Sometimes when you think of someone, certain images or memories are front and center. A family friend passed away and it's heart-breaking. My thoughts are with his family, but I am lucky and able to remember good times in this difficult season. When I think fondly of him, I see his genuine smile and laugh, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, the outdoors, but most of all, I think of raccoons. Whether he was trapping them or raising one as a pet... or the image I can imagine of him outside a cabin, in the snow, wearing a raccoon tail hat and smirking... I think of raccoons when I think of Vern.
Raccoons are native to North America, but during the 20th century they were introduced to other places around the globe and are common in Germany, Russia, France and Japan. They can also be found in the northern part of South America and the Caribbean Islands.
Raccoons are omnivores, and adapt easily to their surroundings, allowing them to move into suburban and urban areas. They are good swimmers and can run at speeds up to 15 miles an hour. Weighing 14-23 pounds and measuring 24-38 inches in length, with the males generally being larger than females.
In the wild, a raccoon's life expectancy is 2-3 years, but they can live up to 20 years in captivity. They are very vocal; they can hiss, growl, snarl, whistle, scream and chatter. Raccoons are nocturnal, and though they are not considered hibernators, they can sleep in their dens for weeks during the coldest part of winter.
They are curious and I love watching them whenever I get the chance. We used to leave some eggs and snacks near a bowl of water to watch them neatly wash and eat their food and wash their hands after they were finished. Though we always knew to keep our distance as my dad always said a mother raccoon was more dangerous than anything.
Have you noticed raccoons around? Have you watched them amble along, apparently unfazed by the fact you were watching? Do you think they are cute or do they seem scary to you?