1. Meet Buckly
Although Buckly was never a nuisance animal, I had to start off with his story because he was so friendly, and so well liked, by so many people. This 2 & 1/2 year old Whitetail Deer freely roamed the lovely North Mentor, Ohio area. Shown here having a summer snack with some of his friends at one of his favorite haunts, the "Veterans Memorial Park," he is only too happy to partake of a popcorn ball. Dozens of people used to bring goodies to feed Buckly, but he would stand contentedly alongside you and enjoy a little petting even without a bribe. His name circulated and soon everyone seemed to know who he was. I often asked strangers at the Park if they'd see Buckly and most knew who I was asking about. Whenever I had the opportunity to pet Buckly I would give him a deep massage, really working my fingers into his muscles. He always showed obvious signs of enjoying it and would stand there for 20-30 minutes until his belly told him to start browsing. If you helped him find acorns he would touch his nose to it and either gobble it down in a big gulp or turn from it which meant it had a worm inside and wasn't impressed with your offering. Deer often swallow acorns whole to regurgitate later to chew with their cud, like a cow does. Buckly had an extremely gentle nature and seemed very laid back. He didn't even mind a small barking dog on a leash yapping away at him while people were petting him (a few feet away) and usually having their picture taken with him. You didn't have to go over to him, "he" would usually approach "you." I witnessed small children hugging his neck and their parents telling me they had never seen him before, Buckly was quick to make new friends. He was obviously hand raised, probably near the Park, and allowed to wander off as he liked and finally lived wild full time while always holding onto his fond memories of humans, interacting with us every chance he got. He was last seen in Oct. of 2003 and I won't speculate about what became of him though rumor has it he left town to marry a doe in Concord and doesn't get out much because he's a devoted family Buck.
These 4 pics of Buckly were taken on August 14, 2003.
2. My 1st trapping job
It was around 1964, I was barely 10 years old. I had accumulated a few "Victor Traps" for mice and rats because they were inexpensive, readily available and easy to find at the local hardware store. I was always looking for any hole or likely place to set them around neighbors homes because I was always thrilled if I could catch them, it seemed an adventure to try and outsmart them. One day an elderly neighbor called out to me, "bring your traps over here" she said. She explained the mice were eating things in her kitchen cupboards. I saw their droppings between the various boxes and cans, a sure sign, my heart quickened! (gimme a break, I was 10 years old, lol). I set 2 mouse traps and she gave me a bowl of ice cream as a reward for my efforts. The next day she called me over to remove the mice I'd caught and asked me to reset the traps. I said I would, and that I wanted a quarter this time. She was certainly taken aback as she balked at my outrageous request. She said, "a - a - a - A QUARTER?!?!?! She reached into her small change-purse and took out a small thin silver dime, holding it out to me very insistently, wanting me to settle for 10 cents. I held fast to my price, I knew she was getting me cheap. The debate over the price went back and forth several volleys before she finally surrendered a nice plump quarter. I was now a professional trapper, at least in my own mind! She was a sweet elderly woman in her 80's and probably wondered what a kid would need with a whole quarter. Certainly in her own youth a penny would have gotten her a whole handful of assorted candies. Looking back now, I feel honored to have done my first trapping job for someone born around 1880. Knowing now that she was of so many years, it might be nice if I could go back and settle for the dime. It's funny how vividly I remember looking up to the sound of her words calling out to me that day.... "Bring your traps over here." Those words continue to echo to me to this very day with every phone call I get. It was day one, the beginning of a long career.
3. My First Indoor Removal, the chase is on!
I was now about 12 years old. My trapping supplies were growing along with my talents and I was branching out to anything that moved and was covered with fur, fins or feathers. I'd built my own box traps, mostly out of wood discarded behind factories, using bits of wire and screening and such as I could salvage anywhere I could find it. It was the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio and a kid had to be resourceful or go without. Besides, money was hard earned and better spent on the necessities of a kid's life, the important things like; chocolate bars, pop, donuts, popsicles, ice-cream bars, any form of ice cream actually, toys, etc.
By now I'd caught rabbits and squirrels and kept seeking new and bigger game.
I had ridden my bicycle to my father's place of work, a factory where they made mattresses. It was a Saturday so I hoped to be allowed to visit while the place was mostly empty except for the two men loading the trucks, one of course was my dad who was the clerk there and helped load. I overheard them talking about the pigeon that had gotten in through a broken window up on the 3rd floor and was nesting on a ledge produced by an out cropping from the bales of horse-hair they used there. No one could catch it, they said it was too fast. I saw the challenge and slipped away to the third floor, alone. Certainly these days you would get fired for letting your child run around your place of employment, good ole 1966, and besides I needed the practice. I found the spot the bird was entering and as they said it would fly right out the small 6" hole in the broken window if it saw your approach. I studied the situation then scrambled through the shop in search of something to use to set up my next move. One step at a time, I decided I needed to keep her inside, on "my" terms, to give myself the edge. Certainly I couldn't fly after it, my plan was to "ground" her. I found a long piece of cardboard to use. I laid at the top of the stack of the itchy bales of horsehair directly above the nest and window opening, talk about commitment, sheesh! I was hidden except for my arms outstretched holding the cardboard waiting for the bird to circle back and land. Very soon it did just that but stood hesitantly in the window opening not sure what to make of the cardboard suspended just above the window's open hole. It waited for what seemed an eternity. Her caution lasted about 15-20 minutes and my arms were screaming at me to stop. I forced myself to endure the agony, I wanted the catch at any cost. When the pigeon finally was lulled into believing there was no danger, it entered, hopping the two feet to its nest of eggs. I immediately slammed down the cardboard blocking her exit!! She tried to rocket out the window but was deflected off the cardboard, instantly she turned and flew off into the factory not knowing what else to do. I had my chance now! I secured the hole first, then set out in pursuit. Off I went, chasing the pigeon wherever it tried to perch, from one set of fluorescent lights to the next. The lights were suspended from the ceiling keeping her out of reach. I found some duct tape and connected a few of the longest available wood pieces to make a pole to use as a reaching tool to force the bird to keep moving, hoping she would make a mistake. After more than an hour she finally started landing on the floor. Herding the pigeon into a corner I brought a cardboard box down over it, slid a cover under the box and turned it over. Success! I'd done it!
Soaked with sweat, nearly exhausted but exhilarated, I carried my quarry (alive, unharmed) down the stairs to the first floor and proudly announced I'd caught the Pigeon! They were all VERY skeptical until they peaked inside the box. Some other employee's had come in and I saw them looking at each other with astonishment saying, "the kid caught the pigeon?"
I was certainly on the right track, but if you picture a kid of pre teenage years running wildly through someone's factory,,, well,,, I'm sure the owner would have had a coronary if he had known. No, I didn't get paid for my labor but learned an important lesson; ALWAYS discuss terms of payment "before" undertaking any future jobs! At home I built a wooden box with window screen over its side as a cage, and kept that bird in our garage as a pet.
