Raccon 100 - Jean 0 - the battle continues

jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)May 29, 2006

And no, this isn't a pond war. It's a suet war. It's been going on for months now. But she always beats me.

I have moved it to a dozen different places, but she always finds it. She knows it's up there somewhere.

... and is very quick to rub it in when she finds it.

She has destroyed my redbud tree (notice all the broken limbs).


I thought I had her when I added a can of cayenne pepper to the suet, but apparently she likes her suet hot and spicy!

Even the thorny honey locust tree is not a deterrent.

And she still uses the redbud tree for her daily workout.



But I understood her determination better when I got a glimpse of these.

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fairy_toadmother

ha! jean, i saw that belly and thought, "uh-oh, there's babies!"

what a beautiful face, and a precious pic on the end. thanks! oh, to have your photography skills!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 7:32AM
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zinniachick(southwest Ohio)

Jean, you've outdone yourself. What a riot! That girl looking straight at you and still heading for the prize. Methinks you've met your match. :)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 10:39AM
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youreit

If they all weren't so darned cute (those babies!! awwww!), I'd feel very different about those rascals. The watery eyes on Momma Wallenda in the cayenne pic is hilarious! I get the same results when I eat Chinese hot mustard. It's SO spicy, but dang, it's good! :D

Sorry for the redbud, too! They are such beautiful trees when not used as playground equipment.

Thanks for sharing your GREAT pics with us, Jean!

Brenda

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 11:25AM
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koijoyii(NE Ohio)

Wow, those pics just made my day. What an acrobat. It's amazing what "mother love" does to mothers. She looks so innocent in those first few pics. Who me, what suet? That last picture is priceless. Makes me want to squeeze their cheeks. Thanks for sharing.

Jenny

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 11:41AM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

***LOVE*** your photographs Jean!

Squirrels use our Redbud as their playground equipment. Well heck, they use everything as their playground equipment! LOL!

Chick a Dx3

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 10:40PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

One night I think if I had had a video camera I could have won a funniest home video award. I thought I would outsmart her by hanging it from the end of the tallest branch on the redbud tree. Since redbuds have lots of little branch tips I thought there was no way she could climb out on it. I used an extension pole with a hook to hang it up. That night we waited to see what she would do. Feeling very smug we watched her climb the first 10 feet and stop. Very slowly she edged out farther (picture number 3) until the branch slowly bent under her weight. She hung on until it reached the ground and she climbed down the doubled over branch and tried to grap the suet. She wasn't fast enough to grap it so the tree snapped back up with the suet flying wildly. But she was persistent and repeated this three times until the suet cage findly flung off the tree and landed in the woods - one more suet cage lost in the creek! What was really funny was a titmouse that was trying to land on the suet as it was bouncing wildly about. The redbud tree has still not recovered from that and now hangs much lower than it ever did. Luckily we have lots of redbuds and honestly it has been worth it to be able to watch her antics from the window. Unfortunately it is just 10 feet from the house and was very pretty in the spring but is a sad sight now.

Hey ZC, think maybe I could get some of that Vietnamese lemon grass and add it to the suet :^), that ought do it!!

I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures, it really has been entertaining for us although I am a little tired of making suet for the raccoons!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 11:38PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Jean, you have given me a marvelous giggle. I used to say if I had a video camera we would have made a fortune. (We had seven families visit each night.) I can give you a solution but it will cost you. But, what doesn't cost these days? It requires a pole in three sections such as those used for purple martin houses. The pole is is sections so the top one will slide into the one below it and that section into the bottom one. It is too thick to bend, is lightweight enough to release the bolt to slide it down and then back up when you want to renew the suet. The secret is that you must coat the lower section of the pole with Crisco at the 4 foot level(5 is better) so momma cannot climb it. Do you see the trap here? You are only exchanging one form of fat for another but at least you get to keep the suet holder and the birds get to have their treat. You also get to see momma AND the babies play on their new toy. Your only other option is to take the holder inside every night. LOL. The little darlings would give Einstein a run for the money. (Another solution would be a baffle halfway up but that gets to be too cumbersome.)Sandy

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 3:27AM
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youreit

Great ideas, Sandy! Hey, maybe you could Crisco the redbud! I can just imagine the looks I'd get from the neighbors if I had to do something like that. LOL

Your description of the titmouse trying to feed had me in tears, Jean! Priceless!

