A friend of a friend left the house while an electrician was doing some work in the kitchen. When she got back a couple of hours later, the electrician said, “How did you get your cat and your raccoon to get along so well?”
“Pardon?” the woman said.

“The cat and the raccoon,” the electrician said. “Right after you left, the raccoon came through the cat door and waddled across the kitchen and started eating out of the cat food bowl. The cat just watched him do it. It was the dernedest thing. I wouldn’t have thought you could keep a pet cat and a pet raccoon together.”

“But I don’t have a pet raccoon,” the woman said.

Apparently a wild raccoon had been coming through the cat door and into the house, and on a regular enough basis that the cat was used to it. I guess the raccoon knew to wait until the homeowner’s car left the driveway, though it didn’t seem to understand the significance of the electrician’s truck out front.

Today’s Audience Participation Friday topic is mammal encounters. Tell us your anecdotes about wild mammals you have known, from field mice to possums to bears. Armadillos, by the way, are mammals. A surprising number of people think armadillos are a kind of reptile, but they are as mammalian as you are and are therefore eligible for this APF. Dolphins and whales, I don’t have to remind you, are also mammals.

  • Anonymous
    3:00 PM, 8 July 2011

    In 2005 I was visiting friends who were visiting their family in Pine Mountain, CA (near Ojai) which is located in the Los Padres National Forest.  One evening my friend’s brother called to say he’d spotted a bear rummaging around outside, so he, his wife and son, and I jumped in the car to see if we could get a look.  By the time we got to the brother’s house, which was just a short distance away, the bear was gone, but we drove around the neighborhood hoping we might spot him.  Well, sure enough, about 25 yards in front of our car the bear bolted across the road, a beautiful cinnamon brown color.  Apparently he was hightailing it out of there, and we were pretty satisfied to have seen a live bear in the wild.  We made our way back home, and shortly thereafter off to bed.  My sleeping arrangements were quite comfortable, an air mattress on the living room floor, which adjoined to the kitchen for a fairly large, open space. (Now, the informed, Feechified readers of this blog are probably quite aware of the fact that bears have an amazing sense of smell – apparently able to smell food up to a mile or more away.  Tuck that fact away for later.) 
    Well, in the middle of the night, I am jolted out of my slumber by a crash in the kitchen.  I stood up and looked at the window over the kitchen sink, and there was a dark silhouette filling up most of the space.  Instantly I thought, “The bear!”  Reacting – which is all one can do in such a moment – I clapped my hands very loudly and the bear took off.  I raced down the hallway to where my friend, David was sleeping, and loudly whispered “David, the bear!”  He jumped out of bed, threw on some jeans, grabbed a flashlight, and went outside to have a look around (yeah, he’s got some Feechie blood in him for sure).  We didn’t see the bruin again, but could hear the neighborhood dogs barking in succession as he skedaddled down the mountain away from the house. 

    After the adrenaline slowed, we did a bit of detective work and figured out what led to this mammal encounter.  A bagel with some honey on it had been fixed for David’s dad as a snack  before bed, but he decided not to eat it, and it had been left on the kitchen counter.  The window over the sink was left open, and apparently the bear caught a waft of this snack.  Directly beneath the window, which looked out onto the back porch, there was a plastic/Rubbermaid storage bench.  The bear had made his way onto the porch, crawled up on the bench, and pushed his head through the screen in an effort to get to the honey-laden bread.  When he did so, he knocked the glass soap dispenser down into the porcelain sink, which caused the clatter that initially roused me from my sleep. 

    Finally, it was back to bed, and I resumed my place on the mattress in the living room floor.  Not surprisingly, sleep didn’t come easily, and for a while the smallest noises made me wide-eyed (the refrigerator kicking on, for instance).  Also, I started running scenarios through my head of what I would have done had the bear made it through the window – a subject that made for some good laughs the next day as everyone took a turn. 

    Though not the stuff of Doyno’s “Mungo and the Bear,” I suppose this could make for a mildly entertaining song at a Feechiesing. 

  • Dan Kulp
    3:00 PM, 8 July 2011

    My mom relates the story (I may have been 2) of hanging out the laundry on the line and a bat dropped out of the tree and started scurrying towards her.  She ran inside and called 911 saying “a bat is my yard. I don’t know, it might be rabbid.” 
    They hung up on here.

    She called back and they said “Okay, well send someone over.”  An officer showed up and the bat was repeatedly trying to climb up the pear tree but falling after about 2 feet of success.

    The officer stepped on the bat’s wing, shot twice, dropped it in a brown bag and drove away.  2 minutes.