4. Throwing gas on the fire
A man sets up a large 4 x 8 foot piece of plate glass on two saw-horses to use for feeding the birds behind his house. After years of throwing seed onto it with the winds and rains periodically rinsing the seed off, there had accumulated a nice deep layer of seed on the ground all around it. The entire surrounding area felt a little mushy as you walked over it there. It obviously had never been cleaned up but allowed to rot into the Earth. He had called me out to catch raccoons that had broken into his house. It's always just a matter of time, if you feed raccoons that they will inevitably find their way into your attic or chimney, perhaps under a deck or shed of either your own house or that of your neighbors. Raccoons never live far from a free meal, you've been warned! So it happened finally that these raccoons decided to climb up the house of their benefactor. They tore a hole through a window screen and climbed into the man's bedroom. It must have been either just before dark or just after dawn because he wasn't sleeping in the room when they did it. But later he found they had gotten in and defecated on his dresser and bed. Walking repeatedly over the feces they left their little poopy tracks all over his pillow and walls. Outside while looking over the "seed-feeding station" which he had created, I saw chunk-style dog food in a pile near the birdseed. He explained that at first rats came from the woods to the seed on the ground, but that later when the skunks started showing up they got rid of the rats. When the raccoons began coming to feed there they caused the skunks to spray. He said he could always tell when skirmishes arose over the food supply, even if you didn't hear them snarling. The nose always knows. So, he decided it was best to feed the "coons" so they would leave the skunks alone, and stop making his life miserable with their stinky spray (mercaptan). He further explained that he had so many raccoons coming there these days that he had to put out "12 gallons!!!!" of dry dog food "per night" to keep the coons all well fed and happy enough so they wouldn't have to combat with the skunks over the birdseed. Are we learning here folks?
The coons brought their young and next year more coons brought even more young and soon it turned into a nightmare army of invading raccoons. I set 6 traps and caught 69 raccoons, stopping when the catch was down to one per night. I'm sure I could have caught even more if I had stayed longer, but he was done spending money on them and I'd removed the bulk of their numbers. This all happened in 1992 in Willoughby Hills. I'd been a Nuisance Trapper for years now. Until now my largest raccoon trapping job had numbered 32 animals caught in 2 weeks using 3 traps (in Mentor's French Hollow area).
Please note: To all of you who love to feed the raccoons: I love you all very much, please keep up the good work, you're the backbone of my business! I thank you from the bottom of my heart (and wallet) and I'm sure the raccoons thank you too!
5. "Trapping Fever" 104 reasons to visit the E.R.
In the above story of catching the 69 raccoons for the gentleman you didn't get to hear the less glorious side of raccoon trapping. While picking up the last of the raccoons I felt a tiny pin prick. The metal trap had a tiny metal barb on the end of one of the corners where the metal had been cut when the trap was built, This tiny pin prick, as it jabbed itself into the top of my left hand's ring finger had deposited a few tiny bacteria under my skin. I felt it prick me so I checked the skin and saw nothing, not even a tiny dot of blood, it was that small and seemingly insignificant! Worth noting, raccoons always dig a rut alongside the trap when caught, it’s their way of trying to dig out of the trap. In this case the rotting seed had created a hotbed for bacterial growth. Then, while pawing at the trap they spread germs all over it. Roundworm eggs on the surface of their feces which they are walking on all night are also on the trap by the time you come to pick it up. The worst dangers are the ones you can’t even see!
I'm not sure if it was later that day or the next day, but around supper time I had a sudden red swelling appear over the spot of the tiny puncture. In a few moments time the entire top of that section of finger between the 2 knuckles was so swollen it was stretched as tight as a drum, red, and highly sensitive to the slightest touch. Touching it softly and yanking my finger away, surprised at the sensitivity, I knew something was very wrong. That evening by 9:30pm I felt an ache building in my shoulders combined with slight headache and felt like I was getting the Flu. I took my temperature and it was 101.2 .... I took aspirins and went to bed early. I woke in the middle of the night with a 103 degree fever. In the morning my fever had hit 104 hot, HOT degrees! I was alternately burning up and freezing and shaking. I felt totally miserable as you can imagine. Actually you can't imagine it unless you've been there. I made an appointment to be seen by a doctor at a local clinic. The doctor was not acting in my best interests and I wish I had gone straight to an Emergency Room (or to a different Doctor). I remember that 3 times he asked me if I had a sore throat and each time I told him I didn't. But when he asked me that third time, I remember thinking, why doesn't he just ask me to "say ah" and look for himself and see if it’s red or inflamed. He said something about if the fever broke by Monday I had the Flu. And that if it didn't, I would be put in the Hospital and treated for septicemia. I didn't know what that meant and didn't ask, when you have a 104 fever "everything" is too hard to do, a slight sentence is like an argument you aren't "up" for. I learned later it meant "Blood Infection." I also found out that the term “blood poisoning” is a medically incorrect term. That night I began to hallucinate in the dark and couldn't sleep at all. I remember muttering the words, "That doctor didn't do anything." I couldn't believe I'd been to a doctor and was this sick and had been given NO medication,,,, NOTHING!!!
The next morning, still 104 degrees, (which never fluctuated over the 3 days) I now saw a red streak running up my arm from the spot on the finger where the original pin prick happened. I found a medical book and looked up septicemia, all the while shaking with freezing/fire. I called Lake West Hospital and they said to come there immediately. Though everything I had seen the night before was all ugly monsters while I hallucinated seeing the visions in the dark, today as I sat on the sofa awaiting my ride I saw all cutesy things, of course I knew I was hallucinating and they looked sort of transparent but so detailed and realistic too. I saw a child peddle up on a tricycle holding a flower in one hand, he stopped in front of me and held out the flower towards me. Though I knew this wasn't real, in my delirium I held out my hand to see if he would in fact give it to me, but he just sat there smiling at me, waiting for me to take it. Then a clown walked up next to him and stood there looking at me, he looked like a “Ronald McDonald...” clown,.... I kid you not. When my ride arrived they came in and I told what I was looking at and I remember them looking at one another with "that look" and I could imagine what they were thinking. My legs were giving out under me, somehow I found myself inside the back seat, I really don't recall the details. I do remember when we got to the hospital I tried to get out and got stuck half way out of the backseat, I collapsed right there and couldn't move. I asked for help but the man in white with the wheelchair said he wasn't allowed to help me out of the car. I said, let me rest a minute and I’ll try again. I took a few deep breaths and as I tried to stand and couldn't’, he grabbed my hand, but seriously, it was his pulling me up that got me out, or I’d still be there now I suppose, lol. Inside they gave me an IV of some orange goo that looked as thick as toothpaste. They drew blood etc. and honestly if they had asked me to put my head in a guillotine I probably would have, I was that out of it! A nurse came along and took my temperature after the plastic bag was empty and as I laid there freezing with fever she said; “you can’t have a blanket,” and took my only warmth from my freezing body, which of course was the right thing to do. Then she gave me another IV of cool saline which she said would cool me and lower my body's temperature to make me feel better, but afterwards I was still exactly 104, I felt like “204”. Finally they discharged me with a prescription for some horse-sized pills to continue taking. They had assured me the medicine I had received by IV was all I would need to save my life and the pills would keep me from relapsing. At home I laid in bed naked and on fire, that thick gooey medicine in my blood had me feeling like a steaming baked potato. I would roll over on the bed as it insulated my body heat forcing me to keep moving every minute or so. I felt like a hot dog on a grill, saying to myself, I’m done on this side, and rolled over and over and over for hours. I felt like my body was dying, it gave me a scarey feeling. Finally, twelve hours from the time they'd put that IV of orange gooey medicine into me, my fever suddenly broke and my body's temperature dropped 7 degrees, from a HOT 104 to a cool 97. I sat up in bed and muttered, “I’m alive.” The next day I awoke with a full body rash, geez, I wondered, what’s next? But that was the worst of it and slowly I regained my strength. I didn't take any trapping jobs for two weeks, slowly regaining my strength, until I felt up to it. I had lost 10 pounds in under three days from the high metabolism burn of the 104 degree non-stop workout (fever). I now stay current on my immunization for Tetanus and Diphtheria. If you contact the Lake County Health Department (their website link is on my “Web Links” page) they supply the doctor/nurses and administer the shots, by appointment, for only $5.00, what a great deal!! Thank You LCHD!!! The bottom line to this story is that after all the work was done, getting 69 raccoons off the customer's property, and adding up all my doctor and hospital bills, I lost thousands of dollars. Not to mention what I went through. I have my shots now and learned a lot about pre-immunization and precautions, but there are always dangers when dealing with wild animals.
