Yep, arriving on Tuesday, charming us all, covered in plenty of hair and bottle-feeding like a champ, it's . . .
a RACCOON ?!?!?!?! Yep! He joined our family on Tuesday, when we found him, apparently motherless, in the woods behind our house. We took him in and gave him plenty of love. Thus began a great adventure in the world of raccoon parenting. We named him Bandit and fed him puppy formula from a bottle. He chirped when you scratched his back and had a habit of pooping on us. In doing some internet research, we found that raccoons can make great, though unpredictable, pets. We also found out that raccoons are illegal to keep as pets in Utah. I called a wildlife rehabilitatator in Heber, who offered to meet me that day at Bridal Veil Falls and take the critter off our hands. He said the statute in Utah states that since raccoons are not native to the state, they should be dispatched upon capture. However, he said he did not like to do that, so he took care of them until they were old enough, then took them out five miles from civilization to release them. He seemed quite a character, and more than understood when I told him we’d like to keep our new baby for a while. We took care of him until Saturday, feeding him from a bottle 4 or 5 times a day, taking him outside with us, and helping the twins to take turns with him. Eliza loved him as well.
On Saturday I arranged to drive to Heber to drop Bandit off and see this man’s place. I was very curious about what he does, and I thought the kids would enjoy it too. When he gave me directions, he described it as “hillbilly heaven,” and that’s pretty much what I found when we arrived. He’d told me he kept goats, but I hadn’t expected the huge number that wandered the yard, nor the dozen dogs, the chickens and lamas and peacocks and geese and whatnot found everywhere. I’d left Eliza home, but everyone else was as fascinated by this place as I was. We could clearly see a large cage on his front porch with 5 or 6 half-grown raccoons inside. He took Bandit inside to raise with a few other younger coons, then showed us some of his animals. The man looked like Santa Claus and obviously loved his animals. The goats were very tame and very friendly. Did I mention they were all over the place? Hundreds of them! We left after a short time because I was tired of corralling the twins, who could not contain their excitement even when warned that one of the dogs was prone to bite. They also wanted to collect all the feathers on the ground, which was bare of all vegetation and covered with goat droppings. After a liberal amount of hand sanitizer, we drove home, glad that Bandit had a new home but grateful we had a chance to get to know him.