Sunday, October 18, 2009

Raccoon Roundup

If you're new to my blog and unfamiliar with Sugar and Spike, the short story is that they were born under my front deck, orphaned, rescued, rehabilitated and released. The longer story can be found in the above links. There are lots of photos and a few videos of them when they were just a few weeks old and very, very cute.

I have a few overdue images from the last time we saw Sugar and Spike together. Shortly after this visit back in September, Theresa spent a week up at the cottage but didn't see the two of them together at any time.


They've become difficult to tell apart in the dark, which is when they usually arrive for their feeding, and so when only one shows up, we're never certain if it's Sugar or Spike. Spike is generally bolder and more affectionate than Sugar but during Theresa's visit, the only raccoon that she saw was shy and nervous, and wouldn't accept her approach. Sugar can be skittish like that, but not usually that fearful. The worry is that something might have possibly happened to frighten Spike.

On the plus side, all of the food (and there's more than enough for two appetites) continued to disappear during that time, as well as during the following week when Frank and I were up there. By then, nights were cold and we didn't hang around much to wait for them to appear. But large quantities of food was always gone in the morning.

These images were all taken in September during a typical feeding.


Spike tends to ignore the healthier green beans and go straight for the cat food. He's not much different than any other pre-adolescent who turns his nose up at veggies. He does love peaches though. Let me tell you about that...





In August, Theresa and family were spending some time up at the cottage. Sugar and Spike were coming around without fail every night. They were often seen hanging around the cottage waiting for a handout....





One night, someone awoke to discover that one of the kits was trying to get in through an open window. He closed the window thinking he had thwarted its attempts. However, he turned around to find the other one had already gotten inside and found the peaches which were up on the counter. He was sitting comfortably on the sofa, greedily enjoying the juicy fruit - totally unconcerned with activity around him.





Another night, Theresa awoke to find Spike had broken in through the window once again, made his way into her bedroom, climbed up onto her bed and was gently touching her face with his paws. He just needed a bit of cuddle time with his Mom.






As I've mentioned in previous posts, Theresa looks after all sorts of orphaned animals and early this summer, a pair of day-old kittens came her way. She has adopted the two of them and keeps them with her whether she's home or at the cottage. Like most kittens, Luca and Sambuca can be pretty rambunctious but one particular night, their playing seemed just a little noisier than usual....





Theresa got up to find that Spike had entered the cottage yet again, and was having a great time romping around with his buddies Luca and Sambuca. The kittens were thrilled to play with Spike, and he didn't make too much of a mess this time. He was even thoughtful enough to use the cats' litter box to do his business. He had been litter trained as a tiny kit.





Of course, every time the raccoons came into the cottage, they were quickly shooed outside again. They can't remain too dependent on human contact. They need to learn to fend for themselves. They have been fed a lot, though. The hope is to get them fattened up so that they'll cope with the winter.






This friendly guy is Spike. As you can see, back in September, he'd eat out of my hand.. especially if it's his all-time favourite treat - marshmallows.





He's incredibly gentle and very affectionate. He would allow me to pet him while he'd eat, and one time he came around to the campfire, to sit with us briefly. He never once startled with the camera flash going off all the time. Isn't he beautiful?





A rare photo of Sugar and Spike together. That's Sugar hogging the bowl of cat food. Spike makes sure he gets a few handfuls now and then.





Nobody has been to the cottage for a couple of weeks now. Frank hopes to get up there for a day or two, just to retrieve a few things which we left up there last time, in hopes that we'd return soon. No doubt he'll leave a large bag of cat food out for Sugar and Spike. That will probably be the last human handout until next spring.

If there's anything new to report, I'll be sure to let you know. Until then, please wish those critters strength to get through the winter. I hope we'll have more raccoon tales for you in the spring.

63 comments:

Grayquill said...

You way kinder than I am - I do not trust those critters even for a minute but you are right cute if not beautiful -

imac said...

Hi Hilary, these are cute critters for sure, and these shots are fantastic.
Thanks for your visit and kind words.

Valerie said...

Hilary, that was a fascinating account of the raccoons. I knew nothing about them before. They seem so friendly, and I love the shape of their paws - just like hands and fingers. Thank you for posting this and adding to my education.

