Brian lives in St. Petersburg, Florida with his Fiance, Melanie, their two cats and whatever other wildlife finds its way in. Following his nanny’s advice, Brian decided to “use his words” and start a blog.
Brian’s friends, family and coworkers are ever so pleased that he found an outlet for his smart-assedness You can find it at http://mooggeek.wordpress.com You can also follow him on Twitter @mooggeek You are on the Twitter aren’t you?
“Buy a house,” they said. “You can do whatever you want to it.” It’s a great investment.” My fiance, Melanie and I didn’t notice at the time but “they” were all home-owners.
Since we bought our house we’ve had to have it tented for termites, had a possum die in our crawl space, had an ant infestation in our kitchen, had a water leak under the house that destroyed our hardwood floors in two rooms. We’ve also had to replace or repair almost every appliance and had no landlord to worry about/pay for all of it.
“They,” said “It’s all part of being a homeowner.” I guess they just wanted to trauma-bond with us. Misery loves company.
This chapter of home ownership begins with me relaxing, minding my own business when I saw through the window, a large cat climbing down the our front porch trellis.
My thought process went something like “Wow, that’s a big cat…I didn’t know they can climb like that…that is a really, really big cat…that cat has a big tail, I’ve never seen one with stripes…that cat looks kinda like a raccoon.”
Being the fear-no-nature bad-ass I am, I grabbed the first random potential weapon I saw on my way to the front door.
I stepped out fearlessly and feebly threw a soft-n-chewy granola bar at it. By the time I conceived and executed this daring plan, the raccoon was half way down the block.
The chewy chocolate chip menace I posed didn’t even register with her.
“Yeah you better run! Next time you wont be so lucky. Butter-Cream Yankee Candle IN YOUR FACE!”
I figured it was a one time thing. I saw raccoons around the neighborhood wandering around. The raccoon was probably just using our roof to get wherever it needed to be…probably a raccoon party far away.
credit: Christine Karron from fineartamerica.com
As the days went on, the raccoon made a second, third and fourth appearance. Melanie got to see it for herself and my raccoon party denial faded.
A short time later our cats started acting strangely. They stood next to each other in the kitchen staring up at the wall, stalking and waiting. We knew that was a sign we should start freaking out, as it meant there was something in the wall they wanted to eat.
Once nighttime came we started hearing a noise. It was a chittering coming from the wall, a high pitched squealing that lasted all night.
It was the kind of noise they probably used to break down prisoners at Gitmo.
There are no animal control reviews on Yelp, no UrbanSpoon to find people who deal with wall noises. You have to do a Google search and hope for the best.
We picked a place called Animal Police* because their website created the illusion of competence.
*Names have been changed to protect us from the bat-shit insane
This is NOT Elmer.
The Animal Police arrived. I forgot his name so let’s call him Elmer.
We found Elmer’s special brand of redneck confidence comforting. He wore a shirt that said “Welcome to Florida” with a drawing of Florida made to look like a gun. He seemed like the kind of guy who would say things like “I work hard and I play harder. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
He went up into the attic and came back down a few minutes later. He showed us a picture on his phone of a raccoon in the corner of our attic.
“You went up there empty handed? What do you if it attacks you?” asked Melanie.
“Oh, I’m not empty handed. I got my gun with me. I’d have to shoot her.” Elmer replied
Great, one funny twitch from this raccoon and hot head would start raining from above. Awesome!
I eyeballed the ceiling and wondered how its structural integrity would stand up to live rounds. I figured it may be better for us to hide under the bed with the cats while Elmer was in the building.
Apparently the mother made a nest in a corner of the attic, and a bathroom in the other corner. Double awesome!
Elmer tried to listen at the wall but heard nothing so Melanie pointed to where she heard the noise.
Elmer went to his truck and came back with a saw that looked like a cross between a steak knife and a prison shank. He stabbed it through our drywall and sawed away at it. This seemed wrong to me. I figured there must be a drywall removal procedure for rodent retrieval but I didn’t figure this was it.
I just thought it would be less like shanking Otis in the chow hall because he stole your honey-bun.
Elmer reached into our wall and pulled out a baby raccoon. You might imagine an adorable little furball, it wasn’t. It looked more like a grey fuzzy salamander or Eraserhead’s baby.
Okay, it looks cuter today than it did a year ago. Time + tragedy = adorable!
Melanie had an inspired idea, “Why don’t you use the baby as bait?”
Brilliant! Set a cage trap, set the baby inside, mamma would come to get her baby and WHAM! An easy, simple solution. His eyes lit up and he went to work.
To this day, I don’t understand what happened next. I surrendered to the lack of logic about to unveil itself and had faith that Elmer’s master plan would rid us of our raccoon problem.
