It’s been a long winter for us raccoons, and now that the snow is just starting to melt, I’m out strolling along the cover of the low woods next to human neighborhoods, watching for any signs of vole problems.
Yeah, as a raccoon, I eat just about anything. Garbage and pet food pretty much got me through the winter, and sweet corn crops haven’t come up yet. Right now, it’s the perfect season for spotting voles, and they are deeelicious!! They’re all fattened up from eating grass roots and tree bark. Over the winter, especially, they move through yards, golf courses or orchards virtually undetected by the humans, since they usually keep just below the snow line. Most of their predators are eating somewhere else or are in hibernation, so they get all fat and juicy. Perfect as an early spring feast for me!
The trick is, I wait until the weather finally warms up enough for the snow to start melting. Sometimes I can actually see one of the tasty snacks running above ground, but more often I see the tell-tale signs as the snow melts: trails of dead grass running through the lawn, trees with exposed rings around the bases, flowers and shrubs eaten away, the traces of last year’s vegetable garden completely consumed. It’s pretty obvious when a home or business has a vole problem.
I wait until nighttime, when I get the hungriest and go out to forage for food. I might roll over the garbage can for an appetizer, move onto the second course of pet food left out on the porch, take a brief nap and then move onto the final course. I saunter out, sniffing, listening, and I find a hole with a little tiny scrabbling or rustling noise that I can barely hear. Suddenly, I’ll start digging with my amazing paws, shoving my snout down into the hole that’s getting wider and wider by the second. Then, quickly, SNAP! My wonderfully sharp teeth close around the juicy little critter.
The great thing is, voles breed pretty quickly, so where there’s one, there’s more. And other little yummies like to follow or use the vole’s burrows and trails – mice, rats, chipmunks. It’s literally an all-you-can-eat buffet for me! And now that I’m here, I might as well take up residence. That building is pretty easy to get into, with a little bit of chewing and clawing, I should be able to get on in. I bet I could make a pretty great den inside that chimney or up in the attic. It’d be warm, there might even be a little insulation I can use for nesting materials, and there’s obviously plenty to eat here. These humans have no idea, yet. Their vole problem just became a raccoon problem.