It's one thing when raccoons sneakily raid your garbage cans or vegetable garden. But when they start knocking on your door for handouts — and adorably holding rocks with both paws to do so — the relationship may have gotten out of hand.
That's what happens in the new video above, captured by homeowner Susie Chinn of Sarasota, Florida. The raccoon, whom Chinn has named "Rocksy," holds a stone in her paws and rolls it along Chinn's sliding glass door to make a tapping sound. This is of course delightful, and Chinn is understandably enamored with Rocksy's antics.
"She is adorable and has lived in my yard for years," Chinn writes on YouTube, where the video has been watched more than 1 million times in less than two weeks. "[N]ot sure how she figured out how to knock ... but it certainly works!"
Although it's unclear how Rocksy learned her namesake noisemaking trick, the source of her boldness is less mysterious. As Chinn explains, Rocksy has a habit of raiding her cats' outdoor food bowl. Chinn continues to refill the bowl, leading Rocksy to see it as a reliable source of food — albeit not always reliable enough.
"This silly raccoon has figured out that after she has raided the cat food bowl ... she will just knock on the door ... FOR HOURS ... until I refill it!" she says. "It is hysterical!"
"I love her so much," Chinn says of Rocksy. "I just want people to know that raccoons are wonderful." (Image: YouTube)
As Chinn narrates, Rocksy diligently rolls her rock on the glass like someone trying to cajole snacks from a balky vending machine. It is hysterical, and this tool use offers yet another reason to admire raccoons' ingenuity. Yet while Chinn clearly has good intentions — she's a longtime volunteer with wildlife rescue groups, she notes, and her enthusiasm for raccoons is infectious — this video warrants a quick caveat.
It's generally a bad idea to feed wildlife, either directly or indirectly. Handouts can train animals to skip their natural foraging and linger near people instead, which poses problems for everyone involved. Unafraid animals may get too close to humans (including some less friendly than their original benefactors), risking injury, illness or even euthanization. Humans and pets can also be at risk from injury by overly bold wildlife, and from zoonotic diseases like rabies or leptospirosis.
Leaving pet bowls or other food outside may not erode an animal's instinctive fear of humans as much as direct handouts do, but it still teaches them to frequent our yards. It's also indiscriminate, so a bowl of food meant for raccoons could lure additional creatures like rats, coyotes or bears, depending where you live.
Resisting the temptation to feed wild animals can be difficult, especially if they're as charismatic as Rocksy — who is currently nursing four babies, according to Chinn. If you can summon the will power, though, your efforts would likely be better spent preserving pockets of habitat where they can rest and forage naturally. Here are some tips for turning your yard into a haven for native wildlife.
Even though leaving pet food outside is typically frowned upon, Chinn's fondness for wild raccoons is still a welcome break from the contempt many people harbor. Regardless of how you feel about her tolerance of Rocksy's thievery, Chinn offers a pithy takeaway from this video that's hard to argue with: "RACCOONS ROCK!!!!"