He took the baby outside and placed it at the base of a tree, and then hid around the corner to watch.
The baby squealed for about a minute which caused Mamma to appear. She cautiously approached, clamped her jaws on the back of her baby’s neck and started to walk away. At that moment Elmer leaped into action, stick in hand, and chased them around the back of the house and out of sight.
Elmer returned a minute later and all he could muster was “Wow, did you see that? That was so cool”
“Where did the mamma go?” asked Melanie
“Oh, I don’t know, I guess she ran off. She wont be back” said Elmer
Mother and child reunion.
His answer was vague and unsure and his stick wielding skills left a lot to be desired. I hoped he’d say something more along the lines of “I guided them into a cage with this stick like a conductor guiding an orchestra,” but come to think of it, no conductor chases his orchestra around the concert hall. A conductor certainly doesn’t pull out a gun if the orchestra is out of tune.
Elmer clearly misunderstood Melanie’s idea.
He temporarily closed the hole in our kitchen wall, promised to come back to permanently repair things, and left a cage trap “Just in case she comes back. But she’s spooked now so she wont come back.“She came back.
Clearly she was a crazed weirdo who found her way back to our attic, brought her baby with her and promptly dropped her baby back down into the wall.
Meth addicts are less negligent parents than this crazy bitch.
Luckily we had crazy on our side too. We called Elmer (because we already paid him) and told him she returned. Elmer came out the next day, once again removed the baby, and once again left the baby by a tree. This time mamma didn’t come to the rescue.
After Mamma didn’t return, Elmer said he would take the baby to his large wooded property and release it once it was big enough to make it on its own. I took this as code for “I’m going to take it, snap it’s neck and throw it in the dumpster on my way to my next job.”
To his credit, however, judging by the pictures he put on his website, he actually did take care of it. I shouldn’t have doubted him, as most people in Florida have large property to release wildlife, or they know someone who does.
It’s the circle of life.
I should point out that whenever Elmer came out, the baby raccoons shut the hell up, like they knew he had a gun.. He only cut open the walls where he did because we told him where to cut. However, the screeching in the wall came back and the noises were almost constantly throughout the night and intermittently during the day. If you listened close enough you could hear the baby raccoons singing “Hello my baby, hello my darlin’, hello my rag-time gal.“
It became clear to us that Mamma had several babies she dropped down our wall, one by one. I was at work so Melanie dealt with Elmer this time. When I got home there were a series of holes in our kitchen wall. Mamma raccoon changed her drop-point and Elmer had a harder time finding it…and getting to it.
This time it involved using a crow-bar to pry the studs in the corner of the wall into a position where he could reach. Melanie held the crowbar while he tried several times to get a grip on the baby and pull it out.As for the studs, the words “load bearing” didn’t come up so I didn’t worry about it.
All in all it’s just another hole in our wall.
Elmer put the second baby in a Styrofoam cup; the kind you would see in some of the better zoos, and placed it in his PETA approved safe transport cup holder.
Once again we heard that terrible sleep-depriving noise and realized another baby raccoon was freaking out somewhere. It sounded fainter and we had a hard time locating it. I started to think it was nothing and the sound of baby raccoon cries were just burnt into our heads.
It was then that I looked out the window and saw something hanging from under the eaves. I went out to investigate and found the third baby raccoon hanging from a flap of screen Mamma tore up to get inside.
It was hanging there by one paw or claw or talon, whatever it is that raccoons have, and it was freaking out, screeching up a storm. I wasn’t sure what to do as I’m not a professional with either a gun or stick.
I knew I had to get it down and take it somewhere to do something…I dunno…raccoon party?I went inside to get a step ladder. I looked back before I stepped through the door and saw Mamma on the roof, approaching her baby.
Being the bad-ass I am, I slammed the door, locked it and went back to the kitchen window to see how it played out, from a safe distance.Mamma grabbed her baby, climbed down our wall, walked right past Elmer’s trap and out of our lives forever.
Our week-long struggle was over.
Elmer replaced the tissue paper that passed for screening under our eaves with something more like tight cropped chicken wire. My idea of replacing it with electrified razor-wire turned out to be impractical and illegal, even in Florida.
- Mother climbs down our wall with baby. Now that you know that raccoons can climb walls, live in terror.
In the aftermath we had our old insulation pulled out, the attic cleaned and disinfected and new insulation installed. That was all pretty uneventful…except when our handyman’s helper put his foot through our ceiling. No biggie, just another hole in our house.
I guess what we learned is a raccoon cannot be removed by skill and careful trapping, you need to be really annoying and abduct it’s young.
You have to out-pest the pest.