Babe Was Her Name,
My Little Bandit!
It all Began around 1999, when I got a telephone call in Wisconsin Dells, WI. (Where I lived), from two girl friends I knew down in Platteville WI. One of them worked on a big dairy farm down there. Their names were Debbie and Connie, they said the farmer had a cage containing a mother Raccoon with her five baby Kits. I guess the mother Raccoon broke out of the cage and it wasn’t long after that a few Hound Dogs on the farm, well, took her out. Debbie and Connie where freaking out on the phone that they had these six Kits and didn’t know how to feed them. Knowing that I would, they called me! Connie said the kits were close to dying! It was an emergency.
So around 9 or 10 pm. I drove the 2-1/2 hour trip down there as apparently the kits were not going to make it till morning. Not knowing what I was going to see exactly. Yup, worse than I thought. The Kits were very dehydrated and so forth. At this point you should know they were still breast feeding when their Mom was killed. They could barely walk, their eye’s were barely open because of their condition and they only 3-1/2 to 4 inches tall sitting in your hand. Here, is where Debbie and Connie were having a problem. They did have bottles, eye droppers and stuff. But had the Kits for three days and were failing at all their attempts! I said you should have called me sooner! We thought we could handle it, they both stated.
So right away, I had them re-sterilize the bottles and nipples and get a quart of worm whole milk going on the stove. Then stir in three table spoons of creamy peanut butter.
Hint; you won’t need eye droppers, see way and follow this story.
NOTE! If you are trying to save a baby Squirrel(s), they will not live if you don’t use that method. One quart whole milk, three tablespoons creamy peanut Butter.
So, being that the kits were so small, they couldn’t draw the solution from the GIENT nipples Debbie and Connie had and I had to poke a few more needle holes in the rubber nipples and then gently squeeze the bottle so not to drown them either! These pour little critters had their whole faces wrapped around that nipple. Way bigger than their moms. As we all started feeding them you could see them getting better almost instantly! Their eye’s started to clear up, they were moving better, AND they had a lot more to SAY TO! Next thing we knew, we had five HIGH strong Bandits climbing all over us and everything else! Bandits I tell you!
Note; They wanted more but the worst thing you can do is over feed when they were in that state of condition! Wait three to four hours before the next feed. After that feeding you can give them feedings five hours apart till they hesitate. Then stop.
Three days later, with these five Kits/Bandits, climbing ALL OVER everything again. Getting INTO everything. Bandits I tell you! Ha! The story doesn’t end here by NO means!
Now that the five Bandits were in great health and I took it upon myself to take the pick of the litter. Funny, Debbie and Connie were like, take more!!! I simply said NO, one will be more than I care to handle. And I was right!
So I took the one I wanted home with me and gave Her the name Babe. Little did I know I should have named Her BANDIT, with a mask!
At that time I lived in a little cabin about a quarter mile from the Wisconsin River near Wisconsin Dells, WI.
Babe was a real task to deal with. But before I get into ALL that. I had Her on a diet of all kinds of foods because a Raccoon can get FAT in a darn hurry. Using a paper plate, I would put a bit of scrambled eggs, some cut up grapes, some blue berries from my freezer that I harvested in Canada, a few little pieces of cheese and maybe a little piece of chocolate and a shallow dish of water. Usually a pie pan, just to make it seem like a pond at least in my mind anyway. She also loved tune, small pieces of fish, sardines, peanut butter and different fruits.
Note; Raccoons, DO NOT WASH THEIR FOOD! The reason they put the food in water is because they do not have saliva glands in their mouth like we do. So in most case’s they need to get their food wet in order to swallow easier! So, sorry the myth is a myth, Raccoons do NOT wash their food.
So, I took this little one home knowing I had just taken in one of the most conning, sneaky, reckless, destructive, thieving, conniving, a creature that gets into everything and BREAKS everything, masked Bandit! I’m not the first one to write about Raccoons!
