The past few nights I’ve heard noises from inside the walls. At first I thought that it was the wind, or maybe a squirrel on the roof, or maybe just the creaks and groans of a 100-year-old house. And last night I was terrified as it sounded like something was clawing through the plaster walls, right into my bedroom.
I did what you should never do if you want to approach a situation rationally. I Googled.
And there were stories of people who didn’t think the problem was serious, waited too long, and then had to deal with decomposing animals in their walls. So I Googled some more. And found a humane animal removal service, locally owned, who focused on relocation.
I called first thing this morning and they had just had a cancellation for this afternoon. He would be here at 3 pm to investigate.
We walked into the attic and he noted, “Wow, there’s a lot of room for storage up here.” (I didn’t tell him that attics freak me out so I’d never actually been up there.) He poked around, but couldn’t find anything (which I supposed was good?). We went into the basement and he again noted, “There’s a lot of room for storage down here.” (Again I didn’t tell him I avoid the basement as much as possible because of the huge gas furnace that lives down there, that I’m sure will erupt into a gas bomb at any point. I’m not quite used to home ownership.) He didn’t find anything in the basement either. Good? Except now I’m concerned that I’m hearing things that aren’t real.
He said he was going to take a look outside and up on the roof. Twenty minutes later he came inside with photos of a family of raccoons nesting in my unused chimneys (when I moved in the inspector told me the chimneys didn’t have a flue, and would likely catch on fire if I ever tried to use them. The fireplaces have been sealed off from the interior.). I was marveling at how cute they were when he mentioned he had to fill out a wildlife damage control form and file it with the state. I didn’t think anything of it, and kind of assumed that we were done. Raccoons using the chimney I wasn’t using didn’t seem like such a bad thing. I didn’t really care for the noises at night, but now I knew what they were. No biggie, right? He told me that he’d set traps, and once they were out, would seal off the chimney tops so nothing else could come in.
Then he mentioned they would have to euthanize the raccoons.
“But on your website you said that you specialize in relocation.” “Ma’am (he called me ma’am a lot and I couldn’t decide if I liked it or was annoyed by it), there was recently a rabies epidemic among raccoons. When we catch them, we’re required to report them to the state and euthanize them.”
At that point, I almost burst into tears.
Was I crying because of the fate of the raccoon family, nestled in my chimney?
Was I crying because I’ve never voluntarily (?) killed a living animal (I’m not a vegetarian so I realize some people would argue that I kill animals on a regular basis…)?
Was I crying because I was in a new town, away from my friends and loved ones, and refusing to admit that this was hard?
Was I crying because I’m about to turn a milestone age and life (while pretty fabulous) isn’t anything like I thought it would be like?
I asked him what the options were, and he described the traps they could use, ranging from a cage with food in it (that I associate with Bugs Bunny cartoons) to a trap that would immediately kill the raccoon. I asked to please use the cages. He mentioned that raccoons are smart, and often just take the food, without triggering the trap. I told him that was fine. He set them around the trees where claw marks indicated that raccoons had used them to climb to the roof (then down into the chimney).
I’m secretly hoping that the raccoons, being smart, see the cages and understand the gig is up, and relocate to another wooded area on their own. One can hope, right?