NJ said...

This definitely brings back memories of when my husband's family had Martin and Teddy. They were part of the family for 2 full years until we reintroduced them to the wild at Inverhuron.

I think I'd have a heart attack if I woke to find a racooon in my bed touching my face though.

Protege said...

Aw, they are just so cute. Irresistible faces. I am sure the way they return the affection must be priceless. I hope they will survive the winter safely.
Hope you are having a lovely weekend dear friend.;)
xo

Tabor said...

Are they ever going to be dehuminized? They are beginning to look too dependent on humans for food and confort and these little guys can be quite damaging to a house.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Adorable! I will keep these little cuties in my thoughts throughout the winter and hope they'll show up again in the spring.

the Bag Lady said...

Thanks for the update, Hilary! I hope they make it through the winter (hell, I hope we ALL make it through the winter!) and go on to lead happy racoon lives. :)

Nessa said...

Oh, they look so cute and friendly.

Come Get Your Sunshine

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

oh yes, they are impossibly cute :)

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

I never got this familiar with the raccoons who adopted us but I often wished I had. These are amazing photos.

Maggie May said...

I got quite attached to them from the beginning. They are quite *grown up* looking now.
I would be a bit phased by one licking my face in the night though. Might wonder what it was. LOL! No that is scary.

I assume they are not house trained! Another problem.
I didn't realise that raccoons needed to hibernate like little bears and hedgehogs though.
I really hope they make it to the Spring.

Nuts in May

photowannabe said...

What a fascinating saga of the racoons. I do hope they make it through the winter on their own.
Great pictures too.

Inty swetha said...

i have never seen anything so cute!! i love it.. the pictures are awesome

lakeviewer said...

Oh my, you are brave. We are told not to feed animals in the wild or they stop fending for themselves and will become dependent on humans.

Maria said...

Oh.....you made me miss my Freddie-my raccoon visitor from a year ago who used to like to sleep on the glider and wait for handouts at my 24 hour coontina. Those twins are so darn cuuuuute.

SD at "Addicted to The Click" said...

OH wow....they are so friendly! I had a really HUGE one on my back fence last month that was just about to pounce on my little dog! Some how I don't think it would have gone well... ;o)

Barbara Martin said...

I hope they do all right through the winter. With the days getting colder the instinct to hibernate will set in and they'll find a cozy dry place to sleep.

This account was quite touching.

Down by Lake Ontario I haven't seen any racoons at all in the evening when they tend to come around the dumpsters for a look-see. They must be in their cozy holes.

Brian Miller said...

too cute. my youngest son has a little stuffed raccoon that he sleeps with. nice pics hilary!

Travis Erwin said...

Great pics as usual. Now that I live in town and don't have to keep the bandits out of my trash i like them much better.

ds said...

Awww...I am amazed that they remain so tame; hope they do make it through the winter...and that you'll see the proof next spring. (am having visions of Elsa the lioness returning with her cubs in "Born Free")

Frank Baron said...

I think they have a decent shot at making it, particularly if the two of them stay together through the winter. They're clever, resourceful creatures and have had more regular meals during the summer than their wild brethren. Here's hoping....

Country Girl said...

What a good story. And I can't believe they got onto the bed and were petting Theresa's face!!

Karen said...

Those two are very cute! And they behaved for you to take pics! WOW. The racoons I'm used to here, get into anything left outside. They are at times aggressive. I'm gonna blame it on the tourists who feed them people food all the time.:) But yours seem more well mannered. You "raised them right."

blunoz said...

Hilary - Thanks for the update and photos. Sugar and Spike sure are precious. I wonder if we'll see future posts with a new generation of kits in tow.

SandyCarlson said...

I love that about cuddle time! These are lovely young friends.

Shammickite said...

There must be a big raccoon living in or near my back yard. He's already tipped over the concrete bird bath 3 times, the last time breaking it in half. No more drinkies for you in the the middle of the night Mr Raccoon!
I have to admit, your two young ones are cute, I hope they can survive the winter up there at the cottage. Now, what do raccoons eat during the winter? Do they cache food in order to deal with hard times?

Hilary said...

