gor[b] Paul Gorbould: Words and Pictures


Procyon horribilis

Last night we had an intruder. Again.

My neighbourhood is beset – plagued, I tell you! – by raccoons.

Not the cute little Timothy Goes to School raccoons my kids think are so lovely. Not the trilling, big-bummed fuzzballs my sister finds endearing. No, these are hurricane-grade destructive brutes.

Like any good Toronto citizen, I diligently use our green bin for compostable waste – banana peels, coffee grinds, nasty diapers. I bag it neatly and tie the bags off, and put them in the green bin until Friday.

Or, until 2:00 a.m., nightly. Because that's when these marauders come to disassemble my house. They knock over garbage cans, chew on the woodwork, and make short work of these "raccoon-proof" bins.

So this week I've been extra-diligent. I bought a brand new green bin (the old one had been attacked too often.) The clasp on this new bin is so tight I can barely close it without a hammer, and I need the jaws of life to open it. I even washed it down, and sprayed it with Lysol. Once the compost bags were in, I affixed three bungee cords over the lid. Then I put a 30 lb concrete patio stone on the top.

2:00 a.m.: CRASH. I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Outside was a raccoon the size of a Shetland pony. He didn't just knock over the patio stone, he cast it down and smote it.

He then began dragging the bin down our alley (my wife, now awake, thought he might be dragging it to the curb to atone for previous sins.)

I managed to chase the thing off (and take a few pictures – he owes me at least a blog entry), but it came back later and finished the deal. Cujo managed to get out all the tasty stuff, then flung the nasty diapers all around just for fun. The patio stone was damaged, and somehow the three bungee cords were still attached.

I'm defeated. These raccoons are smart (Harvard '04) and strong (I think they've been eating my neighbour's expired creatine packages). I once saw a pair of raccoons working as a team to open the garbage bin outside a KFC outlet in the Beach. I kid you not – one would sit on the top and hold the spring-activated door open, while the other climbed in to retrieve the food. Astonishing.

There's supposedly some "raccoon proof" clasp that you can buy to attach to the formerly "raccoon proof" bins, but I can't imagine it'll stop them for long. In fact, I suspect the raccoons are behind the whole scam (and I saw Tom Jakobek taking a raccoon kit to a Leafs game last year.)

(When she reads this, my sister is likely to lay another "can't fight nature" zinger on me, and suggest that I simply move my house. But her mind was poisoned during prepubescence by reading Frosty: A Raccoon to Remember too often.)

Or maybe the raccoon will just post a blog comment himself.

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  1. Ok (LOL) that is my favorite use of Photoshop yet! HA! Harvard graduate indeed. And, I am totally, totally on side with you. I am SO happy we are through the diaper phase because those racoons on the East end of TO have some pretty serious cousins in the gang that harasses us here on the West end. Bungee cords don’t work, and I can’t open the freakin’ locks on those bins without breaking two nails, but our friends with the little black gloves seem to have no problems. Forget Shetland Pony, I swear those things have about 10 pounds on me. Horrible huge evil thieving bastards (sorry Alli!). Plus, I have outdoor cats, so it won’t be long I am sure before I find the remnants of a feline feast… one where my cats were invited and then were never heard from again.

  2. No more complaining allowed until you try the little buckle that you affix with two screws, one to the lid, one to the body of the bin. After months of early-morning wadings through the slimy remains of soggy Rice Krispies and carrot peels, we thought we’d give the buckle a try (well, the choice was easy. A guy came by our house with a retro-fitted compost bin and traded us for our bin and 15 bucks). But it works! So off you go to your local hardware store.

    WARNING: The raccoons will become more desperate, so they will certainly renew their attacks on your regular garbage cans if you put anything even remotely resembling organic matter in them.


  3. “He didn’t just knock over the patio stone, he cast it down and smote it.”


    I will TOTALLY admit that the only reason I love raccoons is that I don’t have any. Just like other people’s children, other people’s raccoons are a joy.

    I also have had an unhealthy fascination with garbage bins for the last year (eucan megabis – see http://www.publicspace.ca) so I feel a sort of affinity.

  4. I take it your children will never play Sly Cooper… ever.

    And that scene in the Great Outdoors with the raccoons will be purged from any copy of the movie that come into your possession.

    Not fearing the reaper, but I do fear the possums.

  5. Dave Barry said that if mankind ever really wants to get serious about space travel, we just have to convince the raccoons that there is food on Jupiter.

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