  • Dan Kulp
    3:34 PM, 8 July 2011

    At around 11, I was playing backyard football with 3 other friends one day.  Mark was a tough stringy kid, 1 year older than us but the same grade due to an extended time away for a broken leg during an elementary school.  Mark sprinted into the endzone as he often did but this time ended differently.  He looked up into the brushline and dropped the ball.  He took two steps back and called us over to see the groundhog in the tree.
    We didn’t believe him as it would be a proper “made you look” trick followed by a punch in the arm.  Truly there was a groundhog in a spindly tree about 7 feet off the ground.  We ran to grab Mark’s ever wise and much cooler 16 y/o brother.  The brother wasn’t around but the slightly cooler Steve was for some reason.  So Steve comes out to see the groundhog, still in the tree.  He then ran upto the porch and grabbed the broom as it was the only weapon on hand.

    He hit the bugger out of the tree, it dropped straight down and received two more whacks before scurrying under the shed.  It would’ve received a fourth whack had the broom not been broken at #3.

    Steve Flowers
    over kids he towers.
    But higher yet, and amazing to see;
    Was a groundhog in a tree.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      3:43 PM, 8 July 2011

      It’s been too long since we’ve seen a clerihew from you, Dan. Thanks. 
      A groundhog in a tree truly is a marvel. At the age of 11 I would have assumed it was a sign of the end times and eaten any and all candy that I might have stashed away. 

    • Dan R.
      2:02 AM, 9 July 2011

      I think “the slightly cooler” might be my favorite epithet this week.Maybe even next week!  (it is Friday after all)

  • Aaron Roughton
    5:27 PM, 8 July 2011

    Hello, my name is Aaron.  I’m new around here.
    Once upon a time in Florida my wife and I were staying with some friends at a little place on the intercoastal for vacation. My favorite aspect of the hotel was that it had a fleet of motor boats that you could take out whenever you wanted to.  We spent the week fishing and motoring around the intercoastal waterways, always hoping to spot a manatee, but without any luck.

    On the last day, the wives were tired of boating, so we dropped them at the dock.  My buddy and I headed back out to sea, and minutes into our trip we saw something splashing around in a shallow area.  As we got closer, we realized it was not one, but 5 manatees frolicking at the surface.  We turned off the boat motor and oared up to within 10 feet of the party.  We sat in silence and watched them for about 15 minutes, before they finally dispersed in different directions.

    Needless to say, we didn’t have cameras, and our wives still don’t believe the story.

    The end.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      5:33 PM, 8 July 2011

      Hello, Aaron, and welcome. I believe your manatee story. Motorboats and manatees aren’t the most felicitous combination ever, but I’m glad it worked out in this case. 
      Also, thanks for reminding us of a fact that is easily forgotten: Manatees are mammals too.

      • Aaron Roughton
        6:54 PM, 8 July 2011

        As long as you’re trusting me, I also saw a Florida panther once.  It crossed the road in front of me late one night in Tallahassee.  I thought it was a large dog until it looked at me with its gigantic eyes.  It was a beautiful thing.
        And I once got abducted by the legendary skunk ape in the everglades.  That was NOT beautiful.

  • Mikebates
    5:59 PM, 8 July 2011

    This morning I came home from work at about 3 a.m. and walking around the yard to check on the humming bird feeders and cat food bowls and the tomato plants, I rounded the corner of the garage and almost tripped over an armadillo. He was almost as surprised as I. He looked like he was possibly afflicted with leprosy  or something because the last couple inches of his tail were missing. Here in the dry and dusty mesquite country the feechies have fled because of the lack of rain,(no rain, no swamps) and the armadillos are succumbing to Hansen’s, (No armadillo, no feechie food). 

