If you try to take on the adventure, good luck
June 8, 2018 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Raccoons are cute, but raising one up can be more work and worry than you might think. Here's one man's blunt assessment of his first year of fostering Tito: https://youtu.be/JQ66M5houqw [SLYT] Includes ear bites, sewer rescues, and selfie-stick video.

Also, Tito can't leave trouble alone: Tito Meets a Hedgehog
posted by wenestvedt (24 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My dad grew up in the carriage house of a mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, MN, in the 1940s. He had a crew cut, and took his pet raccoon Joe for walks on a leash down Summit Ave. Finding a snapshot of that is a life goal for me.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:37 AM on June 8, 2018 [12 favorites]

Obligatory link to the Wikipedia entry on Rebecca (raccoon) Coolidge, sent to the President and First Lady by the state of MS to be a thanksgiving meal but who ended up a pet.

I follow Pumpkin the raccoon on instagram and frequently wonder what the behind the scenes of her very clean glamorous-looking life actually look like. . . this confirms all of my suspicions.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:44 AM on June 8, 2018 [6 favorites]

sent to the President and First Lady by the state of MS to be a thanksgiving meal but who ended up a pet

wait, raccoons were served for thanksgiving dinner in the 20's?
posted by Dr. Twist at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

Not in the Coolidge White House, apparently.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:59 AM on June 8, 2018 [9 favorites]

Rascal is by far the best pet raccoon.
posted by Grandysaur at 10:14 AM on June 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

Don't know about the White House, but The Joy of Cooking has this recipe (warning, illustrations of how to prepare game)
posted by zippy at 10:42 AM on June 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

I didn't make it through the whole thing but the 3/4s I did hear... you could pretty much say about raising any animal, including dogs and humans.

I had a pet raccoon in the 70s named Rasputin. I wouldn't recommend it, but can't really say if it's because they're pure evil or because I was seven and didn't have the training skills I have now as a life long dog owner.

Pretty sure the best raccoon is Pumpkin.
posted by dobbs at 10:44 AM on June 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

wait, raccoons were served for thanksgiving dinner in the 20's?

They used to be (and may still be) considered a holiday treat in some rural Southern areas of the United States. An American Legion post in Delafield, WI holds an annual "Coon Feed" fund raiser every January. This years was they're 92nd. Around 350 meals are served to Legion members and visitors during the event, most of them raccoon meat dishes.

There's a concern with raccoons that they might be carrying rabies, which can be transmitted to humans if they eat infected meat. Plus they live on human trash and waste. So they're eaten less frequently than they used to be.

They're also a very fatty animal, so before the meat can be prepared most cooks will strip out as much fat as they can. Which is a bit time consuming.
posted by zarq at 11:09 AM on June 8, 2018

A friend of mine told me about her raccoon experience in college. She was living off campus with a few people her age, mostly “stoners and bums” as she described it. Prior to her moving in, one had found and raised a raccoon. It had since returned to the “wild” but would often come to and in the house hanging out because hooomans have food.

This raccoon was also apparently mean as shit. But as long as you weren’t directly interfering with its access to food or interrupting whatever it decided to destroy right then, you were fine. The only person it seemed to pay any mind to was it’s hoooman dad, and even then, the relationship was tenuous.

There were always people coming and going. And the transient guests loved the raccoon, inspite of its asshole personality. Perhaps because of its asshole personality. But also because he could put on a “I’m just a cute sad, starving animal” act worthy of an oscar. Until you fed him, then he became the asshole raccoon and you forfeited any right to your food then going forward.

And there were parties, and parties meant food, so the raccoon would come around to the house during parties, being fed snacks and alcohol and generally having a grand old, belligerent time. Everyone loved him; how could you not? She describes this fat, angry beast hunkered down on the snack table with an orange fist clenching a Cheeto just happily munching away. (She also swears he would be hung over the next day. And these were the only nights he stayed the night as opposed to returning to wherever he liked to fuck off to in the wild. Maybe he knew better than to drink and climb?)

This raccoon, being the hit of the party, eventually started to go with raccoon dad to other parties. He learned pretty quickly that if dad was leaving on a Friday or Saturday, the party (and the food) was going to be elsewhere. He would come scurrying out of seemingly nowhere and hop in the pickup truck with raccoon dad.

Now again, being students and stoners, money was tight. The aforementioned pickup truck was the property of one of the housemates, but was used as the house’s shared vehicle. Anyone could use it, as long as they weren’t assholes and made sure everyone had a ride.

So one Friday rolls around, and everyone has left for a party but my friend. She hung behind to finish some school work up, while everyone else got a ride, leaving her the pickup to join them later. Being in the middle of summer in the South, the windows are down so the truck, without working ac, won’t boil it’s occupants alive upon entering. She gets in the truck, and hears a *thud* followed by scrambling, and looks over to see little raccoon fingers clinging to the door frame. Like some horror film, she describes the fat, angry 50lbs beast laboring to pull itself into the car. She freezes, because while she’s knows the raccoon, she doesn’t usually interact with him on a personal level, and not without others around. She isn’t sure what he’s going to do.

Eventually the obese animal pulls himself into the car, and plops himself on to the passenger seat. They sat there, staring at one another. Not knowing what else to do, she asks “Left behind, huh?” The raccoon growls at her, then turns facing forward.

