In an earlier blog post, I reflected that it was possible to distinguish an authentic ‘wild’ Canadian from a more recent arrival by how they react to raccoons.
I think my transition to full Canadian is at least 50% complete now – this is not to do with being an actual Canadian these days (with passport and everything), but rather with tomatoes.
More specifically, our home-grown tomatoes.
More specifically still, our home-grown tomatoes that the raccoons seem to be rather keen on, and have worked out how to get at despite the protective netting!
So, my current status is balanced between wanting raccoons to visit because they make for nice photographs, and wanting to scream naughty words at the blighters for devouring things they didn’t ought to!
It seems that one easy way to distinguish between a real live Canadian (one of the wild ones) and a relative newcomer to the country is to look at how they react to raccoons: the newcomers tend to think that the raccoons are terribly cute and splendid, whilst the more established folk are more included to have a reaction that could be characterised as ‘yuk!’.
The main reason for the ‘yuk’ goes by the catchy name of Baylisascaris procyonis, or the raccoon roundworm; this can infect humans (it tends to be kids) who come into contact with raccoon faeces, whereupon they migrate to the brain and cause fairly serious damage.
Short version: don’t eat raccoon poo!
I still feel that raccoons are still rather splendid creatures though – I clearly haven’t been here long enough…!
This was taken from Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Islands, utilising an ND filter to allow a longer exposure; Toronto at night is almost verging on pretty…
Unfortunately, I’d missed that last ferry back from this end of the islands and had to walk back to Centre Island to catch a later ferry, with a scavenging raccoon (who seemed especially keen on pizza) to keep me company whilst I waited.
As most people know, the raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a very common animal all over North America; in the days before leaving the UK, I had even read an article (In BBC Wildlife magazine) explaining that not only were they very common, but the ones in the Toronto area were, on average, larger than the regular ones and had an extra offspring each season.
Essentially, I was half expecting Canada to be knee-deep in raccoons.
I was a trifle surprised then, after arriving, not to see hair nor hide of the things; not a hint of a masked face, nor tip of a stripy tail!
It took almost a year in country before I caught sight of my first raccoon; this image was taken at Crawford Lake conservation area and has been framed and cropped to try and exclude as much of the wreckage from the rubbish bag the raccoon had purloined as possible! on more recent visits, I’ve noticed that the rubbish bins at this location are now somewhat more securely closed…