Brenda

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 1:04PM
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jtl60047

Hi Jean -

If you are serious - pick up a used "Scat-Mat" from e-bay.

They are used to help train dogs and cats from jumping up on things.

Wrap the scat-mat around the trunk about 3' off of the ground, plug it in and watch the frustration begin.

The scat-mat provides a "stimulus" just over that of a good static shock. No way to hurt the animal, just enough to make it think real hard about it's next action.

If you thought the cayanne pepper expression was interesting, try the mat.

Very soon she'll give up and move on to an easier target.

I've got a family that owns a bakery that lives down the block that would take ALL of their multi day old bread and lay it out for the raccoons... nothing but trouble.

The coyotes would wait for the raccoons to show up and it'd be a heck of a fight. Hollywood sound effects have nothing on a raccoon vs. coyote sound...

They just moved and now the whole area has some VERY hungry raccoons raiding everything they can.

Good luck - it kinda sounds like you like the visits every once in a while - just not all the time - and certainly not the permanant "borrowing" of the suet rack.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 11:04PM
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bonz(WI)

I'd do everything NOT to get them to leave. Anything that brings a smile to my face would be most welcome, and the pictures you got? Priceless!!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 5:27PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

I tired the crisco once when I had it on a shephards hook but it didn't seem to phase them. I also tried a slinky which helped for awhile until they managed to stretch it out so much that it was no longer affective, and eventually they bent the shephards hook. This winter I was bringing it in when I got home but that just taught mrs. raccoon to come out earlier and besides the birds are still feeding in the evening. I have the feeder on a pole with a raccoon baffle and they can't get to it so I will just have to put up another pole. The raccoon baffle is more of a cylinder so it doesn't get in the way as much as the dome shaped ones. I had put the suet on the feeder pole but the birds were "soiling" it by sitting on the hook above it. I was hoping to avoid putting up another pole but I think that might be cheaper than feeding Mom and babies! The scat mat would probably work but a little more agressive than I care to try. And yes, I have enjoyed watching this smart creature figure out how to get to the suet but I am ready to call "uncle". I don't have to worry that they will leave as they have been here before I started feeding the birds, I think this is the second generation since we moved here - they live in the ravine behind the house. Last year during the drought they were digging in the flower pots on the deck looking for grubs - it was the only dirt soft enough for them to dig in! Pesky animals but incredibly smart.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 11:02AM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Oh I am in so much trouble - there aren't just two babies, there are FIVE!!!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 10:33PM
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youreit

I bet that's what moms of human quintuplets say, too. LOL

Jean, you better keep us posted. Now I'm concerned about your safety. :) FIVE!! YIKES!!

Brenda

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 9:44AM
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ademink(z5a-5b Indianapolis)

Five!? Yowza!!! Those photos are just unreal - your talent is amazing! Brenda girl, you'd better add those 5 baby raccoons to your 3rd World Country fund. LOL!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 11:18PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

That's about the top limit for momma raccoon to manage even with your help. I would recommend dry puppy chow, black sunflower seed and shallow containers of water. You may even have more than one family. They come to eat in family groups and don't mix. Apparently they know each other by smell and they get panic stricken if two groups get mixed up together. LOL That is quite a sight to see. I sincerely hope momma keeps a tight rein on the little darlings. Sandy

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 2:20AM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Well I thought I had found a solution ...

I hung the suet from the gutter, it hangs about 8 feet down and is still 8 feet above the ground and no nearby trees ...
It hangs well below the windows so activity in the kitchen wouldn't bother the birds. I can lean out the window and grap the hook to fill the feeder. At first the birds were trying to land on the branches in the reflections so I put up those static cling stickers. Everyone was happy, I was enjoying watching the young downies, harries, and red-bellieds.

This morning my husband noticed the hook was moving around alot and we looked out and saw this ...

She climbed up the downspout! This is not a raccoon, this is a sloth! My husband scared her away and I thought I was safe until this evening so I put out more suet.

At 3:00 I look out the window and she has returned. But this time she has lost her grip on the downspout and she is swinging from the suet.

I was worried this time. She kept trying to grap the downspout but couldn't get enough swing momentum to get close enough. After eating most of the suet, she dropped the eight feet to the ground and sauntered away.

So now we are going to try and move it away from the downspout. That won't be easy - we installed gutter covers to minimize the leaves so getting another hook up will be tough (the hook I was using before was left there when we had the covers installed and I had a hummingbird feeder on it). The ground is sloped away from the house and getting a ladder up there is going to be an adventure.