6. Home Court advantage, Raccoons 2 Vs. Rats 4
A Woman in Mentor on the Lake hires me because she hears something in her ceiling and walls. When I arrive on the scene, she shows me where she puts the dog food out in front of the house to feed the raccoons, she had only been doing it a short time she said. she said there was a hole in the ceiling above her basement steps and took me inside to the basement door. I opened it, slowly, carefully, with caution as I always do in case something is sitting there just dying to race through the house. As I shine my flashlight around the hole the two raccoons stick their heads into view to look me over. I see they are average sized adults and shut the door. She next explains the dog food bag had a hole chewed in the corner of it and asks if the raccoons could be getting into her kitchen where she kept it stored. Inspecting the bag closely, I see small sized teeth marks, made by small incisors set close together like a large chipmunk would have. I start scanning the pantry a few feet away where the shelves have dry-goods sitting stored on them. I see rat droppings, they're hard to miss, they have a particular shape to them. Now we know who's been eating the dry dog food. She also tells me that one time she was doing the dishes and felt something run across her bare feet as she stood there at the sink. Still scanning for more sign in the Pantry, I see a broom leaning against the wall, the bristled end was blocking the path along the wall where boxes had been placed. The rat was so used to running along that wall that when she used the broom last and propped it there with the bottom blocking the rats path, instead of climbing over it each time, the rat chewed a nice tunnel through the bristles, and probably took them home to the nest to use there as bedding (nesting material). Following the path along the wall I see the bottom shelf is just a few inches high and under one end of it, on the floor, is a tightly packed rat nest. I'm sure the rat was sitting inside it. I also checked her basement and other areas. The basement had a pile of insulation on the floor so looking directly above it I see a water pipe that turns 90 degrees up into the walls to run to the upper levels. The Rats were using it as a climbing pole to other more cozy dwelling places. I set rat traps inside the house and raccoon traps outside. I caught the 2 coons the first night right where they usually found the free meals left by the woman. I caught 4 nice sized adult rats inside, 3 in the basement and one in the pantry right next to the nest under the shelf.
This very elderly lady was so gentle natured that at first she had told me not to trap for the rats because I wanted to use the type of rat traps that kill the rat,,, in her own words..... "you don't understand sir, I can't hurt a fly." She only reluctantly changed her mind after she recently purchased a fresh box of cereal, she exclaimed; "I just can't afford them anymore." The rats had chewed a hole through the box and ate the cereal for breakfast.
7. Nylons and Pythons
Two younger gals buy a 6' pet python and stop at a store on the way home to buy some clothes. They come out of the store to find the sack which the snake "was" in, is now empty, with the Python catching some shade under the front seat. He had expanded himself against the sides under there so he could not be pulled out easily without harming him. They are horrified of it, yet they just bought it as a pet, probably to impress their friends. They call me, I find them in the store's parking lot. I stick a plastic bag of crushed ice under the seat against the snake (knowing he is tropical) and he slithers out in under a minute, so I grab him behind the head. He tries to knot around my arm but I'm anticipating that and get him into the sack pronto. I was surprised when they didn't call me again that evening to get him back in the sack (again) to return him to the pet store.
8. Happy Ending
A pet hamster falls into a furnace duct, dropping to the lower level of the house. The kids are frantic of course. He seems to not have been hurt from the fall. Before going to the job I ask the mother of the kids to measure the opening. I whip together a cage/trap just the right size to fit down the small duct, it's about 4.5" x 10" inches. I place food inside it and a small amount of water, I lower it down. Within a minute I see the hamster climb atop the cage instead of entering it. Since I know he won't be able to jump back off once I raise it a few inches, I slowly haul him up. Another minute later I hand him to the kids and everyone was all smiles.
9. "4th of July" Raccoon Job
I was hired to trap raccoons at a yacht club in Eastlake. The natives were restless I suppose and having a festive holiday party, or so they tell me. When I arrive to pick up my night's catch, inside the trap is a stuffed animal shaped like a raccoon, the 16" fuzzy kind that children cuddle with when they go to sleep. I chuckle and reset the trap. I also once trapped a stuffed armadillo.
10. Just One Please
A man has me come to get a family of raccoons out of his fireplace. I catch the mother and remove the babies. I point out that it's a high coon area and would he like me to install "raccoon proof" chimney caps? He says he would like one for the fireplace chimney but not the furnace chimney. I explain that if he doesn't cap the furnace chimney he might as well not bother capping the other one because he will still get raccoons, I further explain that raccoons will use that smaller size chimney just as easily and as often as they use the fireplace. He insists, so I comply. I realize he thinks I'm just giving him a sales pitch to sell an extra cap. But I don't mind, the customer is always right! Especially when I get paid again if another raccoon comes down there and when he doesn't believe me.
A couple years go by..... it's around midnight when I get a phone call. A woman tells me a raccoon is in her house, she agrees to pay the extra charge for me to come out at this late hour of the night. At the house as I unload a trap and don protective clothing and grab my noose, I look at the house and because its a red house on an easy to remember corner, I recall its the house I removed the Momma coon and babies from a couple years ago. Of course I already know how it got in. I go inside and the woman is ironing clothes about 12 feet from the big nasty looking raccoon who is sitting on her mantle watching her, biding his time, considering his options. She seems unafraid. Privately I'm thinking how naive she is to think there isn't a huge amount of danger for her, a raccoon this size can be VERY vicious! I secure the raccoon into my trap with my shortest noose (for close-up work in tight quarters). I tell them I took a mom and babies from the fireplace and were they the same family living there at that time, I'd only met the husband last time I was there. They remembered the coons and agreed it was them. I asked where the furnace was and would they like me to inspect it? I find the exhaust duct was a large 12 inch type, the largest I'd ever seen. It had been knocked off by the raccoon quite easily as it was very loose when I placed it back on. I mention they need to secure it much better than is was originally set up. The furnace was sitting behind louvered doors, the kind that bounce right open if you leaned on them. This raccoon got in as easily as if they had built him a swinging door. The cost of an emergency coon removal with a noose, plus a late night charge, cost a bit more than a chimney cap which would have cost him $27.50 plus tax.