• Grayquill you'd trust them (at least at this age/stage) if you had held them in the palm of your hand and fed them from a tiny baby bottle. I've had my share of raccoon incidents (like when one came through my bedroom ceiling) in the past and though they can be destructive and nasty, I love them all the more for knowing them a bit better. I suspect you might too. ;) Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks so much, Imac. Much appreciated. :)

• Valerie, these guys are only friendly because they were hand-raised. I do know people who spend a lot of time feeding and looking out for the raccoons in my general neighbourhood and they say they're quite friendly too but make no mistake about them being wild creatures. They can be quite vicious if they feel threatened. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thank so much for stopping by. :)

• NJ, it sounds like you probably have a few Martin and Teddy stories to blog about. They're a lot of fun, aren't they? Spike is a really gentle, tactile and loving little guy and he was very attached to his surrogate mother, Theresa. All that changes when they reach sexual maturity though. And in fact they're far less interested in human interaction now anyway. It has a way of working out. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks, Protege. They are indeed irresistibly cute. I couldn't help but reach out to them while they were eating. They trust the hands with which they're familiar but less so all the time. They're more wild than tame now by far. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Not to worry, Tabor. They are on their own now for the most part. There's nobody at the cottage now and nobody leaving them food any longer. They needed to be well fed in order to survive the winter ahead. And even mid-summer, they were far less humanized than early on. I totally trust that Theresa knows what she's doing. She's been rehabbing for years. Thanks for your kind, caring comment. :)

• Thanks very much EthelMae. You can bet I'll be doing the same. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks so much, Baggie. Let's hope they do exactly that. :)

• Nessa, I agree. They're two very cute critters. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• I totally agree, Gary. :)

• Thanks, Abe. I believe your raccoons were a full family.. mother included so it would be unwise to get that friendly with them. These two were orphaned and needed some mothering which Theresa so lovingly provided. Thanks for the kind comment. :)

• Maggie, I don't think too much bothers Theresa raccoon-wise. She was far more amused than alarmed at finding Spike in bed with her. They're not allowed indoors anymore. That phase was over when they were just a few months old. They do think they're entitled though and tried to sneak in every now and then - sometimes succeeding. That one time that Spike was in playing with the kittens, he remembered the litter box and thoughtfully used it. So really, they've not caused too much damage other than torn window screens. I believe they semi-hibernate - hopefully through the coldest part of the winter. Thanks so much for your kind comments. :)

• Thanks so much, Sue. I sure hope they do too. Thanks for dropping by. :)

• Thank you, Inty. Much appreciated. :)

Hilary said...

• Lakeviewer that's absolutely true about animals in the wild but these guys were still getting used to becoming wild. They had been orphaned at just 4 or 5 weeks of age and needed the human touch if they were going to survive. Hopefully they will. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Aww Maria. Sorry you're missing your Freddie. I laughed at "coontina." Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)

• SD, I think you're right. That couldn't have gone well. ;) Thanks for the visit. :)

• I hope you're right, Barbara. I'd sure love to know that they'll make it through to spring and beyond. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thanks, Brian. I'll bet that your son and his little raccoon would make a nice pic too. :)

• Thanks, Travis. I like them much better when they're not falling through my ceiling too. ;)

• Thanks, DS. Now I have that theme song running through my head! :)

• I sure hope you're right, Frank. Hopefully they've been helping themselves to that multitude of acorns we saw over by the bay a couple of weeks back. Those will help fatten them up too. :)

• Thanks, Kate. A tad different than say.. a border collie snuggling up with you, eh? ;) Thanks for stopping by and I sure hope you're feeling much better. Look after yourself, friend. :)

• Thanks so much, Karen but none of that was my doing. It was Theresa who raised them right. She's the hero in their story. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks very much, Kevin. If we do, I'll sure be glad that they're not in my attic or under my deck again. And yet. I'll miss the little darlings... sigh! Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Sandy. They are more wonderful than words can say. I sure hope they'll make it through. Thanks so much for the viisit. :)

• Shammie, that does indeed sound like a raccoon incident. They like water! They like trouble too. :) They will presumably do a lot of sleeping during the winter.. a kind of pseudo hibernation. They should still be able to get at fish, small rodents if they're quick enough, frog.. etc. There should also still be edible berries for them and acorns aplenty. If Frank goes up to the cottage again next week, he'll bring up a large bag of cat food for them. They can work at that until it's empty. Thanks for your visit. :)

Nancy said...

