Friday, November 4, 2011

Urban Wildlife: Young Raccoons

There's a lot of wildlife out there these days, even in urban and suburban settings. If you've got a back yard (especially if you have trees), you've probably got some wild animals around you. Raccoons are ubiquitous in Chicagoland -- especially in the suburbs. In an urban or suburban setting, they've got everything they need: access to plenty of food (often stolen from dog and cat bowls, dumpsters, garbage cans, and gardens), trees and cover.

Every summer around late June or early July, when the new baby raccoons become strong and mature enough, they emerge from their dens and follow their mothers around, as their mothers teach them to hunt. By fall, raccoons should be well on their way to fattening themselves for winter. Once November rolls around, they should have enough accumulated body fat to survive a string of cold nights with no food. And while November in Chicagoland isn't usually all that cold, December and the hard winter months of January and February are right around the corner. Raccoons don't hibernate, but they become dormant on cold winter nights, living off their stored body fat. So raccoons need to spend November furiously fattening up in preparation for winter.

This summer, the baby raccoons didn't emerge in these parts until late August. That's extremely late in the season for babies to start learning to hunt, but it was probably the result of an abnormally late mating season (thanks to last year's abnormally cold, snowy February/March). Since raccoons don't come out when it's much below 32° degrees, they likely spent most of last spring's mating season (February & March) in cold-induced dormancy. So the babies were born abnormally late, emerged from their dens and learned to hunt abnormally late, and are abnormally late in fattening up for winter.

Two weeks ago, a Drive and Dish photographer captured the above picture of a raccoon mother taking her five babies up a maple tree in a suburb of Chicago. By late October (when the picture was taken), baby raccoons, or kits, should be bigger than the ones shown above. Here's to hoping they fatten up quickly and make it through the winter.

Photo: © 2011 T.S./Drive and Dish.


Joe said...

I used to think raccoons were cool,
But then they started hanging around my house,
They ate the dog food and tore up the garage,
All while remaining quiet as a mouse

Not until they climbed onto the roof, however, did the real trouble begin to unfold,
They pooped on the roof and ripped up the shingles, and entered the attic unopposed

Then they shredded the insulation, and built a den in which they raised a brood,
They left the attic in shambles - full of poop, garbage and rotting food

But the worst of the worst only commenced when they grew tired of their attic digs,
They tore a hole in the ceiling, jumped down into the kitchen, and ransacked it like a horde of marauding pigs

Then they stormed like an army into the living room,
Where they pooped behind the chairs, sofa and love seat,
It appears as though they pooped on every inch of the carpet,
Too bad I walked into the room in my bare feet!

Now as bad as that sounds, the final straw came when I found raccoon poop in my bed,
I should have known what was up when my pillow felt too soft,
Because I woke up with raccoon poop all over my head

So now I have to find a way to get rid of these most troublesome ring-tailed foes,
And then I'll need to to clean up all this damn raccoon poop,
Which covers me from head to toe.

I can't get enuff said...

Parlay Larry is gay!

I can't get enuff said...

Parlay Larry is gay!

Parlay Larry said...

I'm not gay. Am I into 'Glee'? Sure. Just as much as the next guy. Do I like 'Dancing With the Stars'? Of course I do. Who doesn't like ballroom dancing? Do I listen to Coldplay? You betcha. I love Coldplay. And Coldplay is definitely not gay. The lead singer is married to Gweneth. She's fabulous and oh so skinny! What straight guy wouldn't want to be married to her??

How many times do I need to tell ya, I'm not gay. No homo, m'kay.

poo said...


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