I had been away for only a week, but when
I got back I discovered that a big fat raccoon had taken up residence in
my walls. Yes, this is Toronto, which seems to have a raccoon population
of about eight million, beating the humans about three to one, and giving
Toronto the distinction of being Raccoon Capital of the World.
I first saw the beast jump in a hole in my garage wall and disappear, a
sure sign all was not well. I love animals, and I tried to live in harmony
with my new tenant, but this guy was living inside the wall right behind
I could live with that, but not the racket in the middle of the night. Had
we been on the same schedule, it wouldn't have been so bad, but I'm just
not as nocturnal as I used to be.
He seemed friendly enough, hanging nonchalantly around the door at dinnertime,
sharing food with the cat. However, friends pointed out that raccoons do
a lot of damage and suggested I call a removal service immediately.
But when I heard it costs about $200 or so to get rid of raccoons, I resisted.
No way I was going to spend that kind of money.
"Just buy a trap," said a friend, "just $44 at Canadian Tire,
no big deal. Once you trap it, you take it to a ravine and let it go."
It sounded easy, and I liked the sound of just $44. So I bought one.
My trapper pal had told me to use sardines for bait, but I was now in money-saving
mode. Why buy sardines when I have leftover chicken in the fridge?
So I gingerly put some chicken inside the crate, then settled down for the
night. Suddenly, I jerked awake. There was a racket out on the deck and
that wasn't my raccoon I was smelling.
I fretted until first light, then tiptoed outside to inspect the trap. Sure
enough, I had trapped a skunk, and he wasn't happy. I knew what I had to
Frantically, I picked up the phone. "$125 to remove the skunk,"
the animal-removal service said.
"$125?" I balked, but then imagined myself carrying a skunk to
Defeated, I told the wildlife removers to come over.
Once they had the skunk in custody, I offered them the trap (albeit reeking
of skunk goop) at a good price. I was still trying to save money.
"Twenty dollars," I told them (standing at a good distance, because,
of course, they'd been skunked).
They shook their heads. They'd done this before, and they knew I'd give
them the trap for free -- indeed, I pleaded with them to take it off my
It seems raccoons love sardines. Skunks don't.
By the next morning, the pros had trapped the resident raccoon with a proper
trap (the sides covered in wood) and his garage entry into the walls of
my house was repaired.
All for just $225 plus tax. Plus, of course, the $125 for the removal of
the skunk. And $44 for the cage. Almost $400.
If only I'd bought the sardines.