We live in a typical Florida subdivision. By this I mean that we live with rows of houses built way to close because that makes them less vulnerable in hurricanes. And we belong to an HOA, which means we pay money to have total strangers tell us that our garbage cans were left out too long or we have weeds in our cracks. For that kind if information, you'd think they'd at least take us to dinner first, but whatever.
Although we have quite a lot of neighbors around, we do have conservation land behind our house, meaning there's a small area of woods there. And occasionally, we have critters that come out of those woods to pay us a visit. Critters like this raccoon:
and this possum:
Please note, these pictures are mere representations of the creatures that invaded our yard. The actual creatures were not cooperative about being photographed.
When the boys actually remembered to put our garbage cans in back of the house after trash pick-up, these friendly little visitors would dig through the cans, eat whatever they thought was worthy, and then fling the rest of the garbage all over our backyard.
At first my mighty hunters wanted to open an upstairs window and wait for the marauders. But since that let the air conditioning out and the heat, humidity and bugs in, I squashed that idea. So then my main hunter, Indiana Jones himself, bought a trap to use in catching these little garbage thieves.
This is not the actual trap, because it also refused to cooperate with photographs. But it's a pretty close imitation.
So all of my guys got involved with "baiting" the trap--meaning putting a little good-tasting(?) garbage inside it--and trying to catch the beasts that were invading our garbage.
The first morning they all tore down the stairs and went to see if they had caught anything. The bait was gone, and the trap was twisted and stretched. Apparently they caught something that proceeded to rip the trap apart in its effort to get away. Were we trying to catch a raccoon or a miniature Mighty Joe Young?
Nothing daunted, Indiana repaired the trap and reinforced it to withstand the incredible strength of our creature. To the boys' disappointment, they discovered the next morning that the creature had used the trap as a stepping stool, climbing up on top of it in order to reach into our garbage can.
This was one smart critter.
They moved the trap further away from the garbage can and continued their pursuit. They ended up baiting the trap multiple times a day, and nearly tearing their hair out as they tried to discover how the creature was getting the bait but not springing the trap.
I maintained that they were clearly teaching the critter where to come for his food, and that by now, all his little buddies were hearing about the saps that lived in the corner house as well. In short, I was pretty sure we were probably attracting more creatures than ever before. Not to mention the neighborhood dogs.
No one listened to my nay-saying, and their efforts to catch this clever little bandit redoubled. Finally one night this past week, they sat up in the family room until almost 1:30 in the morning, alternately watching a movie and listening for sounds in the backyard. When they heard the trap, all of them raced to the window like a distorted version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. (I opted for the sensible choice of going to bed over waiting for our friendly neighborhood rodent to make an appearance.)
My hunters were greeted by an amazing sight: a possum had indeed gone for the bait and sprung the trap. But there was also a raccoon out there. Apparently, the raccoon had opened the trap door and let the possum back out. When my guys appeared, the two crafty burglars took off for the woods.
When I heard about these two escapees from the Wonderful World of Disney, I hinted that perhaps the jig was up and they should quit feeding the wild animals. But with true grace, Indiana acknowledged the intelligence of his foe and observed that this battle was just now getting interesting.
So how did these two scavengers figure out the trap? Obviously, they found the discarded instruction manual in our garbage cans, of course!