They’re as much at home in this city as you or I. Once they confined their ramblings to the night. No more. They’ve claimed their territory and wander it freely. The urban landscape has become, most definitely, their Raccoon City.
One little critter showed up on a pleasant afternoon, wandered about the yard unperturbed by my presence, investigated the shrubs and garden. Then finally, having explored enough, trundled up the garden path to the gate leading to the street. Climbing over, he slid to the ground and ambled off up the street through the neighbourhood.
Though previously thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behaviour. Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four animals to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season, and other potential invaders… After a gestation period of about 65 days, two to five young, known as “kits”, are born in spring. The kits are subsequently raised by their mother until dispersal in late fall. Although captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years, their life expectancy in the wild is only 1.8 to 3.1 years. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raccoon
Some days later I saw him again, alone. This time the weather was more inclement, a light drizzle. The young raccoon climbed up into the crook of a tree and fell asleep.
Perhaps this was my first sign that something was not quite right with this juvenile. Traveling alone for such a young raccoon seemed unusual. And climbing a tree, sleeping in the poor weather was not a healthy sign. For I knew he had a burrow under the deck, as I had seen him disappear under there before. This would certainly have offered protection from the rain.
I had read that raccoons were susceptible to disease, primarily distemper.
Raccoons can carry rabies, a lethal disease caused by the neurotropic rabies virus carried in the saliva and transmitted by bites. … Among the main symptoms for rabies in raccoons are a generally sickly appearance, impaired mobility, abnormal vocalization, and aggressiveness. There may be no visible signs at all, however, and most individuals do not show the aggressive behaviour seen in infected canids; rabid raccoons will often retire to their dens instead… Unlike rabies and at least a dozen other pathogens carried by raccoons, distemper, an epizootic virus, does not affect humans. This disease is the most frequent natural cause of death in the North American raccoon population and affects individuals of all age groups. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raccoon
Later that day he left the tree, and disappeared. I never saw him again.