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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Renard the Recycler
I was woken at 2am this morning by the sound of someone moving the bins at the front of my house, followed by a stealthy hissing sound, not unlike a spray can being deployed. Hesitantly I peered from my bedroom window (directly above my front door), to see a very large and healthy fox sorting through the food recycling bin, the contents of which were lavishly spread across the pavement. Clearly it had found a way to undo the bin's fox-proof handle, which I distinctly remember putting in place yesterday afternoon.

It looked up at me. "Can you be bothered to come and chase me?"

"No really," I replied in the same language. This too was recycling of a kind, after all. And clearing up the pavement this morning I was most impressed with how thorough it had been. The only things spurned were an eggshell, a squeezed lemon, and the butt end of an iceberg lettuce. The pork ribs and the rejected cat food were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps Bristol city council should employ foxes in preference to Viridor?

Ignore him; he's just trying to get a contract with the BBC Wildlife Unit.

Probably so!

I read a story one about someone who had a black bear break into their (empty,) house. Bear went to the pantry and refrig. Bear punctured cans and ate insides, it drank a six-pack of beer. It ate everything except a can of sauerkraut!

When we lived in Florida we had a sliding door. We used to put food out for stray cats there,there was a colony of about 10 interrelated cats. We used to lie down in our darkened living room, on the floor, with the outside light on, to watch through the slider as they came to eat. In addition to cats we also attracted a raccoon. He had a limp and no tail. (We called him Bob.) He would creep up to the dish, and eat with his hands. He became used to me enough that he did not run away if I opened the door to put food out. He would sidle back about 10 feet and wait. If we put water out he would wash the cat-food in it. He made such a mess that we also attracted ants. A very shy armadillo sometimes came to eat those. They ran away at the first flicker of shadow from indoors.

Bob and the cats came at the same time-- he deferred to them.They would just shove him bodily aside. After they went the armadillo. And on one memorable night we saw an opossum with her babies on her back!

I know they say nobody should feet stray cat colonies. But we felt we were feeding a whole little world. Also, my daughter who was 6 or so then, made a pedigree chart of the cats, and took it to school.

But foxes. I have never seen a wild fox.

Foxes are quite common in Bristol - and I think in a lot of English cities, these days - but this was an exceptionally fine specimen. I'd love to have an armadillo in the 'hood.

Our cats used to defer to the raccoons. The raccoons were the first through the cat door into the screened porch, where the cat food dish was. The cats sat outside, waiting their turn.

Raccoons are the animals that behave in this manner where I live. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a fox, outside of a zoo.

Nor have I seen a raccoon, either in a zoo or out of one. I'd like to.

When I stayed with Susan Cooper in Massachusetts last summer I was very surprised to hear that she'd had a visit from a coyote not long before. Under the influence of Warner Brothers I'd thought of them as confined to the western deserts, chasing roadrunners.

Conversely, that skunks, raccoons and chipmunks were all shown running around the English countryside in the 1996 remake of 101 Dalmatians is still a source of puzzlement and wonder to me. Hollywood clearly has a solvent effect on geography as on other aspects of reality.

Skunks we also get here, chipmunks less so. Coyotes prowl around here occasionally, but what gets really exciting is the appearance, deep into settled areas, of the occasional individual of the species variously known as pumas, mountain lions, or (less commonly used hereabouts) cougars or panthers.

I didn't see the remake of 101 Dalmatians, but I remember the original Disney animated version with the car chase through the cliffs and mountain roads of Suffolk. As if.

I smelled skunk on the wind, here in Brooklyn this week. Skunks can go urban with no trouble. They love human garbage. Racoons too.

I have only seen a coyote once, in Waldon woods, I expect he was living deliberately...

I did see a skunk on Martha's Vineyard once - and smelt them more often...

The Vineyard is a paradise for skunks. And you know, ther smell is not unpleasant when distant.

Real life in South Africa

A good friend of mine who then lived on the coast north of Cape Town came downstairs after hearing a noise in her kitchen - she was alone in the house - armed with her son's old cricket bat. The intruder she feared was indeed an intruder -- a huge male baboon snacking calmly on a banana.

Re: Real life in South Africa

I think the baboon wins this thread.

At least foxes are native to your part of the world. They're just a nuisance here in Australia where some idiot in colonial times thought it might be nice to be able to go fox hunting. And with no natural enemies...well... :-(

If only they predated cane toads, that would be something.

I don't think they can eat cane toads. That's the problem, isn't t? It would be nice if two pests could wipe each other out. :-)