Monday, September 12, 2016

Always Something Exciting

Over the last several days, since we built our new, improved, bigger rabbit hutch and moved the rabbits into it.... we noticed 'signs' of critters coming to visit.  We assumed it was a raccoon b/c it was stealing hay and sunflower seeds from inside the hutch and leaving little 'packages' behind as it left.  (The hutch door had not been attached yet.)

Nothing else was really being bothered.

Due to this intruder, I worked to get the door on the hutch to prevent said critter from continuing to wreak havoc inside the hutch with the rabbits' food.  I had put the hay and sunflower seeds inside an unused cage, but our visitor was pulling the bags apart and spilling the seeds all over the floor of the cage.  My hope was the critter would realize it couldn't get anymore seeds and move on.

Naivety on my part.

The next morning, the younger chickens' fence that encloses their run was knocked down and partially disassembled while their food was tipped over, emptied, and eaten.  (Yes, we should have brought it into the house, but sometimes that step gets forgotten as the kids tuck in the animals at night.)


Seemed a bit extreme for a raccoon, but... I know they can be quite destructive.

In addition, as we opened the rabbit hutch to feed the rabbits, 2 of the cages were on the floor that had previously been perched atop a larger cage.  Initially I wondered if they just 'hopped around a lot' and bounced themselves off the larger cage.  Seemed possible, but not super likely.

While putting the fence back up, the kids noticed a large pile of scat.
Any scat experts want to take a guess at what
animal may have left this lovely present?
I have my guesses.

It could have been raccoon. But, if it were raccoon, it was from the BIGGEST raccoon in history.  That scat was a good silver dollar size in diameter.  If not bigger.  It also had remnants of what looked like grain in it.


A friend let me borrow a couple wildlife cameras to place out near our coop/hutch to see what was actually messing with our chickens and rabbits.

The next morning I went out to investigate.  I couldn't wait to retrieve the cameras and download any pics it might have taken.  My curiosity was getting the best of me.

As I stepped out into the yard, it was obvious the chicken fence was once again pulled apart and tossed to the ground.  Would a raccoon really pull the fence down like that or just go over it????  I wasn't ready to make a conclusive decision.

Fixing the fence was top priority.

Accomplishing that, I then grabbed the cameras and headed inside.  I pulled out the sim cards and put them in my computer.

The first camera obviously took a few photos, but they were all washed out and just white light.

The second camera had quite a few similar photos, but one photo caught our little culprit red handed.

Here he is.

A young black bear getting ready to pull down and toss aside the fencing that surrounds
 our younger hens coop and run area.  
A young black bear!

Looks like he paused mid-tearing down of the fence to have his picture taken doesn't it?

My assumption now in regards to the rabbit cages being plopped on the floor was the young bear pushing upon the hutch in an attempt to topple it, thinking THAT would allow him back at those yummy sunflower seeds.  Obviously purely conjecture, but... seems more likely than the bunnies making their own cages fall seeing as they've been placed on top of other cages since we've owned them.

He's apparently been visiting and snacking on our chicken feed nightly. I think the raccoons leaked the information that seeds and hay and other yummy goods were easy pickings at the Williams' homestead.

Hence every critter in the neighborhood is showing up.

Did I mention that last night - before bed - skunks infiltrated the back yard and sprayed poor Titus?

Yep, I'm convinced the word is out that OUR house is the place to be.

Compost; chicken feed; sunflower seeds; not to mention chickens and rabbits are free for the taking.  

(Even when we take in the actual feeders, there's always spilled food on the ground - from both the chickens themselves and the kids as they transport food, not to mention scraps that the chickens don't fully ingest before retiring for the night.)

Gotta love mountain life.

Oh wait.

I DO love mountain life.

Now to figure out how to rid our little corner of the mountain of these little pesky pests -- at least for a short while.

I know it won't take long and they'll all return - looking for a handout and a warm place to sleep.  Seems under our house, shed, and porches are prime critter realty locations around these parts.

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