Raccoons in the wild are scavengers. Especially in suburban areas, people suffer through the dilemma of how to keep “trash pandas” from turning over garbage bins. I had the same problem, but inside my house. We finally put an end to the Olympic sport of garbage tipping when we put a bungee cord around our garbage can. (Bungee cords are very useful when it comes to dealing with raccoons. Their little hands can’t manipulate them.)
Rodney, however, never went through the trash for food, but for fun. He gets offered enough treats throughout the day, his favorite being Rice Krispy treats. Most raccoons love marshmallows. Not Rodney, he prefers them stirred in something, usually cereal. He knows when I am making them and hangs out around my feet to lick the spoon. He will eat the gooey portion left on the wooden spoon and then usually steal it away to his room. Leaving me to bribe him with a Rice Krispy treat to get my spoon back. Bribes work tremendously on him. I can usually bribe him with the treats or gummy bears—another favorite. He does have preferred candy colors, red being number one. He also is into jelly beans but will take out a declaration of war if accidentally slipped a black one. He avoided me for a week after such an incident. I, too, have come to enjoy gummy bears and jelly beans, but I usually inject mine with vodka. When dealing with temper tantrums from a raccoon, the vodka helps—a lot.
Like a child, Rodney prefers to get what he wants, when he wants—which means I need to stay well-stocked on his favorite items. Otherwise, tantrums persist. Tantrums for a Rodney usually involve moving furniture, at two o’clock in the morning. Vodka also helps me sleep through such tantrums.
He does eat healthy—high-end dry dog food is a staple—but like most kids, he turns up his nose at vegetables. He thinks broccoli is for playing soccer, green beans are for throwing at his little brother (a four-pound Chihuahua), and mushrooms are for stuffing into the creases of the sofa. I have better success with fruit. Blueberries are popular, but more often than not end up as random modern art displays on my kitchen floor. Bananas were his favorite for a while and then became mounds that resembled the monolithic figures found on Easter Island. I initially encouraged Rodney’s artistic side. Three mopheads later, I’ve lost my appreciation for art.
Rodney also has a love for Tootsie Rolls. At Halloween, I like to buy a bag of bulk Tootsie Rolls for my husband and I to share. The only problem is, Rodney inevitably finds where I have hidden the bag and ends up stealing it away to his room. On several occasions, my husband has blamed me for eating all the Tootsie Rolls. . . only to find out there is another culprit. Most of the time we just have to follow the trail of Tootsie Roll wrappers to find his hiding spot. He never eats much of the candy, but likes to unwrap it. Unfortunately, Tootsie Rolls are very sticky and after being left out on furniture (or the floor), have to be peeled off. Rodney has even gotten a few stuck on his coat which has led to lots of swearing, screaming, and vodka (on my part). Rodney seems to enjoy the peanut butter I use to get his matted coat free of the mess.
His tastes change, and what he loves one day, he won’t touch the next, keeping me on my toes and hunting for new treats to tempt him. Like most mothers, I’m not happy unless my child is eating. And at the end of the day, when he has consumed his body weight in sugar cookies, Rice Krispy treats, or gummy bears, he sleeps—or should I say, goes into a sugar coma. It’s during those quiet times I relax and drink. Because I know when he awakens, he will be hungry again.
Life with Rodney is a series of posts from author Alexandrea Weis. Alexandrea is an award-winning author of several horror novels (find out more about her and her books at http://alexandreaweis.com), and is also a certified and permitted wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. When she is not writing, she rescues orphaned and injured wildlife—including a raccoon named Rodney, whose adventures she’ll detail here for us!