The Suitcase Lady


June 10, 2009, 12:26 am

The babies arrived last week, and they’re adorable. Our neighborhood raccoon moms brought their offspring to The Tooley Cafe for a debut visit. We looked out one night to see an explosion of raccoons… four adults and eight little ones.

By the time the mothers bring their babies out into the world, the kids are well-rounded furballs with miniature masks and ringed tails. Only a curmudgeon could resist their charm.

Raccoons have only one litter a year. Mating time is from the last week in January to the middle of March. The gestation period is 63 to 65 days. Litters range from two to seven with an average birth weight of three ounces. The new-born’s eyes are closed for about 20 days. By the time we get to see the new family members they weight about three or four pounds.

Raccoons are gregarious, looking for food with their family group. The scene in our yard the other night beat anything “Animal Planet” could produce in terms of entertainment value. One raccoon was draped across the roof of the house-shaped bird feeder scooping out seeds. Another was hanging upside down on the tube feeder busily pulling out seeds through the cage. Some of the youngsters were swinging wildly in the tray feeder while they stuffed themselves. The table feeder on the ground was filled with kids sitting on it and chowing down. Everyone else was milling around on the ground bumping into each other as they scavenged for fallen seeds.

While this feeding frenzy was going on, I spotted a skunk walking through the woods behind the feeders. Although he is a frequent diner at the Cafe, he apparently chose not to enter the fray.

At this time of year we like to say “it’s raining raccoons.” At any loud noise or intrusion, all the baby coons scramble up into the pine trees. Since their climbing skills aren’t completely honed yet, we can hear them plopping and falling out of the trees when they begin the trip down.

My husband keeps the bird feeders well supplied with oiled sunflower seeds, the Cadillac of wildlife food. On the way home from the farm store last week, he had to have the convertible top down in his little two-seater car. The seed bags were stacked too high to fit any other way.

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