11. Coon got your tongue?
This story made me chuckle to myself as it was actually happening, and it's hard to tell it and impart the exact feel. I guess all I can say is you had to be there to feel the real humor of it. Sometimes people hire you because they decide they need help but they still aren't completely OK with their decision. It's a kind of a buyers remorse, like when they need a new car so they go find one they like and as soon as they spend the money on it they just know they made a mistake. It isn't until they are able to see they didn't get a lemon and it does get great mileage and it's all they hoped it would be. then their remorse turns into satisfaction as they feel good about the wise decision they made buying it. Ok, let's tell the story, and see if I can paint the picture well enough for you to see what made me smile inside.
I get a middle of the night call for a raccoon that is in their house, the bathroom to be exact. An elderly woman greets me and directs me to the stairs to the upper bathroom. I can hear her husband upstairs, he isn't being quiet or discreet but is rather loudly voicing his disdain over the whole affair. She assures me it is "OK",,,, that her husband is only frustrated over the fact that he can't do it himself as he is bedridden these days. She asks me not to worry about what he is saying and to please get the raccoon out. I tell her it's fine and carry my trap and noose up the steps. I peek in carefully and then step inside discreetly. I open the trap's door and take my noose in hand to look for the coon. It seems he can only be one place, at the end of the long double sink behind the toilet where I can't see, yet. As I take a couple soft steps towards the toilet I begin to see the raccoon, He is immense!!! Not your average large coon mind you, this big boy is built like a defensive lineman, a coon like this is a whole separate kind of raccoon. It's like taking on a tenacious wolverine, a "cornered" one too! I know I have to get him in a really good hold on the first try. No way do you want him slipping out of the noose with a half face grab, no missing the neck for this giant ball of trouble. This size raccoon, once he knows you mean to tangle with him, that you aren't there by accident and don't intend to back off, He will take you on if he feels he must, to survive.
Now you have to understand a couple things before I can continue. First thing, it may sound cruel to some of you when I talk about slapping a steel loop over the animals neck and squeezing it as tightly as I can hold it, it isn't. The raccoons have a very thick hide and a strong skeletal make up. they aren't damaged at all, just controlled. They are never injured by this and they still get plenty of air, if they didn't they wouldn't be growling, they need air passing over their voice box or there couldn't be a sound produced. Secondly, once you grab a raccoon in this manner they erupt into a Tasmanian She-Devil!!!! The sounds they make when noosed sound like,,,,, well,,,,, if you spoke raccoonese I'm sure it would interpret to mean; "If I get out of this thing I'm going to rip off your face and tear it to shreds." It happens every time. I myself ignore it and stay focused on bring it down into the trap, and securing it there to end the job well. OK, bearing all that in mind, let me get back to the story. I'm about to lean in and make my move,,,, the elderly gent is in his bed griping and moaning away, loud and totally upset, an endless flurry of words,, all about how he would do it himself if only he could get up. He never stops verbalizing for a second, throw in a few cuss words and creative adjectives here and there and you begin to get the picture. But that aside, now I'm focusing on the raccoon, I see it isn't an optimal angle but as I move closer the coon moves just enough in the right way and I make my thrust in towards him and yank the noose shut and wait a second to see if I have him well enough to try forcing him from behind the toilet. It looks Good! I've got a solid hold on him!! So the giant raccoon goes immediately into the typical explosion of snarling and growling, big time! And I mean REALLY loud too! The man's bed is directly opposite the bathroom wall, so he has a close perfect spot for hearing every syllable coming out of this irate raccoon's mouth. I know it probably sounds like the raccoon is ripping me to pieces and at that exact moment I hear the old Gent become abrubtly silent! I'm relieved as the coon slides into the trap without instance, because an animal that size can easily catch the side with a foot and make things much more difficult for me. But I'd placed him in there squarely and the trap door closed cleanly. All was well as I removed the noose from the trap. I smile now, realizing that "not one word" has come from the man since the coon went ballistic. I can picture him on the other side of that wall sitting up in bed thinking, "My God, I wanted to go in there with that vicious creature??!!?!....I must have been out of my mind". He definitely was reconsidering how hastily he had wanted to do it himself. To break his suspense I spoke and announced all was over, and that the animal was secured in the trap. I opened the bathroom door and carried him downstairs and outside. Still not a peep from my buddy in the bedroom when I come back in to get paid.
That raccoon to this day is the biggest one I ever had to get out of a house. I've had some that came pretty close, but he took the prize.
12. You've really got a hold on me
A man gets a raccoon in his attic and being a seasonal fur trapper he thinks he can handle it on his own. In the woods during the fur season he uses leg hold traps legally, so he figures he will use them at his house to catch the raccoon. In the morning instead of finding a coon in the trap he finds an adult skunk. She's going nowhere fast. Of course he used the trap illegally inside the city limits. Right or wrong, someone still has to get this skunk out of his backyard so here I come to save the day. I make a deal with the skunk and he agrees not to spray me,,,, lol. Ok, I can't tell you my secrets of "how to".... but once all is set, I ease the leg-hold trap off the skunk's leg bone, she is probably numb and didn't feel me do it but I was of course right up there getting all personally acquainted with her. She walked off once I released her and off I went smelling as sweet as when I arrived. One thing I do very well is remove skunks without making them spray.
13. Cats like it, so do Skunks
A woman tells me there is a skunk in her garage. When I get there it is asleep in her laundry basket. Cats do it all the time, they love a little box or basket, apparently so do skunks.
14. Hide and Seek
Another woman tells me there is a skunk in her garage. When I search for it all I find is a puddle of urine and a fresh skunk dropping (feces). She hasn't opened the garage door and there is no chance it escaped, so where the heck is it???? There wasn't that much stored in the garage so I knew when I had looked everywhere, and still no skunk. Hmmm,,,, what am I missing. As I peer at the riding lawn mower it hits me. They have a tunnel where suction draws the grass clippings up to be deposited into the two bins on the back. Undoing the latch I peer inside to see two beady little eyes peering back at me. I carefully remove her.