So she starts the truck, and heads to the party. The raccoon just sits there the whole way in silence. And when they arrive, it uncerimoniously crawls out the window and ambles into the party ahead of her.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:20 AM on June 8, 2018 [199 favorites]

Rascal is by far the best pet raccoon.

Japan agrees! Or, rather, agreed, past tense, until everyone set their Rascal-inspired pet raccoons free, just like in the book. Now raccoons are a HUGELY destructive invasive species in Japan.

Raccoons are not pets, and do not make good pets. Super bad idea out of their natural range for the above reason, and in their range, still pretty stupid and potentially illegal to boot. Short of licensed wild animal rescues, it’s 100% illegal ’round these parts to keep any local fauna as pets; YMMV.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:13 PM on June 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

Trash Pandas
posted by bwvol at 12:59 PM on June 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

Related: garage raccoon (reddit)
posted by chaoticgood at 1:36 PM on June 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

The wife of the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada also records eating raccoon.

I believe the raccoons of Toronto have never forgotten it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:33 PM on June 8, 2018

Would that be Lieutenant-Governor Cyril Sneer?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:51 PM on June 8, 2018

wait, raccoons were served for thanksgiving dinner in the 20's?

Opssum was regular cafeteria fare in D.C. through the 1930s, so this doesn't surprise me.
posted by ryanshepard at 4:02 PM on June 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

One evening, my wife and I returned home to find a pair of raccoons vigorously attempting to, well, create more raccoons -- while perched on the peak of the roof of our garage.

They paused mid-coitus, briefly staring into the the glare of our headlights as if to say, "A little privacy, buddy?!"

Our next-door neighbor had it worse, though; while our garage roof was apparently the raccoons' boudoir, her garage roof was their bathroom....
posted by retronic at 4:54 PM on June 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a very chubby raccoon in my neighborhood who stops by my back porch every so often to grab cat food. My cats are surprisingly chill when he’s around - they must have some sort of gentleman’s agreement.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:59 PM on June 8, 2018

When I was a kid in western PA in the early 60s a small tornado destroyed the vacant lot next to our home. My father heard pleading sounds and ventured out in the scary darkness afterward, returning with two wee kits whose mother and a sibling had been killed when their tree came down in the storm.

My mother contacted the Pittsburgh Zoo for information and patiently hand-reared the babies, whose eyes had not yet opened. Hans and Fritz slept in a box in the living room. When they began to climb curtains my father built them a shelter outdoors. Hans was cuddly and enjoyed riding about in the basket of my bicycle; Fritz could be more ornery, and delivered one savage bite to my sister which left scars.

In more recent years when I asked my sister why Fritz became angry enough to do that, she confessed that it had been her fault. “I was brushing his tail,” she explained, “to put a bow on it.”

The things I most recall about them now, decades later, was their smell, which I loved—clean and wild, and their hands. The sensation of squeezing their soft, sensitive, elegant grey palms is still vivid to me, along with their smooth claws and inquisitive toe pads. Having one’s finger grasped by a cat’s paw is similar but yet not the same. I miss the feeling of shaking hands with a raccoon.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:36 AM on June 9, 2018 [21 favorites]

I used to want a raccoon as a pet when i was a kid - what kid doesn't want a cute baby raccoon as a pet? The ones on TV (they often had walk-on parts on shows like Flipper or Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom) were always semi-intelligent, and if they were animated, they could talk.

When my parents moved us out of the Bronx and into the wilds of New Jersey there was a kid down the street who actually did have a pet raccoon. He used to walk it around on a chain leash. It was the meanest, most frightening and non-cute critter I had ever seen outside of a zoo. It was the size of an obese medium dog. If you were not his "owner" it simply strained against its chain and snarled at you, growling and snorting and aching to bite you. The coon lived in a rebar and chain link cage worthy of Guantanamo. We used to catch carp and sunfish in the nearby swamp (from which said coon had been "liberated") and bring them to the coon cage to feed the beast for lunch. It was one of the most violent and savage sights I ever seen: a snarling, raging carnivore shredding a live fish while daring any of us to just try stealing his sushi away.

The kid who owned him now gives nature talks to school kids.
posted by zaelic at 5:25 AM on June 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

My parents raised a raccoon before they had me and I turned out okay
posted by grobstein at 9:09 PM on June 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

grobstein: ...I turned out okay.

[citation needed]

Just kidding, I am sure you have great night vision, are good with locks, and wash your food thoroughly before you eat it. The perfect son!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:44 AM on June 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Raccoons are super cute, hilarious, smart, and fun to watch. Unfortunately, when they hit adolescence they also turn into bastards. THOSE HANDS, THOUGH.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 8:38 AM on June 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

When I was a kid, we'd rent a cabin at the Lake Taconic state park for a week during the summer, and the raccoons knew just how to deal with us. They'd send out the baby raccoons to bumble around and entertain us just within light of the campfire, while the adults got into the trash cans.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:33 AM on June 11, 2018

Honestly, listening to him describe how they are cute and fun when little but then start to assert their true asshole personalities after three months made me think he was describing kids hitting adolescence.

Not a parent.

It's true though.

posted by blurker at 9:49 AM on June 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

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