Sunday, March 8, 2015

Two Daytime Mammals

I've been out of town for the past several days, and Paul took over the wildlife observation around the house while I was gone. He did some great documentary work with his iPhone, recording two interesting mammals that wandered into the yard outside his office window! (All pictures and videos in this post are courtesy of Paul.)

This Virginia Opossum showed up yesterday afternoon, just a few hours before I got home; so I didn't get to see the creature itself, although I did see the tracks it left as it traversed all areas of the yard (presumably looking for food):

It looks like those short legs aren't a lot of help when walking through the melting snow (IT'S HAPPENING!):

I'm sad that I missed the opossum's visit; I love its cute little face, and I don't know when I'll next see one out in the daytime.

I'm not upset, however, that I was away when this other mammal stopped by on Wednesday. This is the first Raccoon we've seen here, but it was not exactly a happy sighting:

This guy was exhibiting some very odd behavior, beyond just an apparent search for food that probably also brought the opossum out in the daytime. I suppose it's possible that this wandering and scrabbling behavior at our porch door (with Paul moving around right on the other side of the glass) could come from a familiarity with people and houses; who knows, maybe someone in the neighborhood feeds this creature. But after reading a bit about signs of disease in Raccoons, I think it's likely that this guy was sick. This video is kind of sad to watch, but here you go:

(Don't mind the dropped sunflower seeds all over the ground. Now that the snow's melting (!!!) we'll sweep those away soon.)

The Humane Society (more info here) lists some behaviors to watch out for in Raccoons, because these things could mean the animal's sick (possibly even with rabies):
    • Staggering gait
    • An animal seemingly oblivious to noise or nearby movement
    • Erratic wandering
    • Discharge from eyes or mouth
    • Wet and matted hair on face
    • Repeated high-pitch vocalization
    • Self-mutilation
The first three things seem to apply to this creature. Thank goodness it wasn't exhibiting the last two behaviors, because that would have been terrifying.

Now that we know these things, we'll keep an eye out for this Raccoon; if it returns and still seems sick (especially if it's showing additional signs of illness), we'll call animal control. I'm hoping that either (1) it was just hungry and has since found some food, or (2) it was sick and has since died so it's no longer in distress and/or a danger to other animals or people. Don't worry, we'll be careful.

It's too bad nature can't always be happy. Here's hoping these two wandering mammals have found whatever they needed.


  1. I live in rural NW Ohio. As the temperatures warm and the snow pack melts, our yard has become a freeway for wildlife. Over the winter we have been feeding several feral cats and providing a place where they can stay warm. Well, in the last 48 hours, black squirrels, a possum, and a raccoon and her young have discovered the cat food. Time to feed the cats during the day and put the food away at night.

    1. Yes, I guess it's just going to just get more and more busy out there now! And I didn't realize it was time for raccoons to be having babies already. Cool!

    2. I was surprised to see the young coons. Late birth last fall? The most hilarious moment came when one young feral cat came out of the bushes and jumped at the female coon. I think the cat wanted to play with the big kitty cat. :) knowing how that was going to turn out, I chased off the coon.