Now that I was back at my cabin for the winter, doing a lot of different crafts made out of cedar wood and drift wood. Then one day I went to work leaving her at home. YES, I had her litter box potty trained. Yup, Raccoons are in the Cat family and are easy to litter box train!
Well, Babe, one of the most interesting creatures I ever had. She would do funny things like, go up to my ash trays and because her hands were so sensitive, she would press the ashes down flat with her hands getting some kind a satisfaction out of it. The feeling of the touch of softness for lack of better, I guess!
Another time I noticed their where forest roaches in my cabin under the kitchen sink. Not many but enough that I was like, yuck! Well, One day I noticed there weren’t any more of them. Not knowing where they went, I just figured they just left! Nope. I went to clean Babe’s litter box and as I scooped out her dung. I could see the shells of the roaches in her POOP! She was eating all of them and I didn’t even know it! HA! Thanks Babe! Good Bandit!
While I lived in the cabin, my land lady, landlord, let me stay there all winter while working on my arts and crafts to pay her after I sold them. Which I did, in the spring time. My bandit made it a LITTLE harder for me to do that year.
I was creating a number of art items that were very delicate in a side room in my cabin. I had to keep the door closed for fear Babe would get in there. Well, I didn’t close the door all the way one day and she got in there and destroyed almost all my art projects in less then 9 minutes!
Oh, what’s this? Snapped the object off. What’s this? Snap, Snap, Snap, Snap, Snap, she Snapped off EVERYTHING she could SNAP!!! So I had to figure out some way to contain her without putting Her in a cage, cause I don’t believe in cages. In talking with a guy that had pet Raccoons. He told me a few funny tricks to pull on a Raccoon.
He said the only way to contain a coon is to give them nowhere to go! Build Her a house he said, A house! “I said”! Yup, three feet by three feet by two feet tall! With a Living room/bedroom, a kitchen for eating and tubes to crawl through and stuff. Then hang it six feet off the floor chained to the ceiling. When you need to contain her, put Her up on it. The first time I did I just about died laughing. For three to four hours She climbed in and out of the rooms, under the house, on top of the house, up the chain to the ceiling, feeling the ceiling around in a circle, nowhere to go, back down to the house, through the rooms/tubes, under the house, up the chain feeling the ceiling, back down, up down, up down, up down, while complaining the whole time!!!
I came back in the room because I noticed all the complaining had stopped! She had finally given up and was at the top of the chain just sitting there with her head pressed against the ceiling looking at me! HA, yes, I felt bad but that guy was right! Raccoons won’t jump that far down because of their short front legs, they can’t land right. So I put some Grapes and cheese in her kitchen. Still took her awhile to come down almost as if She was mad at me! Took Her a couple of time outs to figure it was better to sleep in Her living room or bedroom rather then at the ceiling. Most of the day time I had her with me but at night time I had to make Her stay HOME or She would break into things when I slept. Bandit I tell you. Kitchen cabinets, frig. Freezer, you name it, breadbox. There was just about anything She couldn’t break into! After all, their mother started them young showing them how to break out of that cage! I worried She would pick the lock to my craft room!
The other tricks that guy told me about were roll on the floor hysterical. When I had company over to visit. I would take a cake pan 2/3’s filled with water and give her a couple of sugar cubes on a dish. The first cube she grabbed of course dissolve in the water and she searched frantically, spending fifteen to twenty minutes searching for that cube! Thinking it had to be in there somewhere! After finally giving up. She grabbed a second cube and loosing it again! By then all my friends and I were rolling on the floor laughing! Sometimes she would stop, look at the dish of cubes, but still keep searching that water dish cause now there were two cubes in the water somewhere! Too much fun.
The other one was to drop a two inch live fishing minnow in the water and watch her scramble to catch it. You wouldn’t believe how fast they are with their hands in catching fish! Lightning speed. I learned this the hard way early on cause I would always take Her fishing with me and when I’d turn my back, She would clean out my Minnow bucket in ten to fifteen SECONDS! Bandit I tell you.
