I read Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” (1997) when it first came out. Like other of Diamonds books, his theories seem painted too broad. But his books still made me think. In discussing human civilizations, he mentions that having domesticable animals is a big boon to a civilization. But postulates that that many factors must be just perfect to have a domesticable animal: flexible diet, fast growth rate, breed in captivity, pleasant disposition, does not panic, modifiable social hierarchy. (see details here)
Though sharing qualities with dogs and cats, raccoons are not considered tamable animals. Mainly because they bite — they inevitably bite; especially when are looking for mates.
I raised several raccoons in my childhood. I had a huge walk in pen with a house up on a tree stump for my coons. I could walk them around the neighborhood, and feed them. But I was the only one who could do it — and only when they were young.
One Spring, when my parents were gone for their annual pilgrimage to the Kentucky Derby leaving us the mean old Mrs. Reinhold (the hired sitter), I decided to play a trick on my younger brothers. I told them they could feed my raccoons, but as soon as they walked in the cage, I looked the door and told them I would not let them out.
My youngest brother was scared and the raccoons picked up on his panic and started hissing at him. Our middle brother protectively jumped between the angry/scared raccoon and our baby brother, but began to be bit. I panicked at the look trying to remember the combination to let my brothers out. My trick had turned disastrous.
Finally, the raccoon stopped biting, I remembered the combo and my brothers came out — one still crying and the other with a bloody hand.
Mrs. Reinhold was angry at us (of course) and refused to drive my bother to the hospital — so we walked. I begged my brothers not to tell my parents, promising to do anything they asked for the remainder of the week — which I did. But of course they told my parents, immediately on their return and I got punished twice.
All to say that raccoons can’t be tamed forever, and human are not trustworthy either.
- This has been another of my many autobiographical posts — see more here.
- See my other raccoon post here