You’ve probably seen raccoons dunk their food in water and then roll it between their hands. Despite how it looks, they’re not washing it. In the wild, raccoons will forage in nooks and crannies of streams and rivers for aquatic prey like fish and crawfish. 

When in captivity, or even when stealing your dog’s food in your backyard, they follow the same pattern. Their hands contain many touch receptors that help them to “see” their food underwater, and by rolling the food between their hands, they’re actually gathering information about it. 

Besides their food, raccoons also use their hands (the palms of which are hairless) to investigate many other things in their world. Aren’t they amazing?

We took in animal #2,500 for 2015 earlier this week. This Western Grebe is what’s considered a “road strike” case. At night, these birds fly from place to place and when they see asphalt lit up (by street lights or even headlights), it looks like water to them. They attempt to land on it but find, to their horror, that it’s not a lake. The problem with grebes landing on roadways has to do with their anatomy: Because they are aquatic birds, their legs are too far back on their bodies to allow them to adequately walk on land. If they cannot stumble their way to a body of water during the night, death becomes a real possibility. Coyotes will eat them, cars will hit them, or starvation will occur if they can’t find live fish. It is a chaotic experience.

This one got lucky. A caring woman picked it up and brought it to us from Lakewood in afternoon traffic. NaTasha, our wildlife manager, was able to release the bird into a lake the next day. We love happy endings, don’t you?

Another glue trap horror story involved a mama Deermouse with quite a few babies. A pest control specialist discovered a nest with the babies in a house. Worried, the homeowner called SSCC and asked if they could bring them in. Our wildlife manager, NaTasha, talked with the homeowners and inquired if another Deermouse (the mother) might be nearby. There was, but they were not sure if it was the mother and proceeded to use a glue trap to catch her. They called again, even more worried because she was stuck to the trap, so NaTasha told them to bring her in with the babies. Because her stomach was glued to the trap, it wasn’t immediately clear if she was the mother. Olive oil was used to carefully remove her from the trap, and she was then given a bath using Dawn dishwashing soap. After removing her from the glue trap, we could see she was indeed the mother and were able to reunite her with her babies. Mama and babies, who are now weaned, did very well in our care and were released.

Not every outcome is as happy as this, so please reconsider using glue traps in or around your home. Live traps are a much better option. For more information on how to get along with wildlife, please check out “Living with Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest” from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at this link: http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/book/.