And so Babe was growing fast as at this point she was a little smaller then a Volley ball. Again I took Babe fishing with me, with my fishing bait kept in a steel Vault! As I’m standing in the weeds next to this really good Trout hole on a little stream. Babe is circling the vault trying to figure out how break into it. HA! Shortly after I pull a really nice 14 inch rainbow trout from the stream. Babe was down the shore behind me about 20 feet away. The fish is right behind me in the weeds still having the hook in its mouth. I had to untangle my fly rod line and all of a sudden my fishing line starts getting tighter! Sure enough I turn around and she’s got that fish by the middle of its back while the fish kicking like crazy but she’s hell bent on steeling that fish from me. When I grabbed her by the back of the neck and of course she growled at me, but the fish was way too big for her ANYWAY! Then she just looked at it and licked it a few times. Way to big a fish for her age. Bandit I tell you.
One day I came home from work expecting her to greet me at the front door as always. She didn’t! I called and called her name! Nothing! Then I started searching the cabin looking everywhere. Calling and searching. Then I heard her softly grown! It came from under my bed! There she was flat on her side barely live. Tears instantly flowed from my eyes as I lifted her gently on to the bed. She was taking her last breaths of air right before my eyes. Balling my eye’s out I placed her on one of my shirts and run to the river and cried for about two hours. Thought for sure she would be gone when I went back to the cabin. But had to go back and give her a proper grave.
I walked into the cabin and into my bedroom pick her up for the grave site. Behold, she was barely sitting up while wobbling around trying to get up. I thought, what the heck! So I just kept trying to keep her calm and continued to watch over her. Hours passed and she just kept getting better and better! It took three days before She could walk normally again. The only thing I could figure I that her equilibrium went out. Then I looked it up and yes, Raccoons did have that problem with their ears quite often! Wow, Babe gave me a heart breaking scare! Didn’t want to lose my Bandit.
Next trip I took her about four hours away from home to The Crystal River in Wisconsin. I knew I was going to have to release Her back into the wild at some point so the more training I could introduce her to the better.
Well, at the stream side I made a circle of rocks of about three feet wide in the water on shore. Then I caught three big Crawdads and put them in the circle of rocks. She was down the bank from me about fifteen feet away again as I called to her. Babe! Come here Babe! She always responded to my voice. Bouncing her way toward me, I already had my hands feeling around in the water in the circle of rocks. Telling her, look here Babe! She instantly started feeling around and got a hold of the biggest Crawdad. This four and a half inch Crawdad Pinched her and with lightning speed She eat both pinchers off before eating the rest of it. I mean lightning speed guys. If I hadn’t been watching closely I would have missed what happened with two blinks of an eye! Then after munching the Crustation. She went right back feeling around for more, but this time snatched another one up but instantly ate the pinchers off before it could pinch Her!!! And the same with the third Crawdad. HA! Then I thought, who’s teaching who here? That happened about mid morning. Bandit I tell you!
Then later that day in the afternoon about three or three thirty. It was time for a fish her own size. So I took my fly rod and went about fifteen feet out into water current much to strong for her. She stood on the back complaining as always. Sepperation from Mom think. Didn’t take long before I caught a four inch river chub. Just what I was after. She was again about fifteen feet down the bank from where I was out in the stream. I called out to her while holding the chub fish wiggling in my finger tips. She sat up, saw what I had. Then I through the fish straight to the bank. She hopped over to it, Tackling it and instantly bit the whole head off munching it down and then ate the rest of the fish! I was like, WOW! So I caught another one. This time she waited on the bank right next to me. Saw me catch the fish and sat up words, come on Mom through it to me! So I did and she did the same thing. Head first. The same thing with the third one. The fourth, well, She just kind of played with it on a full belly, just couldn’t eat anymore. Funny, she would never go too far from me that I can remember. And I could always say, HEY, what are you doing Babe, get back over here. And she would! All in all, I learned she came to me for the soul reason to see what she could STEEL from her own MOTHER! Bandit I tell you! Haven’t you ever heard about Raccoons? The Masked Bandits? Bandit I tell you.
