LITTLE AMBASSADORS AT WORK…
One day a neighbor came to visit and see Ranger and Bandit. She fell in love with the little rascals also. Deb teaches special needs children and thought they would love to see real raccoons. A week was spent with Deb telling the children about raccoons, showing them pictures of raccoons and where they live, and generally learning the basics. The following week I took Bandy and Ranger to visit their class. The children were so excited and so were the teachers! Their class had invited another class to join them and they all sat in a half circle while I showed the kits and told all about how we rescued them. I let each child pet a baby and let the teachers hold them. One of the little boys that was difficult to manage and didn’t speak very much came up to me all on his own and said “Thank you, I love raccoons!”. My heart melted, these little animals were bringing out the best in these children and it was a wonderful treat for me to witness this transformation.
All this time Bandit and Ranger were living in a cage in my office and entertaining me each day as I worked. They were growing so quickly and needed a new and much larger space. I would be taking care of them until Spring when they would be grown enough to release back into nature, but there was no way they could be house pets for that long, at least not if we wanted to still have our house standing!
Jack, built a “raccoon run” at the end of our double garage. We used the same hutch that our squirrel, Dolly Marie, had and then added a long run to the back of it so the raccoons would have a place to play as they began to grow. All-in-all their new “digs” were about 4 feet deep by 4 feet tall by 15 feet wide. The run was made from heavy gauge steel wire panels and was attached to the back side of the hutch and the top of the run was made of wire. The hutch had a rectangular doorway cut out in the back so the kits could go in and out to play in the run at will. The hutch had a steel wire front to it so they could see out, and it had a separate compartment with a mouse hole shaped doorway to access it. Bandy and Ranger would sleep together in the wood-enclosed end compartment which also had a hinged door/plank we could open to take them out. The bottom of the wire run had about 4 inches of straw in it so they would have a fun place to play, dig and generally wreak havoc! The wire run had a large entrance door with hinges so we could remove and replace straw, toys, litter box, food, water, etc. It was a wonderful home fore the kits and they absolutely loved it!
The first time we put them in the hutch they stayed in there and peeked out through the door to the run and looked a little scared. Now I have been known to do silly things before, so in about an hour I climbed into the run to coax the kits out to play.
Quickly “Ranger the Adventurous” climbed into the run. We had placed a section of wood log below the door so they could use it as a step. Bandy watched as Ranger ran back and forth from one end of the run to the other until he was totally worn out and just lay down on the straw to catch his breath. Bandit finally came out and did the same thing! Soon they began to charge at each other, tossing straw and wrestling like two little boys will do. They were climbing all over me and playing. Oh my but they were enjoying themselves! We had a litter box for them off in a corner with a “privacy” screen for them. They were already litter trained from when I had them in the small cage in my office. They had their food dish and a water dish in the other end of the run. I would usually feed them first thing in the morning, around noon and again about six o’clock in the evening. They had some toys in there to play with, the teddy bear, a ball, some sticks and a cat carrier that they liked to climb into and hide from each other.
A VISIT TO SOUTHERN UTAH…
When the babies were still small I had to make a trip to Southern Utah to see my daughter Ali so I decided to take Ranger and Bandy with me so she could meet them. They made the ride in their carrier strapped into the back seat of my car. Ranger laid over Bandit the whole way, because he was Bandit’s ”protector” and wanted to keep his brother safe.
Needless to say Ali was as smitten as I was! We had fun just watching them, playing with them and feeding them. Her cat, Spud, had no interest in these two strange visitors. One evening we put little harnesses and leashes on them and took them for a walk. Were they ever a neighborhood sensation! People came running out of their houses with their cameras to take pictures of this adorable duo, and people driving by just had to stop their cars and get out and look at them and talk to us about them. We had many neighborhood children following us down the street like a mini-parade! Bandit and Ranger weren’t used to leashes and wanted to keep running from side to side which just about tripped us every few feet or so.
Ranger and Bandit became tired and decided to sit on a lawn in the shade so we let them rest for a little while then carried them home for a much deserved nap.
To be continued…
Copyright 2009, Jan C. Snow
The continuing saga of Ranger and Bandit, our rescued raccons.