  • EmmaJ
    6:14 PM, 8 July 2011

    Jonathan, thank you for recognizing the value of including the armadillo. Back in the good ol’ days of 2005, I wrote a blog entry about that venerable animal which shall be my contribution. A leprosy carrier he may be, and yet we love him still (from a moderate distance). The careful reader will note that this writing seems to have preceded my introduction to the joys of capitalization.
    tales of the unlikely superhero
    texas… it’s a funny place. i’ve been living here for a bit now, so
    i’ve done a fair amount of observing and figuring this place out. this
    state is known for a lot of things, most notably for having a lot of
    Really Big Stuff. “everything’s bigger in texas,” they tell you. like a
    lot of absolute statements, however, this is only partly true and easily
    proven false. trees in texas, for instance, are decidedly not
    big. insects, however, are obliging enough to grow to gargantuan
    proportions. one thing that doesn’t show up in any tourist info that i
    know of if is that texas has a lot of what have been referred to by one
    friend as, “hurty things:” things that poke you and make you itch and
    sneeze. my location is particularly toxic in terms of air quality,
    causing some persons who shall remain nameless to cloak themselves
    astronaut-style in as much coverage as possible before embarking on
    brief but daring forays into the great outdoors.
    but i digress… what i really want to talk about is an unsung local
    hero. much maligned due to a certain clumsiness of gait and movement,
    and rumored to be a bit of a dim bulb, but nevertheless magical in his
    own special way. who is this mysterious entity, you ask? none other than
    the humble and unassuming armadillo, mainly seen blundering about like
    the clark kent side of superman minus glasses (maybe corrective lenses
    would help… but it could be just a clever ruse – who can tell).
    i was cleaning up trash last weekend with other dutiful youth set on
    making a contribution to the world (or at least the neighborhood), and
    in between getting caught on barbed wire and freakishly large thorns, my
    companions and i were able to chat a bit. i happened to mention a
    recent encounter with a certain bumbling nocturnal quadraped, which
    yielded a grand discovery: both of these young ladies had had an
    armadillo adventure! with their permission, i would like to share a few
    tales of splendid armadillo encounters. so, without further ado…
    jessica was leaving the office one afternoon, camera in hand. truth
    be told she was feeling a bit low – sometimes even pretty girls and
    brilliant photographers get the blues. on her way home, however, she
    encountered our friend, the armadillo, who was very obliging in leading
    jessica on a whimsically unplanned photo shoot, which was just what she
    needed to cheer her up. if that’s not heroic, i don’t know what is.
    ruth was having a nice visit with her mom, sister and a friend from
    home. they had all had a grand time, but there was just one thing
    missing: they hadn’t seen a single armadillo. alas for the melancholy
    disappointments of life, but there are some things you just have to
    resign yourself to. they were all a bit saddened to realize this, but
    not totally in despair. as they walked about the grounds of ruth’s
    school, she was remarking on the sad lack of an armadillo sighting, when
    at that very moment, as if on cue, an armadillo leapt from the foliage
    and bounded across the path in front of them (in my mind he’s wearing a
    red cape), much to their surprise and delight! the trip was saved and
    (as far as i know) they have continued to live happily ever after.
    as for myself, i have now encountered armadillos on several
    occassions, and it is an endless source of amusement to me to find
    evidence of their snorfely nocturnal diggings. gigantic four-legged pill
    bugs with vinyl-like armor and tiny, pointed ears, they always make me
    smile. even though (maybe because?) they’re clumsy and incredibly noisy
    as they stumble around in the leaves in my back yard late at night. and i
    love when they let you get really close to them and then realize you’re
    there and take off running, crashing through the underbrush like only
    an armadillo can.

    • EmmaJ
      6:16 PM, 8 July 2011

      Argh. Formatting fail again. Paragraph breaks gone.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      9:56 PM, 8 July 2011

      I love armadillos. When we were in Georgia a few weeks ago, we ran across four of the friendliest armadillos I’ve ever seen. They didn’t run away from my boys, who held and petted them–if you can call rubbing a vinyl shell ‘petting.’ Hopefully they didn’t catch leprosy from the little guys.
      Below is a picture of the same boys several years ago with an armadillo they pulled out of a hole on their grandparents’ farm.

  • Mikebates
    7:24 PM, 8 July 2011

    I can see Texas from my front porch; it looks pretty big from here.

  • Jess
    8:26 PM, 8 July 2011

    Dang it, awful formatting again. Sorry.

  • Jess
    8:26 PM, 8 July 2011

    Dunno if this counts as an encounter, but here goes. A
    couple years ago, my dad, my younger sibs, and I were on one of our long winter
    hikes (winter as in early November, a short layer of snow on the ground, and us
    wearing shorts because we like to be tough and wear shorts whenever barely
    possible) in the foothills near our house. I was racing my one of my little
    bros up a hill when Papa called us back to look at something. There were tracks
    in the snow, crossing the trail. We had trampled most of them, but there were
    enough good paw-prints for my dad to say, “Those aren’t dog prints, are they?”
    We looked at them for a few seconds. “Uh, they probably are. Just big ones. A
    big dog.” Papa snapped a couple of pictures, but we thought no more of it until
    almost a month later.

    We were hiking again. It was January, and it had been a warm
    week with cold nights so that the snow melted and froze again, making quite a
    few icy patches on the trail. I slipped and fell on one of them, and got slowly
    up with the help of my dad. He looked at the patch where I had slipped, said “Hey!”
    and peered a little closer. There was a set of blurred, icy tracks. “Look at
    those!” I looked. They looked like more big dog prints to me, even bigger
    because they were melted all around the edges. But Papa took more pictures, and
    when we got home, he made use of the Internet that is so handy in times of doubt.

    Later on that day, he told us that he thought those prints
    we had found, both times, were mountain lion prints. “See, if they were dog
    prints, there would be little claw marks on each of the toes. And a dog print
    doesn’t have those three distinct bumps on the back of the pad.” He was
    excited. We were mildly interested.