Next, I camped over night at the Crystal River in a tent a Babe next to me, with a lock on the zipper. So I didn’t have to worry about her breaking out of the tent. She was much too tired anyway, with a full belly as well. On the way driving home the next day, it started raining and had to stop the car on the side of the highway to fix the wind shield wipers. As always Babe would climb out the window and on the car to see what Mom was doing and what she could steel. Then I got back on the highway and drove at least three more hours to get home. In my driveway I started calling Babe from under the car seat cause that’s where she always slept on long trips. She didn’t come out! I looked and called, I DARN near ripped the seats out of the car. She wasn’t in there. Then I remembered her coming out when I fixed the windshield wipers. And I remembered hearing a thump sound on the back of my car when I got back on the highway. Not realizing it was my little Babe going off the back of the car. Even till this day it’s hard to tell this story!
Right away I drove the three hours all the way back to the EXACT spot that I stopped. She was not dead along the road by the cars! So I started yelling, Babe! Babe! And I waited. Babe! Babe! And I waited. Again and again I called out for a couple of hours. Nothing. There is just as much salt in my tears now as the ones I had then on the side of that road. I waited and called and waited. I felt that if drove away. I would abandon her a second time. She was still much too little to fend for her-self yet. This wasn’t a feeling of time go on your own thing.
Or an order of when a mother has to send their kits into the world alone. This was a not being able to tell them it’s time for you to get out of the house. I do remember how hard it was to drive away again. That night I feared she would come back to that highway looking for me. because She always knew exactly where I was and always stayed by me! So the next day I went back again, driving back and forth as any Mother would. Then drove back a third day. At that point, all the napkins I had filled with salt, had no room for more, as I was not going find Babe, She was on her own but with good training. Then the Unthinkable happened.
The very next day after I stopped looking for Babe. Two Sheriff cars and a DNR car came ripping up my driveway. Turned out the Lady next door called in that I had a Raccoon! In Wisconsin you cannot have a Raccoon without a fur bearing license. Which I did Know! They took samples of her dung from the litter box in my cabin. And then the DNR Warden gave me a ticket for possession of a wild animal without a fur bearing license! HA! So I went to court and I asked the Magistrate. Am I not able to feed a Raccoon at my door step just as people feed a squirrel? I asked other questions as well but the point of interest I used for this case was this. The DNR warden wrote the ticket stating. POSSESSION of a wild animal without a fur bearing license. Your magistrate, were is the possession?
So, I won the court case because they had NO possession and I had no possession because I lost Her off the back of my car the DAY before. All they had was some POOP from a litter box! In the court of law that does not constitute possession. Possession is constituted as an act of possession of the item, being the content of the item, living item and or in possession of sort and or of item that is considered unlawful. Coon POOP is not illegal to have. At least back then I don’t know about now! What they missed in that law was that possession should be constituted also to poop in a litter box that is inside a dwelling UNIT! HA! So, I won the case. There was NO possession. As a final note to this case. I would like to make note that in my case I used a case that hit HEADLINES in the Chicago tribune and the Milwaukee news in Wiscinsin. It was titled; Rocky The Raccoon. A Chicago family came up to Wisconsin with their pet Raccoon. In Illinois you do not have to have a fur bearing license for having a Raccoon. But when they came to Wisconsin with their Raccoon named Rocky. The DNR of Wisconsin took Rocky away from them and it went to COURT. Front page new.
ROCKY THE RACCOON! Gets taken away from owners in Chicago! Attorney General Bronsin La Falet openly and publicly defended the case. In the end the Chicago family were awarded in that case that the DNR of Wisconsin were to return Rocky to their owners. I don’t remember if they got compensation or not from the DNR of Wisconsin but I do know they got Rocky BACK!!! I used that case in my case about Babe! AND I WON THE CASE.
This is the true story of;
My little bandit, Babe!
Miss her till this very day!
Bandit I Tell You!
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