Raquel: A beautiful female raccoon, she was an incredible
insight into the world of animals.
At the age of 10 my father
got a 3 day old baby raccoon for me to raise, I named him “Racky”. Up until that time it was
baby song birds that I rescued so this was a treat. What I know now about these animals gives me a better
insight into why my mother was so upset.
have hands like ours so they can open things. They have an intelligence superior to dog or cats.
That is primarily due to the instinct of having to survive in the wild still in them. A wild
animal will always exhibit a “Fight or Fight” response, it is up to you to learn which one they will choose.
You pray you have made the right choice when you react to a situation.
babies along with most mammal babies are treated gingerly and tended by the mother. A mother animal protecting
her young is a fierce thing; she will fight to the death to save her young.
She nurses them and washes them with her tongue. She nuzzles them and plays
with them and will give a nip when it is too much. She takes them from the nest as they mature and follow
her every move about the wild. Learning everything they can and must from her in order to survive.
It was understanding this particular matter that made me so intrigued and a good rehabilitator.
Raquel was found at a pet store in 1986. She was only a few weeks old and her eyes
were still close. I knew instantly that if some one bought her and didn’t know how to handle her,
she would be doomed. So I talked my then fiancé to buy her for me. Now he had
no idea what a raccoon could do, he had no clue what he was in for…..
of her at this time was like taking care of an infant. Bottles every four hours, burping, tummy rubbing
and stimulating for urine and feces to move. I did draw a line at using my tongue for this along with cleaning
instead using a warm wash cloth.
At first she was cute and cuddly and a lot
of fun to play with. But as she grew she bonded to me and became a bit nippy with other family members.
Her world revolved around her and me. Every place I went she went, following right behind my every
We would go outside and play in the yard, she would
wander off, but not out of sight as she got older, exploring nature. We developed a vocabulary of different
commands with no being number one. Load up, night night, love you, and give a hug all verbal commands were
rewarded with a response from her. I could see the individuality in her, a personality a being.
By nine months
of age she developed a sense of independence when she ripped of the bottom drawer of the kitchen cabinets and made it her
den. She then became the biggest thief and if you didn’t get it before she got into her hole it was
long gone. Never to be seen again by humans but a treasure trove for her.
At night I would have to bribe her with food to get her into her night time quarters. Being nocturnal
the last thing you want loose in your house at night or alone is a raccoon!!
As she got older
she bonded more and more with me and became at times a bit aggressive with other family members so she had to get more and
more confined when family or visitors were around.
The times we had together
were very enlightening regarding self identity, awareness, thought process, affection, bonding, sharing and many more emotional
and personal issues presented themselves to me. Again I began to question the aspect of who is their kind????
Her favorite thing to do would be to climb up to where ever I was and wrap her paw in my shirt
and suckle. While doing this she would purr constantly exhibiting very comforting and emotional behavior.
She did this until the day she died. For some reason I always remained a “Mother” figure
to her, I guess because I always played dominate one with her she never developed the mate aspect of our relationship.
I also found most of the above being true in raising my big cat,
“Faith”, a North American Puma that I acquired at 2 weeks old. To this day I can rub on her
and she purrs, also when given a chance she will try to suckle on my hand. I feel bad that I can’t
let her do this due to the fact that her tongue is like sand paper and can take skin off. But she does
exhibit the same characteristics and behavior as the raccoon Raquel. She has self awareness, individuality,
personality and a need for affection, love.
I know this to be true and
so in each living thing that lives on this earth. But what I was to experience with the “Avian”
species would far out exceed what I have learned and experienced with the “Mammal” species.
a beautiful Sandhill Crane was the first one that ever took me as a mate. The only reason I can
think of this behavior happening with them was that I had no need to be the dominate nor the enforcer or disciplinarian.
Kaley came from a nest that was going under water after a lot of rain flooded the swamp his parents
selected to nest in. A wildlife photographer had been documenting the nest and when arriving one morning
after a night of rain saw that his sibling had hatched and drowned, the parents were frantic so he took the egg safely home
After a call to a local Ornitholigest who then called
me, the chick ended up a part of our life here.
When I picked him up
he was so tiny and I knew I was in trouble. I had no permanent “Sand Hill Cranes” for this
youngster to look at and knew of no one who did. The end result is an “imprint”
that is to dangerous to release back into the wild so in essence I was taking on a life time commitment.
Just like Raquel, he followed me every where when I took him out
for walks and later to learn foraging. Later at about 3 months he would follow every one around the yard, foraging or waiting
for hand outs. He would follow my husband every where in the yard. While mowing or digging
a choice bug may appear. It was also quite funny, instead of a man and his dog it was a man and his crane.
Kaley was an adolescent here on the property for 4 years before showing explicit signs of mating behavior.
It was a wonderful experience to dance around the yard throwing sticks and grass in the air and jumping in circles
with a crane. It was not a haphazard movement, but choreography of steps and movements.
If any one had ever stumbled upon us they would of thought me to be crazy!! What
a sight we made and at the end he would trumpet proudly and call. I was quite surprised to learn that this
particular bird “Purrs” also, just like a cat,
of contentment surprised me but I began experimenting with it in different tones and different times and soon found myself
communicating with him.
Kaley being a male and my
not being able to lay eggs for him and go through the breeding cycle left him some what confused,
At the time it didn’t occur to me because I didn’t know then what I know and have experienced now with
Lili Crane which I will write about later.
a nuisance and had to be contained when ever a non family member was on the property. This was the beging
of my seeing and studying a “Pecking Order” that developed among all the animals living together on property.
This is another studied animal behavior that warrants further explanation later.