15. The inci"Dental" Trapper
While skunk trapping a location which produced 7 adult skunks, I arrive to make a pick up of one of the animals, there's just one little problem. The skunk has its bottom jaw stuck in the wire mesh of the traps bottom. It seems that while trying to escape via digging through the bottom of the trap, the animal which usually just uses its front claws, tried to chew out and managed to press its fangs between the tight fit of the trap's wire mesh squares. It was an unfortunate perfect fit to allow it to force them in but too painful to force back out. So there it sat, stuck by the teeth with its face pressed up against the trap and dirt. Don't try this at home kids! So now I not only have to remove the skunk from the property, I have to undo it from its predicament too. Forced to become an oral surgeon, I shake my head and grab a pair of needle nose pliers. Reassessing the situation up close, I decide the pliers will likely break the tooth while squeezing it and forcing it free, causing the skunk to let loose and ruin my day. You'll think I'm kidding, but the truth is I was actually coming from the Dentist myself! It's one of life's weird little ironies. When you deal with things as unpredictable as wild animals you often find yourself in strange situations, so I was taking all this in stride. Studying the problem to decide the best access, I set the trap upright to get at the skunk from underneath. The skunk seemed to need help so badly she was willing to allow me access without any sign of even hinting at spraying. You would have thought it would be all the more stressed out by my presence knowing it was helpless to move away from me. Especially after enduring such long term duress! After long careful minutes of close examination, I finally decide the best angle is for me to apply pressure on the chin. I move the trap to realign her teeth to the widest of the opening, opposite corners of the square. Then I squeeze her two fangs together slightly as I push on her chin. I feel her teeth grating along the wire and suddenly, Plop! Out comes her mouth and she's free! The skunk made no attempt to threaten me, to back me off. It strangely seemed all along as if it knew I meant it no harm. On the other hand, I've seen many a skunk that was stuck, often in fences, and the first thing they do is raise their tail when you approach. I was just happy to see the animal was only displaying signs of calmness, perhaps even relief. I continued to transfer the skunk and stowed it away in my vehicle. Within minutes of the successful "extraction" I was driving away with my happy patient. Just call me Dr. Robert, DDS.
16. The Perils of High Fashion
Who gets stuck more than any other animal? It's the skunk by far. Often getting stuck in cyclone fences, but occasionally I find them in various other sorts of trouble. They get stuck trying to force their way through a hole in concrete, either to enter a garage or barn with a concrete base. Or trying to get into a hole in a concrete wall once inside the structure. Sometimes they get their head stuck inside objects they find in your backyard which you left sitting on the ground, such as a birdhouse. Many times when they are rummaging through a trash bag they find a mayonnaise jar worthy of inspecting and get their head stuck in it, then twist and turn trying to get back out. Flopping all over your yard until you call out the Trapper. One skunk which I trapped had something around its neck, somewhat concealed by its fur. As I gave it a closer inspection, it was the glass ring of the top of a mayo jar which it must have managed to break. Probably in its efforts to free itself, it got lucky and swung up against a steel pole, holding up your kids basketball hoop, or maybe just a street sign, smashing the jar and allowing it to feed and drink again. In this case the body of the jar broke away, but the threaded top around the opening stayed intact, and left the animal with a glass necklace. She looked quite stylish, I must say! The envy of all the other skunks. On the other hand, if the animal moved the wrong way, the jagged edges of the broken glass were ready to cut her throat, and if it pawed at the "necklace" it was in danger of slitting its wrists! Wash n Wear, with extra care.
17. Rare Urban Mink
Finding a wild Mink living in an Urban area is extremely rare. This is the only one I've ever seen or removed from an urban area in all my decades of Nuisance Animal Trapping. This Mink was trapped by a Wickliffe resident while trying to capture a skunk. I was called in to remove and relocate the animal. I was glad to set it free in a heavily wooded area in the outskirts of Chardon, where there was a nearby swamp with small tributaries.
~~~Picture displayed at the bottom of this page.~~~
18. Nuts and Bolts
A kind hearted woman hires me to get a chipmunk unstuck. It seems he has made a home by digging out a chamber behind a small triangular shaped hole in the concrete that ran along the front of her garage door. The chipmunk was filling his cheeks with acorns (like hamsters do) and bringing them home to store away for winter (I mean, for a Christmas feast). The opening was shaped like a triangle and his full cheek pouches were stuffed. Causing one side to get pinched tight in the corner of the concrete where a small thin crack was just right to snag and hold it there. He couldn't free himself. The animal never thought to unload his cheeks which I'm sure would have allowed him to get closer to the problem, and pull his pinched skin free. The woman liked watching him and didn't mind that he lived under her garage, he was her little buddy. Heck, those might have been cashews in his pouch that she bought just for him. I guess it's cheaper than owning a cat or dog, plus Vet bills. She didn't want him taken away or harmed, just to help him get free. I pinned him down gently and pulled his cheek skin backwards a lil harder than he himself was able to. He popped free in an instant and bolts into the hole in a blur. One of the easiest jobs I ever did.
19. Two Headed Squirrel
A customer hires me to come out to get some squirrels untangled from some brush under a line of trees along her border. She says it's two squirrels and they are both stuck there. This makes no sense at all since a squirrel can easily chew through any kind of brush that grows, and free himself easily. Two stuck in the same tangle made even less sense. I figured there must be a very good reason and didn't imagine what I would find until I saw their dilemma for myself. Sure enough there were two squirrels and they appeared quite tangled there on the ground. I pinned them down to be able to safely handle them, to see up close what gives. The two were young squirrels, just old enough to get out on their own and get weaned. The siblings were born joined together at the tip of their tails! Siamese "Fox Squirrels." Knowing well the internal skeletal anatomy of a squirrel I merely separated them with a pocket knife, slicing between their last tiny tail-bone notch, which are like miniature knuckles. I also knew it would heal over without instance, it's a common occurrence among squirrels being chased to lose the tip or even entire ends of their tails. Some lose half the tail to a dog and heal over. They scampered off to their first taste of freedom, from each other.
20. Coming to Bat
Thinking back to my first ever "Bat" job, it isn't much to tell except for one thing, a lot of people aren't aware of how easily Bats can squeeze through very small slits and holes. As I arrive the resident explains that the Bat is in an adjoining room, the door to that room is a "louvered" door. I'd heard of how small a space they can enter through and that a dime was enough for the smaller young ones, that a nickel sized hole was a freeway to any adult "Little Brown Bat" that needs a new home to invade and make it his own. That is the truth, they are very mouse-like when it comes to squeezing through tiny openings. So as I'm looking at the louvered door the bat suddenly flies right through it as if it had a one foot square opening. It never slowed down, I didn't see it squeeze through and leap into the air again once through...... it flew through the slit as if it never slowed down, as if it never stopped flying. Just that fast it was in the room with all three of us. She and her son both ran out the front door, one or both of them screaming. As it flew towards me I knocked it to the ground briefly, it rebounded and flew just above the floor. It scooted out the front door, never to be seen again. Not very exciting, but I learned for myself how they can maneuver small openings with ease. On a more exhilarating note, I'll throw in a more exciting memory of a Bat job. I go into a bedroom where a Bat was last seen, the door had been kept closed until I arrived. Always tuck a bath towel into the gap at the bottom of a door until I arrive, to keep it in there, away from you. Bats are a host animal for Rabies. They don't all have rabies but they might be "host carriers" and can kill you with even a tiny bite from their small teeth. The Bat was on the window curtain and fortunately it remained there while I pounced on it and dispatched it. I always dispatch them and NEVER release them alive outside your home because they have "homing pigeon" capabilities, and will fly right back into your attic, and find their way back in through the exact same crack they did the first time. It's just too risky to assume they won't end up biting you while you're asleep one night. Anyway, while I'm busy with this Bat, a second Bat, which no one knew was in the home, flew right up behind me and I feel his wing brush my neck. At the same time I see his shadow on the wall in front of me. I had just taken care of the first Bat so I let it fall to the floor to take on this new threat. Turning, I see it circle at the other end of the bedroom and head back at me. I take it down when it gets close enough. I scan for a third Bat (or more), but find no others. How fortunate for me the second Bat didn't land on my neck and sink it's teeth into me. I remember a job where the customer said a bat was in a room and that when the husband went in to kill it, that suddenly the ceiling tiles which had started to fall down, which had caused the access for the bat to enter from above,,,, suddenly fell off and as several sections of the tiles fell away the room was flooded with the Bats which had been huddled on the top of them. He had managed to open a window, then hit the floor. He reported that they all flew out fairly quickly. It's worth noting that many people who get a bat in their house have reported to em that when they opened a window the Bat refused to fly out it and I've also had some who reported that more Bats flew in. Bats love a cave, so if they spot an open window they assume they found what they love and enter readily, with excited glee, planning on staying. In the case of the room filled suddenly with Bats, they had called me out to help them Bat-Proof the house and show them all the weak areas and advise them on dealing with it once and for all. That is one of my services I perform for customers. A Bat inspection includes tons of "how to" advice and pointing out other animal weak spots on your home, and anything else I see worth pointing out to you.
