More on Number Eight

I wrote last week about our raccoon-trapping in the barn. We had caught seven raccoons to date and were working on trapping Number Eight, who was obviously more intelligent than his/her previous masked comrades, numbers 1-7. At that time, we had been trying to trap it for about a week with no success. The first two nights, Number Eight had gotten caught in the trap but figured out how to escape, and then after that, it ate the bait but never again sprung the trap. I reported that it was becoming very frustrating to be outwitted by a racoon, and I promised to update you — the reason for this blog.

If I thought it was frustrating trying to trap him last week, I had little understanding what frustration can be! We have been setting the trap nightly ever since, and every night Number Eight eats the bait and walks right out of the unsprung trap! We’ve tried everything we could think of to catch this critter: setting the mechanism for a “hair trigger,” strapping the bait can to the trap with zip ties, and washing out the trap to remove any lingering scents. Nothing has worked. Number Eight eats the bait each night as if we’ve opened a new Rocky Raccoon food chain for his/her dining pleasure!

This past weekend we were visiting my friend Melissa and noticed their live trap. Not only is the closing mechanism different, but the trigger is much more sensitive, and the whole things looks different from the trap we have been using. Since they were taking a break from trapping their weasel, we asked whether we could borrow the trap so we could try to trick our raccoon into springing it. Knowing of our frustrations with Number Eight, they readily agreed, and we brought the new trap home.

The first night we used it was Sunday. We decided to continue to set up the old trap right where it had been for the past couple of weeks, with the same bait inside. However, we only put about half of the bait into the old trap and then put the rest into the new trap sitting right next to it. Our thought was that since Number Eight was confident in its ability to outwit the old trap, he/she would also assume that the new trap could be easily conquered the next time hunger struck.

Unfortunately, such logic totally escaped Number Eight. On Monday morning, we once again found the old trap empty of any bait and the new trap totally untouched. It still had its bait in place, hair trigger at the ready, and little pile of raccoon scat in the middle of the trap, only inches from the trigger. AARGH! Have I mentioned that this is getting really frustrating?!

So Monday night we decided no more nice-guy restaurant for raccoons! We closed the old trap and set only the new trap with the usual can of cat food at the very back. We were sure this would be it. The sun was barely thinking about rising over the horizon as Rick made his way out to the barn Tuesday morning.  He wanted to make sure that he would have time to take Number Eight to the wildlife area before work, since he and I were both sure this would be the day. Everything was in deep shadow as he followed the path around the back of the house and through the pine trees.

He rounded the corner and entered the barn, wondering about this very challenging raccoon. What would it look like in person?  Its scat told us it was small, but its seeming intelligence reflected years of observation, escapes, and near-misses. Rick wasn’t sure what to expect as he rounded the stack of hay that blocked his view from the door. As the trap came into sight, a quick look told him that YES, the trap was sprung!  And a dark mass was huddled in the back of the trap.  FINALLY, success!

He hurried back to the door of the barn and turned on the lights to better see this creature that had evaded our trapping efforts for so long. With the barn now well lit, Rick returned quietly to the trap to have a better look.  As he approached the trap, he heard only silence. Unlike our previous captures, this time there was no hissing, no scratching to escape, no throaty groaning — just silence.
As he bent down to get a good look, Rick realized that huddled within the trap was our cat, Socks, sitting embarrassed in the very back.  Rick opened the trap and poor Socks walked out, turned back with a look of “Sorry. Boy, am I stupid!” and then ran out the open barn door into the morning sunrise.
The good news is that we now know that the new trap works. The bad news: we still have to work on catching Number Eight.


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  • Brenda says:

    I don’t know much about trapping, but what if you somehow wove some clear monofilament fishing line around inside the cage to trip it up.

  • Jane says:

    The tipoff, besides the whole introduction was, “we used the trap the first time on Sunday”. My heart sank, but… new information on Friday! Honestly, better than a soap opera any day.m

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