It was the rudest of awakenings, hearing the screen of our bedroom window—our third floor bedroom window—being rattled violently in the middle of the night. I leapt out of bed and raced over, fearing one of our cats—Bonnie Agnes or Boots Louise—was nudging the screen loose and might soon be falling three stories.
Sure enough, I found a spread-eagled shadow between the window pane and the screen. In my sleep-addled state I thought it was Boots, our little, gray tabby. But when I turned on the nearby lamp, it was not Boo-Lou.
Not Boo-Lou at all.
An exceedingly chubby raccoon filled the entire window. A coon with a tail almost as big as my arm.
With uncharacteristic calm, I reached out and shoved the window closed. Then I yelled.
“Tony, get your gun. A dang raccoon’s in here.”
Tony Bear, accustomed to my occasionally over-the–top reactions, remained snugly nestled under the covers.
I repeated my request, a little louder this time, a wee bit more shrill.
“Now, Sunshine,” Tony said calmly. “You know the rule. No firing guns inside the house.”
I returned to the window where I found the screen dangling from the frame by one corner. Rocky Raccoon was gone.
Unfortunately, so was Boots Louise.
Despite the fact Rocky had crept up the stairs and across our bedroom floor, Bonnie Agnes hadn’t stirred from her curled up spot at the end of our bed. But where was Bootsie-Lou? I searched every room, calling her name, to no avail.
“Do something,” I begged Tony. “It’s pouring down rain and for all we know, that humongous raccoon might be hunting her.”
Downstairs, Tony Bear slipped on his work boots and took the umbrella and flashlight I handed him. A half hour later he came back, dripping wet, without our gray tabby.
“But what if Rocky Raccoon is devouring Boots this very minute? Slicing and dicing her with his raptor-like claws?”
“Chances are,” Tony said as we headed upstairs, “if that thing’s as big as you claim, she can outrun him. I’ll look again in the morning.”
As we climbed the final steps to our bedroom, Boots slunk out from beneath our bed, her pupils huge and her tail fully puffed. Likely, upon Rocky’s arrival, she’d hidden under our bed where he was too fat to fit.
Skip ahead to one week later when Tony-Bear was away at a football scrimmage. At 5:24 a.m, I jerked awake when I heard a crash, then a clatter.
“Are you stinking kidding me? That dang Rocky came back!”
No doubt he was in the kitchen rolling the cat food container across the floor, hoping to make it pop open like he did on his previous invasion.
I tiptoed downstairs to Junior-Man’s room. “Rocky’s back. Get up.”
My son stumbled sleepily into the hall, his hunting knife in hand. As I headed toward the stairs, he stepped in front of me. “Let me go first.”
Below me on the landing, Junior Man paused. He pointed over the railing toward the dining room. “He’s right there,” he mouthed. “I shoulda grabbed my blow gun and darts.”
“Run down and crack both doors,” I whispered. “Use the hold-open thingy on the screen door, then come back.”
Moments later, Rocky waddled through the foyer and outside onto the porch. Junior Man hurried to shut the doors.
“Man, he’s fat,” my son noted. “Fat on our cats’ food.”
The following Sunday, Rocky returned yet again while we were at brunch. So much for raccoons being nocturnal.
Prior to this visit, we’d contacted Mike the Critter Gitter, who’d discovered Rocky’s point of entry: a chimney without a cap.
Unfortunately, the replacement cap he ordered had not yet arrived. Until then, I kept the bedroom door with the cap-less chimney shut, with our triple-slot laundry sorter in front, to strengthen the barricade.
Suffice it to say, Rocky was not a fan of enclosed spaces. Once he discovered he could no longer roam freely through our house—helping himself to our cat food and leaving his slimy poop calling card in our basement—he trashed the guest bedroom instead.
Yards and yards of plastic drop-cloth, Tony Bear’s temporary stop-gap measure inside the chimney, had been strewn angrily about the room. Most every surface, including both windows, was decorated with Rocky’s muddy, yet oddly elegant, pawprints. He even managed to yank down a window treatment.
After thoroughly leaving his mark on the room, Rocky exited via the chimney, never to return.
We learned some valuable lessons from Rocky Raccoon about what to do when a raccoon gets in your house:
- Cap your chimneys.
- If someone or something invades your home once, don’t assume he/it will not come back.
- Facebook is a great resource for emotional support—My friends were very responsive to my Rocky Raccoon updates—and for crowdsourcing solutions. One person loaned us a Havahart trap and multiple folks on our neighborhood Facebook wall recommended Mike the Critter Gitter.
- Keep your pets vaccinated. Mike shared multiple stories of rabid raccoons he’d encountered inside people’s homes. If Rocky had attacked either… I don’t even want to think about it.
- I’m braver than I thought and I react well under pressure. Too bad I’m too old to enlist.
- When life gives you raccoons, write a song about it. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you my cell phone recording of “Tiny, Nimble Hands.” The voice you hear in the background? That’s Bootsie Lou. She decided to sing back-up.