Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Generalists

Raccoons have benefited greatly from the presence of humans, something not many animals can claim. Their intelligence, omnivorous diet and amazing adaptability have caused raccoon populations to increase, even quadruple, in urban environments. As far as raccoons are concerned, humans host the perfect "bed and breakfast." With backyard gardens, compost heaps, and brimming garbage cans, we set a bountiful buffet. Our abandoned cars, sheds, decks and attics provide warm, safe dens. Our mere presence protects raccoons from predators. Coyotes, wolves, foxes and mountain lions will hesitate to invade our property for the sake of a raccoon. And we think raccoons are non-threatening and cute, something that definitely works in the raccoon's favor.

It is best to remember, raccoons are wild animals, even if they've become close neighbors. It is safer for you, your family, your pets and the raccoon to discourage interaction. Raccoons can carry rabies and parasites and will kill your pets to gain ownership of the outdoor food bowl. Simple precautions—weighting your trashcans, keeping them tightly sealed, feeding your pets indoors, closing crawl spaces or decking—will make your yard less attractive.

To learn more about raccoons and how interesting they are, visit our Animal Facts Pages.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many years ago my grandmother raised an orphaned raccoon whom she named Bill. His favorite food was warmed milk in a baby bottle---nipple and all. His best friend became the family dog--Cuddles. She protected him like a pup.
He did not wash his food---but he did eat anything and everything he could get---including Gram's canary. Yup---he was returned to the Maine woods. Hopefully he was able to fend for himself.
Mis Mil