21. RABIES in the backyard!!
In 1995 Rabies hit Lake County on a large enough scale that State Laws were changed to halt it's spread. The deadly virus had crossed the mountain range in PA. and moved west, finally creeping into Lake County, Ohio. They had to stop it from spreading across the country. Relocating animals would spread it much faster than the natural progression. Affected species would be euthanized, by State Law, without exception. Failure to do so can result in fines and imprisonment. Rabies kills, horribly and without regard, no one can argue any differently. But in the years preceding it's arrival on the present larger scale, there were always incidents where it showed up intermittently. Animals, as always, managed to become infected by nature's normal level of exposure, as they always had for centuries. When it came to visit a family in Lake County, I was called in.
They said the raccoon was in the Dog-house. It was situated at the corner of the property along a row of hedges. I decided to approach it from the side of their property. This allowed me to keep the hedges between us as a hedge of protection, (pun intended). Shining my bright Mag-Light into the dog house I couldn't see anything, I wondered if it had left or if it was around the corner of the opening, hidden to my eyes. Suddenly it growls as if highly agitated by my flashlight. Not the usual response from a normal healthy raccoon, my caution was well applied, at least I knew it was still inside the dog house. I used my longest noose to reach inside the dog's house, attempting to stir the animal. I was hoping it might exit and expose itself to my noose. At first it seemed reluctant, ignoring my proding but I knew better than to force the situation. Discretion and patience, aggressive moves would come when the opportunity presented the odds in my favor. For now, the coon deserved intelligent respect. I used the maglight (flashlight) until I heard the raccoon attacking the end of the noose and as I pulled it out, the coon chased it, snapping and snarling viciously! For the first time I could see it clearly, the foamy saliva drooling from it's mouth, RABIES!!! It's all they say it is, a rabid animal has the attitude of a T-Rex, multiplied by King Kong, to the 10th power! Trying to use the noose through the hedges was futile, the coon was mobile and the noose was repeatedly fouling in the tangle of hedges. I had my short noose laying at my feet ready and waiting should I need it, and I was about to need it. The short noose, about 27 inches, is an all steel tool which once applied gives me the greatest opportunity to be effective, its fast strong and reliable. It's only drawback is you are right up close and VERY personal. But with an aggressive move, it is just what the Doctor ordered, in this case, the Trappers best friend. Suddenly the raccoon was charging me, but would stop at the edge of the hedges, retreating slightly, preventing me from making a move to capture him. Taking the short noose in hand, I moved closer. I just wanted to lure him where I could end the whole thing before he ran off to threaten some other unsuspecting family. I was the bait. He immediately came at me, he seemed more agitated this time and came directly through the bushes to get me. He seemed intent on biting me to drive me away. He was like a possessed Psychopath. His Rabies attitude was in full tilt!!! I knew I had to get him on the first try or whack him over the head with the noose to protect myself, I couldn't be bitten at any cost. It was him or me! My noose's loop found his raging face, time stands still as your mind is racing and you see it pass far enough, then instinctively you slam it shut and in the instant you feel his neck inside the loop held tight you pray it stays that way. I whipped him into the wire box-trap as fast as was humanly possible. I hardly want to release the noose, wanting to leave him noosed "and" trapped. But as you see he is well secured you relent finally and loosen the noose, knowing he is secured. Removing the noose from the trap, my mouth is shut tight the whole time. The snapping snarls of the coon can propel bits of his saliva right into your mouth, if open, and the rabies virus will get you all the same. The job isn't over yet. My adrenalin is still pumping, I'm just along for the ride. Whatever happened after that, I have no recollection. My mind's memory of the entire affair is focused on the capture. The rest becomes insignificant and forgotten. But those intense couple minutes (20 years ago) are as clear as a bell to me. The movie "Cujo" seems tame in comparison to actually being there and seeing it, hearing it, feeling it, experiencing the animal's insanity! I really didn't come away feeling like the victor, more like I'd survived the encounter.
22. A Word to the Wise
One thing I've learned in all my years of doing this work, there are always a number of weird uncontrollable things that happen periodically and unexpectedly when dealing with wild animals. Things that just explode upon you. You learn to expect them, you take steps to avoid them, so you don't find yourself endangered when things get tense. Experience means I've seen many unexpected things, some happen repeatedly, so I take measures to prevent them "before" they happen. To offset the odds from working against me. It's what you don't foresee that can hurt you, that's why there are times when it's just wise to hire an experienced professional. I've noosed a lot of raccoons over the years, I don't remember ever taking any of them lightly.
23. Distemper; Dazed and Confused
Remember earlier I mentioned catching 32 raccoons for a woman in Mentor's "French Hollow" area? The year "after" I'd caught those 32 coons a woman living just a few houses up the street from that job, calls me. The woman says there is a raccoon pacing back and forth on her back deck. It's a high rise deck with steps near the same ravine all the coons always use in that area as a natural travel lane. I arrive on scene and climb the steps to the deck above, carrying a trap and a noose. The trap's door is open ahead of time so I can be ready should the animal become aggressive immediately. Reaching the top I pause just 6 steps from the deck. I peer over the edge, scanning the deck. My eyes just peaking to see where he is, before spooking him I like to approach with as little disturbance as possible. As he moves to the far end, I step up onto the deck and set the trap down and turn to face him. The raccoon walks straight towards me as if I am invisible to him. At the last second he turns and veers to his right to circle me, perhaps to get to the steps. I step left to cut him off and as he turns towards me. I take one step closer and swoop with the noose and snatch him into the air depositing him into the trap. After taking him down the stairs and into the van, I get paid and am talking with the woman. She says the neighborhood used to be overrun with coons. That she doesn't see them around like she used to. She says; "I don't know what happened to them." I replied, "I do." I'm smiling and pointing at myself, taping my index finger against my chest. I explained that I caught 32 of them for one of her neighbors up the street, just the summer before. She said, "well that makes sense."
