or pictures, that you’d like to
share? To send them to us: firstname.lastname@example.org