Raccoons are cute, funny, and smart, so everyone loves them, right? Wrong!
Some city dwellers consider these little ring-tailed mammals nothing but trouble.
In Foster City, California, people and raccoons don’t always get along. Thirty-five years ago this area near San Francisco was deserted farmland. Many small animals, such as jackrabbits, opossums, field mice, and raccoons, lived here. Then people decided to make their homes in this beautiful area. In fact, they built an entire city.
Some animals were left homeless, confused, and frightened, so they scurried away. But the raccoons decided to stay. They settled down right along with the city folk.
The Foster City raccoons moved into garages, sheds, crawl spaces under houses, attics, hot tub areas, and cozy corners under stairs and decks. Their new lodging was a step up from the fallen trees, piles of stone, and holes in the banks of creeks where raccoons make their homes in the wild.
The raccoons’ new environment brought new food choices, too. Being nocturnal, these animals roam Foster City at night searching for fruit trees, dishes full of pet food, fish from the city lagoons and private ponds, vegetables, seeds, insects, and other invertebrates. They also topple over garbage cans and sort through the leftovers!
With all these new conveniences, the raccoons probably think things are working out fine. But some people and some pets disagree.
Our two cats sleep in the garage, where they have food, water, beds, and a kitty door to go outside. But one night when I was about to put them to bed, they fought their way out of my arms and back into the house. I was puzzled.
The next morning when I went into the garage I discovered the reason. An intruder had clearly been there.
The cat’s water dish was a muddy mess. A new 10-pound bag of Friskies cat food had been tugged out of a closed chest, ripped open, and half eaten. The rest of the cat food looked as though it had been through a cafeteria food fight.
Raccoons! I thought.
Just then a baby raccoon peeked out from behind the chest. His inquisitive eyes seemed to ask, “What do I do next?”
It took several loud claps and some verbal coaxing before he understood my firm message: “Out!” He ran for the kitty door just as a second little raccoon scooted out from behind the chest. They made their hasty escape out the door.
After that we closed the cat door permanently!
Not everyone is patient with these intrusions. I was sad and angry when I heard a man bragging about killing a raccoon. He said it had damaged his property. “I wish they were all dead!” the frustrated man said.
While I don’t want my property damaged or a raccoon in my bed, I want to continue to find ways we can live comfortably alongside these animals. Prevention is the key to avoiding problems.
Raccoons are part of God’s creation. If we learn to protect our property and respect the raccoons’ needs, we can relax and enjoy our heavenly Father’s handiwork: the intelligent and amusing “city” raccoon.
Illustrated by Stephen Foster