Friday, September 21, 2007

Masked bandit kidnaps, kills and eats victim...

... and if that's not bad enough, he comes back for more!

The photo to the left is not the actual one I saw last night, but it does give a nice view of the teeth of the species. Nasty.

But I'm jumping ahead. Let me start from the beginning.

Lately here on the farm, we've had a problem getting our Guinea fowls to go into the coup with the chicken's at night. Like rebellious teenagers, they want to stay out all night long. There are (were) four of them, and they have taken to hanging out on top of the wire chicken run outside, instead of going in the coup.

The night before last, just like in one of those teen horror movies on the Sci-Fi channel, one of them got eaten by something. There was a scream at 5:30 am. I found the feathers when it was daylight.

So yesterday evening, the 3 remaining Guineas perched on top outside again. I was pretty sure the predator would be back for seconds, so I shooed them off with a stick. In the past when I've done that, they run into the woods and perch in the trees. They seemed to do the same; but when I went to close the coup up later, I was relieved to see that the Guineas went inside.

Well later on, about 3:30am the dogs went crazy barking, looking in the direction of the chicken coup. I went out with a flashlight and saw a HUGE raccoon around the coup. I suspect he ate the Guinea the night before. I threw something in his direction and he scampered off.

I'm hoping the remaining Guineas will figure it out and go back inside each night like they used to. I'm generally careful not to leave food, garbage or animal feed outside, as I don't want to attract raccoons and other varmints. But our chickens, ducks and Guineas are free range; some of them lay eggs in the brush on the edges of the yard, and in the woods. I don't always find them all, and I think that attracts raccoons too. I don't know what I can do about that, other than find the eggs. I find most of them; the dogs help.

Hopefully the Masked Bandit won't be back. I prefer wildlife in the wild, not in my domestic farmyard. Fortunately the coup we built is pretty strong, but there are other good reasons for not wanting raccoons making regular visits:

Baylisascaris procyonis (Raccoon Roundworm)

Talk about creepy. It's transferable to humans, and there is no cure? I'm pretty sure there are raccoon feces in the yard, and the dogs have a tendency to munch on all sorts of unidentifiable things. I walk them through paths in our woods, too, and I'm sure they find all sorts of unsavory munchables. Now I'm wondering if there is more I can or need to do to protect them from raccoon roundworm.

Even when we lived in the Big City, we had raccoons. Baylisascaris procyonis is something most folks need to be aware of.

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