Friday, September 25, 2009

Close Encounters of the Animal Kind: Yikes!

I went out late last night to return rental movies that were due back to Blockbuster -- and of course, we had forgotten ... hence the late night outing. When I pulled into the drive, upon my return, a family of raccoons was waiting to greet me. They scared me half to death at first! My heart literally skipped a few beats because their presence was so totally unexpected. Three rotund fur balls -- these guys are definitely well feed! -- sat, not 10 feet away from me, on the densely wooded hill that borders our neighbor's property and ours.

Coming face to face with these masked little bandits is the closest that I've been to wild animals without having glass, or a fence, between me and them in a long time. But, I'll take these cute little critters to any of my other wild animal encounters hands down (including, but not limited to: a 4-5 inch diameter, > 6 ft. in  length, snake crawling right across my little Girl Scout feet as I tried to take a shortcut from my meeting through a tall grassy field in northern California. Had my eyes closed for most of that encounter, so I don't know if the snake had a rattle at the end, or not ... I was completely frozen!; Lots of other snakes including a sidewinder, in Arizona, and coiled king snake, that I nearly stepped right on top of!  I could have sworn that one was a rattler;

A tarantula and many, many scorpions ... even unknowingly slept with one once ... but thankfully, didn't get stung; Stepped on a big, 3 inch diameter, hairy black spider -- not intentionally ... of course -- but he got me back by biting me on my big toe ... OUCH! 

Lots of lizards ... most of them pretty cute, but skittish; Also, the head of a giant giraffe sticking its entire enormous head -- don't realize how big these things actually are until you're right up next to one -- through the sun roof of Ken's Porsche to help himself to the bucket of feed -- with the biggest tongue that I've ever seen! -- at an animal adventure safari park;

And one MEAN giant armadillo that I ran into in a dark parking lot upon my return from a late night bicycle ride while in college ... those things are crazy scary! Green glowing eyes ... loud hissing ... wicked claws and huge teeth! The thing probably would've charged me if I hadn't gotten the hell out there, quickly!) !!

But these raccoons were kind of cute and curious ... not afraid at all ... which really surprised me. Two of them got up on their hind legs -- like a bear, for lack of a better image ... didn't know that they could do that?! -- in an almost playful manner. But don't worry, I resisted the urge to reach out and pet them. : )

At least now, I know who has been crawling around on my roof and peeking into my skylights, leaving half eaten plums on my decks, and making my dog bark periodically throughout the day and night. I'll try to keep my camera handy and see if I can catch them on film. Erynn Jeanne got to see them with me, but the other kids haven't yet. Hopefully, they'll get a chance! I wonder: if these raccoons can get up on their hind legs and stand so gracefully, can they dance? : )

P.S. As I said above, these photos aren't mine.  Will try to catch ours on film.  As I was browsing for raccoon photos:  I came across this one.  I think: 'Uh oh ... hadn't thought about this prospect?   Wonder if they are living under our house?  Wonder if that is a problem?  Are these guys breeders like mice?  Do they carry diseases that can affect my dog and the kids?'  Have to look into that ...

KEN SAYS:  "If you want to see some 'local wildlife':  Just  head to the [shopping] mall!"  : )

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