    And yes, it was the very next day that Papa banged open my
    bedroom door at six in the morning and yelled, “Who wants to go tracking?” And
    he proceeded to tell about the rattling sound he had heard in the night and the
    tracks he had found in the fresh snow that morning. I dragged myself out of bed
    to please him, and went a looked at the prints. There were tons of them,
    criss-crossing over the yard, around the house, and by Papa’s trailer. And they
    were big. Papa had me take pictures of them, grumbling all the time that if the
    window hadn’t been frozen shut last night, he could have seen it.

    We emailed the pics to a tracking website, and they
    confirmed that they were mountain lion tracks. Papa was very pleased. I bought
    him a tracking book for Christmas.

    By the way, here’s the link to the website. They posted my pictures and explained them better than I could. http://www.bear-tracker.com/mountainliontracks.html

    • Jonathan Rogers
      9:58 PM, 8 July 2011

      Mountain lions? Very impressive. I assume you’re not lying, like Aaron, who claims to have seen a Florida panther.

      • Jess
        10:10 PM, 8 July 2011

         I cannot tell a lie. At least, most of the time I can’t. But that is beside the point. This tale is as true as the Wilderking prophecy.

  • […] to bring my answer here (it certainly is long enough to be a post). So first, Jonathan’s Audience Participation topic for today: Tell us your anecdotes about wild mammals you have known, from field mice to possums to […]

  • Anonymous
    5:13 AM, 9 July 2011

    Squirrels and I have never gotten along.  In recent years, we have had an uneasy truce – they leave me alone, and I don’t blow them out of my oak tree with a 12-gauge.  However, before the commencement of our armistice, tensions were frequently quite high. 
    Perhaps the finest example of this enmity was the St. Louis Zoo Incident of ’06.

    There I was, minding my own business, when an impertinent little squirrel scampered across the zoo pathway, chittered some extremely impolite speculations about my heritage,  and promptly sought refuge in a nearby recycling bin.

    Enraged at the squirrel’s intolerable cheekiness, I took my zoo map, crossed quickly to the recycling bin, and clamped the map firmly over the bin’s small, round opening.

    For 90 glorious seconds, I was lord and master of the zoo.  The squirrel exploded with rage, ricocheting around in the bin like a rubber bullet shot from a high-caliber rifle into a barrel of eels. His rage at being shut into the bin was enormous, and the irony of this scene taking place in a zoo did not escape me.

    As a small crowd began to gather, it became apparent that it was time for the better part of valor to take precedence.  I stepped carefully as far away from the bin as I could get, all the while holding my makeshift squirrel-stopper in place over the opening.  Then, in a flash, I let go of the map and took several prudently large steps away from the bin.

    The squirrel exploded forth into the sunlight, his disease-ridden teeth dripping with rage, his tail bristlier than the Fuller Brush Man’s sample case after a bad mixup with a luggage carousel.  

    Most disconcertingly, though,  he knew who I was.  He also knew where I was, and he was determined to chase me down to avenge his honor.  

    I don’t really remember what happened next.  Everything gets a little hazy.  I guess if I needed to blame something, I could blame the post-traumatic stress syndrome. 

    For what it’s worth, my wife tells me I screamed like a little girl.  She says I then sought refuge in the penguin exhibit, slamming the door behind me as if I were trying to keep out an army of zombies.  However, I have my doubts about that, as it seems like an uncharacteristic course of action for me.

  • Melda Estelwen
    3:55 PM, 9 July 2011

    We have woodchuck problems where we live.  They have plagued us for years, eating Mommy’s garden.  Recently we got a humane trap and have been capturing them and letting them go elsewhere, but before that we got rid of them in any way we could.  Before I go any further animal lovers may want to leave, this story is somewhat brutal.  Have the animal lovers left?  Good, we may now proceed. 
    Now before we got the cage there were several weapons typically used to deter woodchucks, these include, but are not limited to a pellet gun, rocks, and large sticks.  One day when I was maybe 7, my sister 8, and my brother 4, we saw a woodchuck in our garden, eating our food!  So we called Mommy, the only one allowed to touch the pellet gun, and we went out to see what we could do to ‘remove’ the woodchuck from our garden.  We trooped up to the garden, I had a stick, my sister a rock about as big as her head.  Usually the woodchuck saw us and ran, but today he foolishly stayed.  My Mom took aim and fired.  She was way to close to miss.  Unfortunately she didn’t kill him.  Realizing how stupid he had been to stay he tried to make his escape, but he was to late.  My sister threw her rock at him, now she has bad aim, but somehow she managed to hit him in the face.  I was standing a little ways back, I had no desire to meet an angry woodchuck.  From where I was standing I could see the entire woodchuck clearly.  “Mommy,”  I shouted.  “The woodchuck’s face is bleeding!” 
    Mommy took aim again and fired.  This time he fell never to move again.  We marched back inside triumphantly.  Our garden was safe, until next year, when it’s babies came back for revenge. 

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