They are so adorable. I so hope they make it through the winter. I love all the kindness they you have all shown such intelligent creatures. We can learn so much through posts like this one.

Georgie K. Buttons said...

Oh, they are adorable! Raccoons are some of my favorite animals. Granted, I've never actually met one, but still. They're super cute.

The Things We Carried said...

Just amazing! I remember them as babes.

Thumbelina said...

They look so cute. They are absolutely gorgeous - and mischevious.

If they have been used to so much human contact will they be okay over winter? I hope so. I look forward to spring when you can see how they are and if they remember you.

Great photos Hilary and a story well told.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Beautiful and lovely shots !! Nice post..Unseen Rajasthan

Crabby McSlacker said...

Such expressive faces! Thanks for the round up.

Sure hope they do well over wintertime--perhaps you could plant some marshmallow bushes for them?

Leah J. Utas said...

I'd love to cuddle a raccoon.
Thanks for the updates. I'm sure they'll be fine.

Margo said...

what a cool experience! You are very brave - I can't help thinking that these critters sense you will be good to them. Good luck to all as winter approaches!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Hello, Hilary!! Thanks for stopping by!! It is nice to be introduced!! And your kindness means so very much to me! I'm sorry it took me some time to make my way over here...still a little bleary...but I am so very glad I came! I love this. Sugar and Spike are simply beautiful! I'm enamored with them! What a very special relationship you have! And what fantastic photographs! All the best to you, and to your cuddly friends ;-) ~Janine XO

Gaston Studio said...

What darlings? So, are you setting up playdates for the kittens and raccoons yet? ;-)))

Cheffie-Mom said...

They are so friendly. I love their little paws -- the photo of you and the little one holding hands is precious!! enJOY your day!!

Daryl said...

Late to this party but I sat entranced as always by your post about those two scamps... there's a children's book in this story ..

Tom Bailey said...

My bubonic plaugue phobia would keep me further away from handfeeding them. Just my opinion.

chewy said...

Your pics have put Racoons in my mind for a future Critter painting.

Merisi said...

I am so glad these critters made it to adulthood!
I hope they have fattened up enough to get through the winter and we will see them again when spring rolls around.

Mental P Mama said...

I don't know if I could part with them...and I am in total agreement with Daryl--You need to write a children's book!

Reb said...

Wonderful update Hilary. I am sure they will find a nice dry place to hole up for winter - lets hope it's not the cabin though :)

Suldog said...

Just magnificent, Hilary. Loved the stories when originally told, and appreciate the update.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Hope they have a great winter.

SandyCarlson said...

These are so wonderful. It's good to see them again.

Hilary said...

• Thanks kindly, Nancy. I sure hope they do too. Thanks so much for your always-kind words. Very much appreciated. :)

• Thanks, Georgie. I'm pretty sure they'd still be a favourite if you did meet one. :) Thank for stopping by. :)

• They're quite unforgettable eh, MT? Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks so much, Thumbelina. I get your concern about the human contact, but they absolutely did need the care that they got because they were so young when they were orphaned. Their friendliness is from being hand-raised. We needed to continue with the feedings if they were going to put on enough body fat to cope with the cold winter. They're pretty much on their own now though, so time will tell if that was good enough. Hopefully it was. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, UR. Much appreciated. :)

• Crabby, that's a great idea. We'll plant it right beside your cupcake tree! Thanks for the kind words. I hope that you and the Lobster have a safe trip back west. :)

• Thanks kindly, Leah. It's a cuddle you'd never forget. They're sweet little beings. :)

• Thanks, Margo. They've had to get used to Theresa mostly but to a few others as well since May, when they were five weeks old . Thanks for the good wishes. :)

• Thanks so much, Janine. I'm glad to see you up and about but I hope you're getting some good rest, and are healing daily. Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. :)

• GS, we're letting Benny take care of that. ;) Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks very much, Cheffie. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. They are indeed little sweeties. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Daryl, you're never late to the party. It only gets started when you arrive. Thanks always for the kind words. :)

