Thursday, July 5, 2012

PhotoPrompt: Controlling Pests

Raccoon picture
Thanks to Arleen at Starting Over, Accepting Changes-Maybe

When we first moved into our home, we were greeted by short, bandit wearing neighborhood scavengers. These uninvited guests quickly turned into permanent residents who took refuge under our deck. We called animal control to relocate the raccoons, but every time they trapped one in a cage, another one came to take his place.

Next a handyman installed chicken wire under the deck, but the raccoons managed to tear through it. Soon a family of four had moved in, and were often seen walking outside our patio door. Things only got worse when I would hear them playing on our roof late at night. Before I could figure out what
was causing the noise, the mama raccoon peered at me through the skylight. She smiled as if to say, "What are you gonna do about it?"

The animal warden came out again, and told us that even when they release them into the wild, they usually come back anyway. This was reassuring, but like everything else we decided to take a wait and see approach. As our kids, and raccoon's grandchildren went through puberty relatively unscathed, we continued to coexist together. I was waiting for one of them to come down the chimney, but my husband didn't seem to mind until a recent chance encounter.

While he was watering our flowers in the backyard, he noticed an unusually large rock. When it awoke, he almost came face to face with one of our house guests. The raccoon didn't like being disturbed, and quickly stormed off. Fortunately, it rained the next day, so there wasn't another bully confrontation on the playground.

A few days later, I noticed something moving while we were watching TV. We were in the same room off of the deck, where the raccoons usually went on their evening stroll. I stood up when I realized it was a mouse. My husband chased it around the room, as I jumped around pointing, while clinging on to my trusty Swiffer Sweeper. Eventually, my younger son came home to help us evict the mouse. When my husband trapped him in a plastic container, I reminded him how mice often come back. He and my son had a good laugh, as they guided him out the kitchen door. A second later, as he ran back into the kitchen, I tossed my boy the Swiffer, and he blocked it like a hockey goal.

The next day, his sibling was found in the same location behind the TV. My brave son chased him out the door, and this one didn't look back. The pest control service came out within half an hour, and apologized for being late. He found an opening in the basement, and sealed the area to prevent more mice from coming in. When he was surveying the deck, he noticed our raccoons. The exterminator warned me that raccoons carried ticks which could possibly get into our home. This was all my husband needed to hear.

He immediately started researching humane wildlife removal services, when he came across one that offered a ten year guarantee. Traps were set, and two men started digging under our deck. They surrounded it with steel that was "guaranteed to last." We had mouse traps in the house, and raccoon traps on the deck. The house was still. No more bowling matches on the roof, or indoor hide and seek games.

When the man came to remove the empty cages, he noticed that the bait was gone. The raccoons had the last laugh, by pulling out all but one marshmallow from the trap. I still don't think we've seen the last of them. They probably just went for a long, summer camping trip, or else they've just moved the party into our attic. After living with the raccoons for all of these years, a pair of mice might have finally driven them out. In the meantime, we still have to be on the lookout for moving rocks.


  1. They probably took those marshmallows off to make s'mores.

  2. haha--i would rather have those mice!

  3. It is the perfect season for s'mores!
    I wouldn't want to kill them, but I'd definitely want them away from my house.

  4. Delores - I did see some chocolate missing from my cupboard, and I was wondering who was using the grill when my husband wasn't home! Very funny! Thanks Delores!

    Lynn - I have plenty of creepy crawlers with lots of legs to keep me company until they come back! I'm not crazy about any of them. Thanks Lynn!

    Alex - That's why we called a humane wildlife removal service to set them free in the forest. It's kind of like a witness protection program for animals, but the raccoons outsmarted us all! Thanks Alex!


  5. I know a guy. He could see to it that the raccoons sleep with the fishes. For a price. The next state over is New Jersey, after all.
    Or you could get a gorilla.

  6. I don't think I'd mind the raccoons so much, but the mice...I once realized I had a mouse in my house when I went to brush my teeth in the morning there was a mouse dropping right on my toothbrush. So gross. :(

  7. Oh dear - those little darlings are so cute, but oh so pesty. We had to have a trapper come in also and get the one we had in our yard. It took him two weeks to catch him. In the meantime, I had to bring in the bird feeders every night so they wouldn't have any food. Good luck.

  8. I watched "Raccoon Nation" on PBS where they studied urban raccoons. The more traps and such we set for them, the smarter raccoons get, which means in a century or two we'll have a Planet of the Apes scenario only with raccoons.

  9. Well, your story is the best. I don't know if that is good or bad news.

  10. Al - What kind of favor would I have to do in return? I hope it doesn't involve driving at night, because my eyesight isn't what it used to be. Maybe I should just send away for a gorilla. Thanks Al!

    L.G. - Glad you were smart enough to realize what it was. UGH!! Thanks for the heads-up L..G.!

    Mary - Sorry you had to go through that. Hopefully, our friends won't be coming back anytime soon. Thanks Mary!

    PT - You should write a screenplay with a Planet Of The Raccoons meets Twilight theme. You could even make it a musical, and have Daniel Radcliffe star in it! You have to work fast before the raccoons write it! Thanks PT!

