Raccoons often create large communal latrines along the paths that they frequent. Likely spots to look for them include the base of good-sized conifers, especially those near water, as well as on top of stone walls, rotting logs or under rock outcroppings. Often latrines are located near denning or resting sites. The pictured latrine was located on a path between two bodies of water, and was totally hidden by tall grasses. Raccoon scat can carry the parasitic roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis, which can be fatal in humans, so it’s best not to handle their scat.
Two nights ago good friends called to report that an animal had been screaming in their woods for about five hours, and asked if I knew what creature sounded like a human baby crying. Because I am naturally curious, I had to see for myself what was making this commotion, so I headed over to the woods by their house. It was immediately apparent from the cries that whatever was making them was in the forest canopy. Looking up, you could see the leaves moving quite dramatically, and then suddenly, WHUMP! A large porcupine fell out of the sky and onto the ground a mere 10 feet from where we stood. It’s hard to say who was more surprised, the porcupine or the humans who narrowly escaped having a porcupine fall on their heads. Upon close examination, it appeared that the porcupine must have tangled with one of its brethren, for several quills were sticking out of its face, with the pointed ends in the porcupine’s skin. Apparently no bones were broken, as it eventually ambled off and climbed a nearby tree. Perhaps a territorial dispute? One can only hope that somehow the porcupine miraculously manages to extract these newly acquired quills.