• Not to worry, Tom. I don't think we'll infect them with anything. ;)

• Chewy, I'm glad that Sugar and Spike have inspired you. :)

• Merisi, I sure hope so too, but they're hardly adults quite yet - only about 6 months old. Still babes. Thanks so much for the kind words. :)

• Thanks, MPM. I'm sure you'd find it easier to part with them once they reach adolescence. They tend to become nasty then. That doesn't mean that my heart doesn't ache. I can only imagine how Theresa feels. Sigh! Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Reb and I hope you're right too about them finding good shelter that is not the cottage. Good thinking. ;) Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks so much, Suldog. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

• Thanks, Elizabeth. So do I. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Sandy. I sure hope it's not the last time we see them. Thanks always for your visits. :)

MaggieGem said...

Hilary, thanks for the follow up. I'm glad to see the kits are doing well, you've a wonderful way with stories and you photos are just excellent.

Hope the little guys do well over the winter.

Kathleen said...

What a lovely story, Hillary. I don't think I know of another soul whose become so acquainted with these critters. What a special relationship. I teared up looking at these photos. And I'd do almost anything to touch those cold (I assume) wet noses.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Oh aren't they the cutest?! I wouldn't be able to leave, I'd be too worried about them. I laughed out loud at the peaches, Hilary.

Kat said...

Oh those little babies. They are so cute! And smart and sassy too! ;)
Thanks for the update. :)

Moannie said...

These are extraordinary pictures, Hilary. To be that close to a wild animal. I saw a couple once when staying with friends in New Jersey, they were in the garden but we could not go near them as they were thought to be rabid. These though look as if they wouldn't mind a cuddle.

CinBud's Gold said...

Wow, they are adorable! We had our own encounter with some interesting critters in our camping days. Check out our family story called Critters and Gold!

Hilary said...

• MaggieGem, thank you for the very kind words and wishes. They're very much appreciated. Thanks for stopping by. ;)

• Thanks so much, Kathleen. I'm still a relative stranger to these kits compared to their Mama Theresa and by now, even she is probably a distant memory but they sure were fun to know during their growth. I don't think their noses are wet.. or especially cold.. except maybe in winter. ;) Thanks for stopping by. :)

• IBHH, it was really difficult to leave them to fend for themselves but they'd be too unhappy anyplace else. The peaches cracked me up too. They're so.. entitled! Thanks for the visit. :)

• You're very welcome, Kat. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• I'm glad you enjoyed the pics, Moannie. I sure hope your NJ raccoons weren't rabid. I would think it unlikely if they were together but best not to approach them even if they weren't. That's a worry I have for Sugar and Spike. They're so friendly that people might mistake that for the unusual behaviour of rabies. Luckily the place is pretty much deserted over winter. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your kind comment. :)

• Welcome, CinBud and thanks for the comment. I got a kick out of your skunk story. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. :)

Midlife Jobhunter said...

They are beautiful creatures. Such fine markings.

The ducks at our lake are probably awaiting our return - and the handfuls of dog food we provide. Maybe weekend after next...

Hilary said...

• They're beauties eh, MJ? We stopped feeding the ducks around here a while back after doing some research. It seems we could do more harm than good.. depending on the circumstances. But dog food for ducks is a new one to me. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Louise said...

They're so cute I can hardly stand it! I'm reading a series of books to my daughters about a man and his wife who lived in Wisconsin in the 40's-60's and raised orphaned wild animals every summer. They went on lecture tours in the winter, so the animals had to fend for themselves, and they always did.

Hilary said...

Thanks so much for telling me this, Louise. It gives me more hope for Sugar and Spike. Thanks for stopping by. :)

kcinnova said...

I smiled when I saw the picture of them eating marshmallows. I will never forget the camping trip I was on as a child, when a raccoon bandit stole the unguarded bag of marshmallows. He sat up in a tree, just out of reach, eating those marshmallows one by one and watching us watch him.
Sugar and Spike have had the best possible care. I look forward to the photos you will take of them in the spring. :)

Hilary said...

Thanks so much, KC. Raccoons are bold and clever little creatures. And incredibly sweet. And they love their marshmallows .. a lot! Thanks for your always-kind words. :)