Please, just go

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?

5 thoughts on “Please, just go

  1. Oh, gosh Lori! We’ve had a similar story here in Folsom. We’ve had rats in the walls before, but I thought that the rats we heard behind and above our heads in the bedroom had surely put on quite a bit of weight. They sounded like they weighed 25 pounds and were yanking our electrical wiring out. The Clark man confirmed they were up in the attic and left his traps. Nothing…nothing. (We don’t have a lot of space up there.)
    Then, one night we came home to find Quincy Noodlebutt’s big, sealed garbage can full of dog food had been tipped over and dragged across the garage toward the doggie door that led outside! Hmmm…she’d never done that before. Poor thing suffered through all our dirty looks, but we stopped short of scolding her (we were suspicious that something more sinister was amiss). A couple days later, the same thing AND her bucket of big bones was scattered as well! This time we didn’t give her dirty looks. Poltergeist? Gremlins? We bought a security camera – we just could not squelch our curiosity. We moved her food indoors, but left a few bones-in-the-bucket-bait. Aha! We caught Rocky Raccoon handling those big bones with amazing skill. So, we took away the bones, having satisfied our curiosity. Whew. But wait…the second doggie door that leads into the house is just 1 foot away from the site of the big bone caper. You don’t think he…no, he wouldn’t.
    But he did! One morning we opened the bedroom door to start our day, and this time Quincy Noodlebutt’s food can had been knocked over, UPSTAIRS in the laundry room! Rocky was caught on tape helping himself through the doggie door. He passed on the full pantry (thankfully!), and explored his way to the laundry room. I guess raccoons know what they like. He spent 20 minutes in our home while we slept!
    DANG. Now we have to close up the exterior doggie-door (or should I say raccoon-door). We all feel a bit resentful that Rocky has forced us into new and inconvenient routines. Maybe we’ll look into a humane animal removal service before Rocky decides to start a family, He probably knows we’ll get tired of blocking that door!

    • What an ordeal, Jackie! That’s amazing that the raccoon came into your home while you were there – how brazen! I’m glad that you have a solution for now. Hopefully Rocky will find another dog door to visit soon. 🙂

  2. I hope they leave on their own 😦 Sorry you’re dealing with all this new stuff on your own. Sending you courage and hugs from over here! xo

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