    Arleen - I really enjoyed your story too, and your wonderful photo inspired me! Susan also wrote a cute story with your photo. See all the good you've done?! Thanks Arleen! Julie

  11. Most enjoyable post enjoyed the read.


  12. That raccoon looks so cute... but I guess they're not cute when you have to live with them. Our cats sometimes bring live mice into the house and then get fed up of playing with them. We have a humane mouse trap. The mouse enters a plastic box for the bait, the door drops shut and I take it down the garden. Our last mouse was cleverer than that. Like your raccoons I spotted him hooking the piece of cheese with his claw and pulling it out without getting caught. We shooed him out of the kitchen door in the end but it won't be long before the cats bring in another. Mind you, we are all empty nesters and what else are we expected to do with our spare time?!?

  13. Julie you have such a wonderfully tolerant attitude toward your uninvited guests. I wish mine would stay away.

    If you have seen one mouse there are more you can't see. They sneak in at night and get in the cupboards. They chew through anything that is cardboard they love fat, butter, shortening and chocolate. They use rice to build a nest and take up residency inside the walls. They spread germs on the counter top. I have a three fold approach to mice. Put everything in containers they can't chew through, plug up holes where they get in, and regular visits from the exterminator.

    I wish I had your sense of humor.

  14. I lived with raccoons once upon a time, but not for too long. Cannot abide mice. Perhaps we are related LOL.

    Happy Critter-Free Weekend!

  15. Ooops, I almost didn't read this post, because I recognized the picture and thought I'd ALREADY read it. (One point for recognizing the picture, but darn! gotta deduct two for forgetting I hadn't read your post.)

    As always, another fun post. Raccoons are such cute critters, but I don't think I'd want a mess of them living that up-close and personal. Not so much for the ticks (which I loathe) but for fear of rabies. Let's hope your hairy family found new digs. Far, far away.

  16. So the bandits were havig a party then.


  17. I cracked up about you jumping around with the Swifter LOL. That would be me as well.

    My sister had raccoons at her house for a while and your experience sounds so similar to hers. I know I would not want to deal with them, but their pictures are sure cute.

    Hope you have a great weekend, Julie. Your new profile picture is great! :)

  18. Thanks Yvonne!

    Rosalind - Sorry you also had a mice problem. It isn't so easy to shoo them out the door, but we also did that before we had traps. Funny how your mouse was smart enough to grab the cheese! We have chocolate in ours. So true about the spare time! Thanks Rosalind!

    Yvonne - I can laugh about this now, but it wasn't funny at the time. The next morning after the first mouse was found, I called the exterminator. Their earliest appointment was two days later. When the second mouse appeared, I called another exterminator who came out within half an hour. I have traps set up throughout the house, and some areas were sealed outside. This happened in early June, and nothing has been found since then. I have a zero tolerance for mice, or any other uninvited critters. Fortunately, the raccoons never came inside. Hopefully, they won't be back, but we will still be on the lookout. Sorry you also had a problem with mice, and those are great tips! Thanks Yvonne!

    Carol - Hope you have a " critter- free" weekend too! Thanks Carol!

    Susan - You always get extra points in my book! Thanks Susan!

    Shelly - They had many underground and rooftop soirees here! Thanks Shelly!

    Julie - Sorry your sister also had to deal with them! They are photogenic critters! Speaking of that, I finally got a summer photo up in July! Thanks so much Julie!

  19. Good you can laugh about it. I'm not sure which would be worse for me, mouse or raccoons.

  20. Oh my, raccoons! I truly sympathise with you and at least you look at it with a light hearted spirit.
    You've now reminded my of the 'dreaded' hedgehogs that look amazingly like fuzzy rocks. One time I couldn't open my garden gate. I looked down and curled up against the gate was a hedgehog!
    Thanks for this and raccoons look like 'burglars' :)
    Enjoy your weekend. I'm going to go have a marshmallow...

  21. Tonja - Hopefully, you'll stay clear of both of them! Thanks Tonja!

    Gary - How dare that hedgehog enter your magical garden! I hope you've seen the last of him. I admire your willpower for only consuming one marshmallow! Enjoy your weekend too! Thanks Gary! Julie

  22. Maybe they'll enjoy their camping trip so much they'll decide to relocate. I think I'd get more upset about the mice too. There's just something about any uninvited guests INSIDE your home that is so much worse. I hope your pest control works.

    1. I hope you're right! We'll keep our fingers crossed! Thanks Danielle! Julie

  23. Raccoons can be super-cute, but they can also be a pest! That said, I do miss them. They don't exist in Europe!

  24. We are constantly relocating raccoons. They are adorable and they are friendly with my cats and actually share food if I'm not quick enough to bring the bowls in. They eat all the apples from the trees and harvest the grapes before I get my fair share. I totally relate to your experience. I've come to accept the fact that I'm going to have to share my small piece of earth with these guys and learn how to outwit them whenever possible.

  25. Raccoons are wiley coyotes for sure. I'm very fortunate to not have a problem with here, but I don't.



  26. Talli - I thought you had more of a thing for squirrels! I still remember your funny story! Thanks Talli!

    Lee - You are very generous with your raccoons! I didn't realize that they got along well with cats. Keep outwitting them! Thanks Lee!

    Teresa - They are pretty "wiley!" Glad you don't have a problem with them! Thanks Teresa! Julie