Our bank account is a couple hundred dollars lighter as of about five minutes ago, when I sent Tim Walker from Animals Be Gone on his way for assessing then addressing a raccoon problem in our attic. And yet, I'd have paid him more if we'd needed to.
I'm not keen on woodland creatures, especially ones who make their way into my home and make ominous noises in the night. My wife isn't a big fan either, and today she undertook the journey through the tiny trap door into our unfinished attic. I'd actually been up there a week ago, looking around to see if we could potentially add a couple rooms there in the near future. Even took photographs of the place:
But I saw no evidence of anything living up there. (I did see a lot of light coming through spaces between roof and walls, which probably happened/happens when the house's foundation settles. It's through these entrances and a few places where the squirrels in the neighborhood have gnawed through boards that our guests have arrived.)
So when Smart Wife went up there this morning, I heard her holler "Well, it's a raccoon. I'M COMING DOWN NOW" and I rushed to steady the ladder for her descent. She had spied him, little masked face staring back at her in the beam of her flashlight. She replaced the panel that covers the entry to the attic, changed her clothes and washed her hands thoroughly.
I called the Durham animal control center who does not do this kind of removal service "unless the animal is in the living quarters." Shudder. No ma'am, he's in the attic. I had Animals Be Gone recommended, and I called them immediately. Smart Wife decided to go for her run with the baby and stroller while the situation was brought under control.
Tim Walker, who runs the company with his brother, showed up around 1:30pm. He told me he'd grown up around animals and had also spent many years in construction, thus making this job a great combination of his two passions.
We took a walk around our old house, and Tim pointed out the huge gaps that were where the animals were getting in. He, too, went up the ladder to the attic. On his way up, Tim mentioned that, if we had raccoons in the attic this time of year, it was probably a mother and her babies. "And you don't want to remove the mama, 'cause then the babies'll just starve and stink up the attic in a couple of weeks." No, that sounds like a good reason to leave her alone.
"Peter, do you have a garbage bag you could send up to me?" Oh sure. Hell, why not just toss 'em down the hole toward me, and I'll scamper after them as they flee? I thought.
Turned out that what had probably been up there was the father raccoon, eating one of the babies. Tim described it in perhaps more detail than I would have liked, but I certainly now understand another not-very-cuddly aspect of the animal kingdom I was not really in touch with before.
"I'll show it to you when I get down the ladder." Er, that's okay, Tim. "Sure you don't want to confirm?" I'll take your word for it.
After disposing of the mauled carcass ("just skin and skull, really") in the back of his truck, Tim returned with some meat-fed coyote scent which he sprayed throughout the attic, at least in all the places he could get to. That was to discourage the mother from bringing her babies back up there. He let me smell the scent, and I definitely wouldn't hang out in a room that smelled like that either.
Tim explained that we probably will hear sounds tonight, which would be Mom checking the place out and then dispatching hastily from the Coyote Lounge up there; but it shouldn't be more than a couple nights. I told him we'd call him on Monday whether we heard activity or not, maybe only to hear Tim's soothing voice again.
I don't think we're going to mention the raccoon to the four-year-old. He spent a lot of time hunting down and hugging Flattop, the Merlefest raccoon mascot; I don't imagine he'd want to know how Flattop spends time with his runty children.