Thursday, October 21, 2010

Invasion of the Raccoon

This isn't a completely new story, but it's somewhat funny. A couple years ago, I was awakened by this strange sound that was very faint, coming from above my head. It was a scratch, scratch, scrrrrrrratch sound. And then movement sounds. And then more scrrrrrrrrratching. What the hell ?!?! I figured it was probably a squirrel that got up in my attic. My dogs (they sleep in bed with me) were going apeshit crazy. They definitely wanted to get whatever it was that was creeping around up there. Finally the noises subsided and we were able to go back to sleep.

Well, this pattern of being awakened at 4 am or 5 am continued for days. Always in the middle of the night. And then it stopped. Just as suddenly as it started. I forgot about it completely. I guessed that the squirrel had taken off for greener pastures.

Then a couple weeks later, there it was again. Scratch, scratch, scrrrrrrratch. Dogs going nuts. Now it became an every night occurrence until finally one night I was so pissed off I grabbed a flashlight and a ladder and climbed up into the crawl space in my closet, which is the entry to the attic. I was spewing cuss words all the way up the ladder. At the top of the ladder with my head poking up into the attic, I looked around. And about six feet away from me,

Here's what I saw:

NOT this cute little thang:

Or this adorable baby:

 But THIS:

I stupidly thought that I could "shoo" it away and that shining a flashlight into its face would scare it into fleeing and the raccoon would never been seen again. Ha! Was I naive.

What actually happened was the raccoon look at me with a very blank expression on his face as if to say, "whaaaaaat?"  After bitching him out (yeah, he was intimidated, I'm sure ....), I closed the door, climbed back down the ladder and went back to bed. I certainly wasn't going to try to catch a raccoon in my attic, by myself, in the middle of the night. But at least now I knew what I was dealing with.

I went back to sleep and dreamed about my little visitor:

The next day I called a humane wildlife capture service but they couldn't come out for a couple days. Apparently I wasn't the only house in Austin where raccoons were taking up residence.

Now he started to get more bold and was walking around in the attic during the day, making his raccoon noises. I could hear him crawling around above my head in my office (I work from home). It was like he was stalking me in my own house. Scratch, scratch, scrrrrrrratch. Scratch, scratch, scrrrrrrratch.Thump, thump, thump. Scratch, scratch, scrrrrrrratch.

The wildlife capture people came out and since their trap couldn't fit through the attic opening, they set it next to the house. Um, yeah. Like that's gonna work. "Oh don't worry ... this will get him," the guy told me. "They love wet cat food and I put a can of it in the back of the trap so you should have something in there tomorrow and then we'll come by and pick it up and take it out somewhere and release it. Problem solved." Well, the only thing that trap caught was my friend's new puppy when she got a little too curious about the cat food. Good thing it was a humane trap.

So, the trap was a complete and utter failure. We couldn't figure out where the raccoon was getting in, so it was hard to place the trap at the entry point. Several more days went by until ...

I was jolted awake around 4 or 5 am (it was still pitch dark out) by a loud crashing noise followed by more  strange noises. But the noises weren't in the attic. They were IN MY BEDROOM. I saw something dark dart across the room and run UNDER MY BED. I quickly grabbed the dogs and closed them in another bedroom and grabbed a flashlight. I bent down and looked under my bed and here's what was looking back at me:

And it was UNDER MY BED, GROWLING AT ME! I called a neighbor who lives two doors down and he ran down in his robe. What ensued could have been a scene from a movie. My neighbor and me chasing this raccoon around my house with a broom at 4 am with the dogs going completely nuts in the bedroom. We chased it into the den where it scaled walls and bookcases and windows, toppling over all my knickknacks and whatever else got in its way. Finally we opened the front door (genius idea and it wasn't mine but my neighbor's) and the raccoon ran out the door and was gone. He even used the front walk. 

I later figured out that the raccoon had been walking around in the attic when it apparently fell through my A/C closet and down the shaft. Its body weight hit the inside of the closet door, knocking it open. And depositing the raccoon into my house, right outside my bedroom.

Luckily, the next day I was able to locate a hole in the ground where I thought the raccoon was gaining access. I made sure the raccoon was NOT up in the attic again and then closed up the hole. My little late night visitor was never heard from or seen again. At least not by me.

Animals Matter. Yeah, even raccoons that invade my home. Raccoons play an important role by keeping down rat and insect populations. If you have the same problem, please don't set out poison or try to shoot the raccoon. You can call a humane animal capture agency and they'll help you "relocate" your visitor. And please make sure there aren't baby raccoons left behind.


  1. This is totally crazy that I happened across your blog. I was looking for a raccoon picture and yours showed up in google. Why was I looking for a raccoon picture? To post an image on Facebook that would go with my story about a raccoon in my attic. Oh yeah... and I live in Austin!!!

    Crazy! Btw, this has been my worst fear (it crashing into my house) but 3 humane wildlife rescue companies all told me that wouldn't happen. Not so sure now! :)

    At least your raccoon didn't have babies. Ours just did. She moved in Saturday and has a whole litter already and it's Tuesday. Yikes!

  2. I also live in Austin, I spent several months rebuilding a home that had been occupied by raccoons. The rent house was unoccupied for 2 months during which time a family of raccoons had "moved in" by Tearing a hole in the roof. this was the spring of 2008 so it was unusually wet. The hole allowed the rain to come in and build up and the "Guests" wreaked a bacchinalian havoc. These are cute fuzzy wrecking balls, so dont invite them into your life by leaving out pet food or feeding them intentionally. They become used to it and when you leave or move out,they will go thru extraordinary measure to get into "their" den(your house).
    In this particular case in 60 days they managed near 35000 dollars worth of damage.

  3. I live in California and my experience with raccoons has been completely different! The only thing I can say in these raccoons defense is that 1.They are hungry with very little of their natural food to eat due to human beings over populating this planet. 2.They are simply acting defensively due to people being so aggressive toward them. 3.Everything has to have somewhere to raise their family.And I guess your vacant house sure looked nice and And the other lady seemed like she'd be a good roommate.heehee
    Anyway.... Raccoons arent as nasty as people say. If they are acting aggressive, it is only because they are afraid or are protecting their young or that they are starving. Did you know that 50% of all baby raccoons die before they are 6 months old due to starvation. And the average life span is only 2 years old. Yet when raised in captivity it is on average 16 years.
    P.S.Raccoons love to play with cat toys. They will carry little stuffed animals around and baby them. Just like a cat. What Im tryin to say is TRY AND GIVE THSES POOR LITTLE GUYS A BRAKE. Maybe put out a bowl of cat food for um once in a while. JK