24. Shrimp on the BarBe
A woman calls me late in the evening, she sounds really upset. She explains she is trying to cook her husband a steak on the grill, that he works second shift and wanted it close to ready when he walked in. She said that when she turned around after flipping the steak she is surrounded by 3 raccoons. They wanted the food. They liked the smell and wanted to at least sample it a little. She said she managed to get away and make it inside the house and that the steak was probably burning by now. She said she had enough and wanted them OUT!!!
We agreed to set up the next day as it was late and not an emergency, besides her husband would be home then and would help if the neighbors gave her any trouble, I inquire about the neighbors. She tells how they feed the coons and that is why there are a bunch of them. It turns out there were only 11, but still, knowing how much trouble a single coon can be, how much damage even one coon can do to a house, 11 was a nice sized catch. When I get there and the neighbors see the traps they were civil towards me after I explained I was a Lake County Nuisance Trapper, licensed by the State. Their daughter never stopped sobbing. I could hear her crying though the tall wooden fence kept her hidden from view. I hate to break anyone's heart, but the woman had a legitimate gripe here and was within her rights to live in peace without being harassed by large raccoons. The larger a raccoon gets, the meaner they can be, and certainly the more damage they are capable of. The worst damaged homes I see are always the work of a large coon flexing it's muscles, always! It's as if they learn they are strong enough to rip off siding and tear a hole through wood and move into your attic, so they do it, and take over. Raccoons think the attic is their attic and they hope "you" will move out soon.
25. A Buzzing down under
A Customer in Eastlake smells skunk and I'm off to the rescue. Walking up the driveway I see about 50 or more pieces of white-bread on the driveway near the side door. They were trying to be nice to the birds and help them get through the winter. I explain that whatever isn't eaten by dark is an attractant to the skunks ("all" nocturnal critters) to feed on and is playing a large part in their having moved in under the house. They tell of how they hear this loud buzzy sound from under the floor. There, in the crawlspace, are a whole slew of skunks fighting over breeding rights. It happens every February, I explain, it starts in mid January, peaks through Feb. and trickles into March even. If a female skunk is born late in the year she doesn't hit her first estrus period until late, it's only natural. When it's time to breed, nothing will keep males from going out in search of receptive females so even during blizzards I am out picking up multiple catches of males skunks, and females in heat, looking for a mate. There is only one area where they are able to dig and get under their house, I set 2 traps there. The next day I get the call, 2 skunks to be picked up, 2 more the next day, and the next, and the next and yet again the next. Day after day the same news, two skunks to be picked up, a seemingly endless flurry of skunks being caught. It hits 12, then 14 the next day and every day that I hear from them they say the same thing, 2 skunks caught and they still hear the buzzing sound, there are still more under there! The catch hits 20 and they tell me they didn't hear any buzzy sounds like before but there must be more under there because they could still hear something moving around down there. The next morning they call to tell me the 21st skunk is caught, and only golden silence from below. Through the coming days no other skunks were caught and silence holds. That was 1990, 20 years ago! That's a pretty long time to hold a record!
26. A few "CONS" to consider before you, DIY
If you are bitten by a wild animal, you should contact either "The Lake County Health Department" or your own private doctor immediately. Rabies is a huge concern these days in Lake County, Ohio. Several species are carrying it, besides the common host; “Bats”. Other animals are now also on the list as extremely likely; Skunks (also a host animal and known carrier) as well as; Raccoons, and Opossums. Fox and Coyote are also a concern/threat. Any animal bite should ALWAYS be handled with a doctor’s attention at once! Now, do you still want to do that raccoon job yourself? My best advice with coons is always this; It's fine if you want to learn to raccoon trap, but when one is living in your attic it isn’t the right time to teach your raccoon everything you don’t know about coon trapping. A trap shy, trap conscious raccoon, is a much harder animal to catch and will likely end up costing you a lot more money than if you had called a professional in immediately. Besides, if you attempt to relocate one, as soon as your car hits the street you are in violation of transporting a wild animal without a license. State Game Officials don't have a sense of humor on that. Then there's things like roundworm, with microscopic eggs you can’t see. They're lethal and are especially fatal to children, and still more. Raccoons have a fungus that can also grow on human skin. And the list goes on. I’ll have to do a separate story about how bad raccoons with fleas can be. Mange. Rabies.
FYI... No animals were ever allowed to be released at a State Park, another violation waiting for you when spotted by a Park Ranger. You probably don’t have the proper markings on the trap so there’s another common violation. God forbid a coon ever escapes the trap while in your trunk. He might rip a hole through your backseat quite fast and join you. Perhaps you won't even know he escaped until he rips out all the wires and your brake lights no longer work and someone rear ends you, or a Policeman stops you asking how long your lights have been out, only to open the trunk and have it leap out onto him, biting him, and you are arrested. The Judge won't throw the book at you, he'll probably just use it to beat you to death, lol. This probably sounds like a worst case scenario to you, but I see raccoons in garbage cans with "Coon-Proof" lids and devises that customers bought to keep them out. Non professional traps are notorious for allowing animals to escape, especially the old style traps which open when they roll onto their side. Raccoons carry both feline distemper and Parvo, besides their own (raccoon) strain of the deadly disease, so both your cats and dogs are at risk. I’ve also seen raccoons kill and eat cats and smaller dogs over their food. The male raccoons will eat the babies of a mother raccoon, they’re savage animals. Their naturally bold nature makes them an animal to be taken seriously. I’ve seen some horrible things they do when they are at their worst. I would never want one hanging around my house, and would NEVER encourage one to return by offering it food or lodging. They are the number one nuisance animal I get called out for the most, more than skunks or any other animal. They are very destructive to homes. I’ve seen them tear a hole in a one month old (new) house, right through the very center of the roof, not a place they typically go for, but it happens. They don’t play by the rules. They sometimes do things totally against what ordinary coons are supposed to do in a particular situation. I’ve had many people call me telling me how the raccoon chased them inside. Mother coons with babies nearby will drive humans off or bite you in the process. Never get between a large older momma coon and her young, especially if she has raised them for 2-3 months and their bond is strong. Some raccoons, when they bite you, don’t let go for a long while. I saw a man’s thumb which a coon had bitten, his nail was split all the way in half and the flesh ripped open. It wasn't the first time I had to deliver a coons head to the Health Department for Rabies testing. The brain (intact) has to be tested, so never shoot an animal in the head if it has bitten you or you'll be getting the whole series of rabies vaccine shots. Hopefully your doctor will get you vaccine made from humans that were bitten. The type made from duck embryos had to be (painfully) given through the stomach. Do you still want to trap your own raccoon? If you go to the Mentor Library you can find a book by “The Johns Hopkins University” titled; "Rabies" that tells a story about a group of people who were pre-immunized against rabies with vaccine made from duck embryos. After getting the shots they were contacted again, and told that the makers of the vaccine hadn't properly killed the rabies virus in it, and all of them were now rabid,.... bring on the rabies shots.