The other option is to wrap the gutter in barbed wire but that doesn't sound like a good option, I'm afraid it will not deter her and she will get cut up in her attempts.

I have toyed with the idea of feeding her but I'm not sure that is a good idea either. Opinions? Options?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 5:21PM
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fairy_toadmother

ha! (sorry, jean) that is just priceless! i can see your gutters getting peeled off the roof as we speak.

i personally wouldn't be surprised if they could climb brick. my grams house had some kind of wood facing, not much to it and nearly smooth. it was painted white and embellished with racoon hands 6 feet off the ground!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 3:52AM
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youreit

Jean, I really wish I had a great, never-before-heard-of suggestion, but all I have is praise for your great pics! Even my DH agrees, you should be in the nature photography business!

I sure hope you can find a workable solution soon. How frustrating for you!

Brenda

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 8:58AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Sigh... My house has a very wide overhang and inboard gutters but my raccoons play games on the roof almost every night. Thud thump thump! Last night one fell off the peak and into the pond, tearing the net stretched over it. No injuries but I had to top off the pond because of all the water splashed out. He was joined by his brother who climbed down and they dumped all the plants in the pond so I have the muddiest pond ever now. They ran when I came out but I hate to think what they have learned. Sandy

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 3:16AM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

You all are too kind - I am not that great of a photographer - but I have an interesting subject and a good camera, all I do is press the button. So I am not ready to quit my day job yet!

Sandy, I am sorry but I had to laugh - I can just imagine the fun they were having. So far none on the roof, I guess I should feel lucky about that.

And it doesn't appear that she is getting to the bird feeder which I now have double baffled - one cylinder and one funnel shaped.

Unfortunately there have only been three babies with her the last couple of nights. Maybe it is as Sandy suggested and it was several litters. I did see a coyote running out of the ravine on Sunday night - I hope that's not why she is done to three.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 11:20PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

I am sorry to say that I believe something has happened to the babies. I haven't seen them since June 18th. And Mom hasn't been around much.

This was the last I saw of them ....

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 10:44PM
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fairy_toadmother

well, jeanner, if they moved on that is the perfect pic angle! maybe they switched their schedule like my local coon squad. i have yet to catch them again to see if baby 5 showed back up. :(

however, all the signs of visits, though discreet, are present.

p.s. what cute rumps!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 11:57PM
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youreit

Jean, not sure how big the little guys (and gals) would be after a year, but here's some info from this site -

"After mating has occurred the gestation period for raccoons is 60 to 73 days. Then the females give birth to one to eight cubs, with an average of three or four cubs. At birth the cubs are helpless with closed ears and eyes, but they open after 18 to 24 days. The cubs nurse for a weaning period of 70 days, and the mother still continues to give protection up to one year (Fox, 2001). At this point the yearlings will disperse for up to 75 miles to find their own home ranges. The time that the mother and young spend together represents the most significant bond in raccoon social behavior, but it ends after about one year (Graham, 1997)."

Maybe you already knew all of that! It could be that the young'uns are off on a new life adventure. :)

Brenda

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 10:24AM
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fairy_toadmother

are they back, jeanner? i do not seem to have evidence, though i usually never did, of my coon squad for about a week or more. my water has been clear, no mud on the edge of the "tub" and my squirrel feed is nearly full. i think they moved on so she could keep her babies safe from predators (not much here but instinct is instinct).

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 3:54AM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

You are an amazing photographer. What an eye for detail and angle! Racoons are cute but I don't think I'd want them eating up all my bird food! I'd set up a motion detecting sprayer thingie around the base of the tree! PJ

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 9:19AM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

I've just read sprinklers don't work for you! OH MY! How about some sympathy? If you sold some of those photographs maybe you could hire someone to stand guard! PJ

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 2:26PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

I finally ended up buying another pole system from Wild Birds Unlimited with two baffles. It's been up for a week and so far she hasn't gotten to it. But last night my husband called me to the window and lo and behold there was one baby wandering around cleaning up what the birds had dropped. She made one attempt of climbing the downspout so Mom has taught her well! Mom was nowhere around so apparently they are old enough to wander off by themselves.

pjtexgirl - thanks for the compliments on my photos. I would love to be a wildlife photographer but there are many out there that put me to shame and at my age I know it aint gonna happen!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 8:30PM
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