The wildlife around here has trained me pretty well. Each night before going to bed, I of course make the rounds outside leaving food for the many visitors that come through these parts after dark. Depending on who I’m feeding and where they’re dining, I leave things like fruits (e.g., apples, cantaloupe, blueberries, persimmons, pineapple, and grapes), nuts (e.g., almonds, pecans, walnuts, and peanuts in the shell), vegetables (e.g., corn, green beans, tomatoes, and asparagus), seeds (e.g., sunflower seeds and pistachio kernels), cooked meat (e.g., chicken and fish), and miscellaneous items (e.g., whole grain bread, natural cheeses, and limited and infrequent cat food). There are even times when I’ll leave them something interesting like a cookie (Strawberry Newtons are a special favorite of the opossums; interestingly enough, most of the raccoons don’t like those).
Last night was no different. I left goodies in various places. For the raccoons, a cache of items left inside the fence on the patio, the menu consisted of plain almonds, diced apple, sweet corn, plain peanuts, and whole wheat toast broken up into chunks. You just wish your life was this good, huh?
All ready to climb into bed around 11 PM, I heard a bit of commotion outside and immediately recognized it as the raccoons scaling the fence. They’re quite accustomed to me moving around inside while they’re eating outside, so they don’t mind what I’m doing — although they will stop and take notice of me when I get close to the glass, a brief pause to ensure I’m not invading their space. I made my way to the living room patio doors and sat down quietly to watch them. Only two arrived, but that was just fine with me and certainly more than enough entertainment for The Kids who have learned that Daddy puts on a great show with whatever he’s doing outside (they get a lot of free wildlife interaction now).
I sat quietly as the raccoons began eating the food put out for them. The most fascinating thing about watching them eat is how they use their front paws like hands. They feel for food items and pick them up to eat them, or at least that’s what they do most of the time; usually when they’re alone, I’ve occasionally seen them eat directly off the ground without picking it up first. As these two ate their meal, there were a few scuffles as they pushed each other away from the pile. That was when I saw them do something I’d never seen raccoons do before.
When the larger one yelled and pushed at the smaller one, the little raccoon turned around and pushed across the pile of food with his ass end. I laughed at it as a bizarre attempt to get some food. It was only after they both did it several times to get to some of the meal while the other one was eating that I realized it must be normal behavior for them. Considering how mean raccoons are (many predators won’t even attack them given how violent they can be), what I was watching with the “kiss my ass” approach to dining was the safest way to get some food without risking a face in the process. They would simply turn around and back up across the food while pushing the other one out of the way.
It was quite humorous, I’ll admit. I’ve never seen that before. Perhaps they don’t pose as much of a threat that way since they certainly were less violent when pushing each other around with their asses. I suppose they aren’t seen as competition for the food or a challenge when approaching in this manner, and I certainly know they are at less of a risk in that position. I’ll look it up later to see what the theories are for this particular trick, but no explanation will diminish the entertainment value in watching them back around the patio just to get some food. It’s quite entertaining; well, it was for me anyway.