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Re: interesting visitor

Not Zem, Kitty, but FWIW.  

The current wisdom is not to feed wildlife.  That said, I've been
feeding raccoons for years. Heck, I think we feed half the wildlife
in this area:-)  The one thing to keep in mind, if you choose to
feed, is that you need to keep it up.  Feeding wildlife permits more
animals to occupy a territory than it might otherwise support and if
you suddenly stop feeding, those animals are going to be hurting. 
Animals become dependent on your hand outs - not for their total
diet, but for a substantial part of it.  Wild animals will always
continue to forage, even if you put out food - you just become one of
their regular stops on their nightly food rounds.  Putting out food,
however, does stop raiding of bird feeders and trash cans or whatever
else they've been raiding - animals take the easiest path to food.

I feed them dry dogfood (the cheap kind) and any table scraps that
aren't compostable - meat, cheese and stale bread or leftover
whatevers - they eat most anything except lettuce and string beans, I
have found.  They love fruit as well as chicken.  

I learned that the best thing is to establish a feeding area removed
from the house - that way they aren't tempted to come in when their
food isn't there.  They will come in if they can and head for any
food source in the house and they can make a mess you can't believe
as they have little hands and are quite capable of opening the
fridge, cupboards, sugar bowls, etc.  You need to watch any pet doors
if you have raccoons around - they learn how to use them, too.  Best
if they don't learn to associate the house with food:-)

I've never had them actually damage any plants although I can well
imagine that anything planted directly under a bird feeder would get
rather mashed from them dropping down off the feeders on to it.  They
will also have altercations among themselves that can lead to
tussles, which, if conducted in a flower bed are not really good for
the flowers.  But, they are very light-footed animals.  I've watched
my lot walk through my borders - you could never tell they'd been

If you put something out for them in one place all the time, that's
where they'll go; they learn fast.  I started feeding them to keep
them out of the bird feeders...they'll take dogfood any day.  Cat
food is preferred, but it tends to be more expensive, so they don't
get it unless my cat has turned up her nose at it and simply won't
eat it.

Nothing edible goes to waste here - if the coons don't get it, the
fox or possums get it or the crows or something else.  I put out a
hambone from Easter for the coons and my son watched the fox grab it
and haul the entire thing away.  Scraps are either composted or put
out for the wildlife.   Somebody also goes through the compost heap
just to make sure there's nothing they want there:-)

One last note on coons..... I have discovered that they
semi-hibernate in really bad weather...like when there's a lot of
snow on the ground.  They will come out in mild spells and look for
food, but if it's snowing, they stay curled up in their nests.  My
guys will come tell me they're out looking if I haven't put anything
out for them.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
Current Article: Wild, Wonderful Aroids Part 5 - Pinellia
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> From: Kitty <kmrsy@comcast.net>
> Zem,
> There's no question about your feelings, but I'd like to ask the
> about not skunks, but raccoons.  I frequently put out a bowl of cat
food for
> a stray cat when he comes by, but he never eats it all.  So, when
he's done
> it's still there in the FL room, which I can see from my tv chair,
> sometimes it's on the carpet just inside the sliding door which I
keep open
> til I go to bed.  Occasionally a raccoon will come and polish it
off, but I
> yell at them when they try to come inthe house and they leave,
although not
> happily.  If they come back several times, within minutes, I shut
the door.
> I have also put a bowl on the front porch a few times when the cat
was out
> front.
> Last night, a small raccoon came by the FL room but there was no
bowl and I
> told him he couldn't come in.  A bit later I noticed my cat
> intently out the front window.  Wehn I went to the front door,
there were
> mom and 3 little babies, they left the porch with dashed hopes of
finding a
> meal.  I watched as they lumbered off across the street.
> I no longer feed birds except in the one expensive bird feeder that
> when weight hits the perch.  The raccoons destroyed all other
feeders.  The
> plants beneath the remaining feeder have been smashed.  I don't
like to
> encourage racoons in my yard because of the damage they do. 
However, I
> don't begrudge any animal a meal and I feel badly for their plight.
> Watching that mama and babies leave with no luck last night was a
sad sight.
> I'm thinking about getting a bag of cheap stuff for them, but fear
> regret the results.
> So what do you all think?  Should I feed the raccoon family?
> Kitty
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <Zemuly@aol.com>
> To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
> Sent: Sunday, July 13, 2003 9:55 AM
> Subject: Re: [CHAT] interesting visitor
> > I have about six skunks who regularly eat my cat food on the
front porch,
> > along with assorted raccoons and possums.  They are all so
accustomed to
> people
> > that when my grandchildren visit they are able to open my front
door and
> watch
> > the zoo through the storm door.  Keeps them well entertained. 
There is
> one
> > little skunk who eats the cat food in the back yard.  We call him
> "Skippy." If
> > he sees me coming he "hides" behind an azalea until I've gone.
> > zem
> > zone 7
> > West TN
> >
> >
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