27. I'm "NOT" moving!!!
So you think you've heard it all, how about this one? Did you ever move into a new house? It's final, the papers are signed, then you get to move in. You go to bed the first night in your new home. The baby is asleep in the other room, you're exhausted and fall into a deep sleep, worn out from carrying all those boxes. In the morning you see bones from a rotisserie chicken on the floor and scattered like something was feeding on the scraps. Could mice have done this you wonder? The next day you get up to find a dirty plate in the sink is licked clean, you notice it because you know it had been coated with food and now its looks almost like its been washed. That night you hear someone is downstairs but don't find anyone anywhere. Your husband has checked every room and closet, nothing, no one! The next day when you get up to find the garbage tipped over in the kitchen and the bag pulled out of it halfway and food scraps are all over the floor, you wonder if it's a big rat. You start thinking about calling in a trapper. You've never seen any dropping and are reading about how mice and rats leave them where they eat, doing it repeatedly as they eat. But you can't find a single dropping anywhere. Then, that night you are sure you hear something again downstairs and are determined to catch it in the act so you tip-toe slowly and silently to the hallway and flip on the Hall light. You see a streaking motion of an animal running into the spare room, you'd swear it was a cat. You go to the room and slam the door closed and wake your husband telling him it's in there. He finds nothing. They decide to call in a professional trapper. I ring their bell and they tell me this entire story. I go to the room, there's always an explanation. I see a few ceiling panels are missing and assure them a cat can jump that high. Looking into the opening I see cat fur everywhere. Because of the insulation I can't see the cat, but I know he's in there hiding. The last people who lived there probably couldn't get their cat to come out so they decided to just leave it behind. They are so incredibly stupid they don't bother to tell you, they just leave it and pretend it never happened. Unbelievable!!! I set a trap and remove the cat the next day, shaking my head. They say they are going to sue them for the cost of the trapping and any damages. They want to know where it went to do it's business,,, yep, in the ceiling, where else. Of course it isn't the first time I've seen this happen. Once a family moved out and left their pet Boa Constrictor behind. They might have foolishly assumed it escaped the house and ran off to the Islands, but it was behind the steps. There was a 2 inch gap it had slithered through. So the next time you move into a new home, be sure to listen for the boogeyman. He comes in various shapes and sizes. Some day I'm going to inspect someone's attic and find a homeless person living in it, hiding quietly. I wouldn't be surprised, I've seen everything else.
28. A Raccoon's Nose
A Woman living in a trailer park hires me to catch a skunk living under her trailer. The air is thick with the stench. It's breeding season so I'm not surprised. I set a trap and the next day there is a raccoon in the trap with a rotting skunk's dead carcass in there with it. I realized the coon was so turned off by the stink of it that he dragged it out from under the trailer and right into the trap. The important thing to note is that I couldn't get under the trailer to search for a dead skunk, so if the raccoon hadn't brought it out from under there, it would still be under there. That raccoon had done the woman an immense favor. taking away the rotting carcass got rid of most of her smelly problems, plus she was rid of a raccoon she didn't even know she had, and neither did I. It was a rare occurrence where a raccoon actually earned the price of his removal.
29. This Little Pinky
I get a lot of customers who tell me they have an albino skunk they want me to catch. The reality is, a true albino is a real rarity. An all white skunk is not an albino. Skunks come in all black more often than all white, but they can have any degree of white, from a tiny narrow stripe, to wide glorious white flags running well down along both their sides. Many "mostly-black" skunks have just the white stripe that runs along their snout to their head which is customarily bearing a white patch of it's own. The difference between a true albino and an all white skunk is simple. True albino's have pink eyes and pink claws. The claws are almost clear, quite transparent actually. The underlying pink cuticles show through easily. "All-white" skunks have black eyes and black claws. In my entire career which spans several decades, I've only seen two true albino skunks! One was in Willoughby, the other came from Wickliffe. I'd guess I've seen around 2-3 dozen "totally white" skunks, which is still a small number. I've handled thousands of skunks. An all black skunk is rather common, and I see them (roughly speaking) every week, sometimes several times a week. The Wickliffe Albino skunk is shown (minus tail) on the HOME PAGE. Because the albino trait is a recessive gene it is actually a weakness. Albino's are much more sensitive to bright light. The Willoughby albino skunk was blind in one eye and was quite sick when I got to it. it was near death, laying near the customer's backyard fence.
30. Rocky Raccoon
The report was that a raccoon was sitting near the customer's front door and wouldn't leave. They were afraid to risk using the door and rightfully so. He was still sitting there when I arrived. He was easy to spot and hard to miss. I sat an open trap nearby and approached him with my noose. He sat still, not growling, showing no signs of hostility. At least not until he charged me at full speed! Then just as suddenly he had a distemper fit and fell almost at my feet, perhaps 3-4 feet from me. He started shaking and convulsing, totally incapacitated for the moment. Wasting no time, and thankful for the golden opportunity to get him while he was unable to offer any protest or inflict any harm, I scooped him up with my trusty ole short noose. Moments later he was fully alert again, and looking at me through the confines of the trap. Some days things just click, others, well you know. But for this day, timing was everything, and it couldn't have gotten any better than that!
"My World" Records
The record raccoon catch (you read about earlier) is 69, in Willoughby Hills. The most skunks at one location was 21 adult skunks under a house in Eastlake, trapped during the breeding season in February. The largest skunk catch with babies is 19, there were 17 babies and 2 mothers, all under a man's back porch. The largest skunk litter I've had was 9, which I've seem many times. The largest raccoon litter was 7 babies seen only once, the crowd lived in Wickliffe, the mother was quite huge, very well fed and all her babies appeared plump and equally healthy. Obviously a human benefactor was involved in the Mother's diet. The largest rat ever caught was 18" from tip of tail to it's nose, caught also in Wickliffe. The most rats caught in one house is 10 rats in 2 days, in Painesville. The most raccoons in an air-conditioner on a factory's roof was 16 raccoons, the catch consisted of 4 mothers (one was also a grandmother) and 12 babies, in Willoughby. The largest colony of Bats; (I estimate) between 5,000 to 10,000 in an attic in Perry, they were wall to wall. The largest opossum litter seen was 17 babies. The most skunks caught in one trap (all at once) is 5 babies, it's happened to me twice. The most raccoons caught in one trap was 3, a mom with 2 of her babies, in Eastlake. 3 baby coons caught in one trap, I've seen happen several times, in various cities. The most groundhogs to come out of a single hole with no other holes anywhere near the area is 13, all adults. The most groundhogs at one location (of all ages) is 26, in the Mentor/Willoughby area. The record number of times a customer called me for trapping, in one year, is 5 times, in North Mentor. The most species to come out of the same network of groundhog tunnels dug under a single shed is 3; one location had a groundhog, a skunk and a rabbit, in Mentor. And another location had a groundhog, a skunk, and a raccoon, in Fairport Harbour, in 2011. The "new" record number of flying squirrels in one attic at the same time was set early in 2012 in Concord TWP. with a whopping number of 12 of the little gliders! The record fastest catch I've ever made (with a baited trap) was about 30 seconds, mice and chipmunks, its happened several times too! A new 2nd highest catch of raccoons took place in the summer of 2012 in Mentor Headlands with a catch of 49 coons, all "passing through" the exact same property!
And speaking of records, did you know a opossum has 50 teeth? The most of any mammal.
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