Signs pointed to raccoons having returned to the Prairie house. There was the day a small, empty, well-washed plastic container of crab salad had been lifted from the recycle bin and left on the porch under an Adirondack chair. Disappointing for sure for the raccoon.
Down at the lake the wires under the fish feeder had been pulled loosed. Raccoons with their dexterous front paws and long creepy fingers can easily maneuver objects as well as any human, sometimes better.
I heard of a neighbor who was so outdone by raccoons ravaging his garbage can that he drilled holes all around the top and filled them with dowel pegs to secure the lid. Surely the devious critters would be foiled in their attempts to open the garbage can. On the contrary, the pegs were all removed by the next day.
Maybe five years ago I started trapping varmints, capturing over a hundred raccoons, a few possums, three skunks and one beaver. Raccoons, with their cute little bandit faces, can be detrimental to our pets, small wildlife, bird and duck eggs, our plants, fruits and vegetables — and they are notorious for pulling wires out of the fish feeder, which drives Sam crazy.
On one particularly hot afternoon, I witnessed Wilhelmina, our kitten, gazing into the pear tree where I discovered a raccoon about 15 feet up clinging to the tree trunk. A couple of half-eaten pears lay at the tree’s base.
So, out came the no-kill traps. In a matter of days eight or so raccoons were trapped and removed. I couldn’t help but wonder what our Prairie yard looked like at night while inside we slept peaceful and oblivious.
Sam suggested I put one trap on the little wooden bridge by the small pond. He said night critters like to forage along the banks of the water for frogs and water things. So I did, throwing in a little dry cat food for bait.
The next morning the trap held a possum. I called out to Sam to alert him to remove the critter, as that has become his job. In a moment he yelled back, “The possum has babies.”
“What? She had babies in the trap!” I was mortified.
“Probably not,” he said. “She’s a marsupial, and the babies are in her pouch.”
This was a terrible situation and put us in quite a bind. One possum can have one to three litters a year with an average of eight to nine young but can have up to 20 infants at a time. We had no idea how many infants were in her marsupial pouch. The situation was awful, so I left it with Sam and for now we closed up the traps.
I looked up marsupials and found there is only one kind in the United States, the Virginia Opossum. The others found in Australia, South America, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea have wonderful names sounding like characters in a Harry Potter movie: dunnarts, bandicoots, wombats, wallabies and Tasmanian devils. At least we can be thankful we’re not facing wombats.
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