Friday, May 30, 2008

Raccoons


Usually the order of road kill is as follows: 1. Opossum 2. Raccoons 3. Skunks. Oddly on my round-trip to Seattle last weekend I counted one skunk and one opossum and get this, twenty-three raccoons dead on the road. I saw more dead raccoons than peeled off tire retreads. What is going on in the raccoon world these days?

Raccoons were a big problem on the farm where I worked as a teenager. The farmer I worked for trapped and shot them daily. He understood the animal and its habits very well. He knew they always traveled down a row of corn and never across a row. They have no salivary glands so they have to dip their food in water. He’d easily kill five every day and the supply never seemed to end. They just kept coming.

I was talking about raccoons with some farmers a couple weeks ago. One of them told me something I had never heard before. He was noticing that many of the raccoons he had been trapping only had a short stub for a tail. He went on to say that when there is too large of a population the alpha males will attack young males and bite off their testicles and their tails. Biting the testicles insures there will be no competition for area females, and they bite off the tails as a marker so they don’t have to pick a fight with that altered male again.

By the way, good morning to you all!

14 Comments:

Blogger Donna said...

Last year was the worst raccoon year ever around here. People were shooting them and taking the bodies to the river bottom, where vultures had a feast. One elderly lady was trapping them and turning them loose near the levee.

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a recent drive from Astoria to Spokane I noticed the same thing. Coons and marmots (near Spokane) all over the road. It is my theory that mating delayed is mating intensified, and if you have ever watched those critters chase each other around in the spring you know that looking out for traffic is the last thing on their minds.

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guy,

Thanks for such a lovely blog so early in the a.m. The visual of "biting off one's testicles" goes well with my cup of coffee.

And a good morning to you too :)

8:08 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Now I'm actually looking forward to seeing some raccoons - with stubby tails. I want to be able to deliver that fascinating explanation.

8:50 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Donna and Anon 1, there must be a lot of food for them to be able to support a high population.

Anon 2, Hopefully you weren't having a banana with your coffee.

Beth, leave some dog and cat food outside along with uncovered garbage and you'll better your chances.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

This was a great post to read while eating lunch.

We had two road kill alligators yesterday. Have you ever heard of such?

10:11 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Syd, is your lunch the afore mentioned gators?

11:07 AM  
Blogger weese said...

racoon birth control...love it.

say do you know anything about bobcats. evidently thats our latest visitor.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous g said...

Priceless information Guy.

Definitely a candidate for a link back from the crazy world.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Bpaul said...

Never knew about the testicle biting -- what a trip.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous columbiacontrolfreak said...

A good use for dead coons is chicken feed. Take a 5 gallon buck with a lid. Drill 1/8 holes in the bottom and a few 1/2" holes near the top. Fill it with dead raccoons, or other roadkill, snap a lid down tight on it. Suspend this about a foot high in your chicken run. The flies go in the top holes, lay eggs in the rotting critters, then as the maggots hatch they drop out the bottom holes and your chickens have a feast.

Not recommended for use with a coop near or upwind from your house.

1:24 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

OK CCF you're starting to freak me out. Buy a bag of Layena...

Weese, I've only even seen two of them, and one may have been a short tailed raccoon.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous columbiacontrolfreak said...

Hey, the idea was actually in Backyard Poultry magazine, but the guy was using dead beavers. He never did explain where he was getting a steady source of dead beavers.

As for the uptick in raccooicketycoons. They are suspectible to a form of distemper much like the distemper we vaccinate our dogs for. When the population gets high there is invariably an outbreak and 80% of the population dies off. It takes 3 to 5 yrs in most areas for it to rebuild. That's why we see the numbers vary so widely.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Colonel Panic said...

Ok this is getting wierd. In my back yard tonite I found a fking racoon tail. Looked like it had been removed nutsack and all. (nuts were gone).

Dam straight. That was a helpful tip I received here.

8:57 PM  

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