Monday, June 8, 2020


Whenever it was that our city joined the polychromatic bin revolution, we were given a choice of 4 different green (kitchen waste and garden trimmings) bins. We chose the medium-small one, mostly because it was the only model with a latch. Why did we want a latch? Because of Procyon lotor (raccoon, trash panda).

The etymology of "raccoon" is relevant to everything they do.  According to Wikipedia:"It has also been identified as a reflex of a Proto-Algonquian root ahrah-koon-em, meaning "[the] one who rubs, scrubs and scratches with its hands".[8] "

Yes, they use their hands a lot. They're always poking and probing. They have super-soft hands too, which feel like mochi rice cakes. (The first time I had a mochi rice cake, I announced that it was as a soft as a raccoon's paw, and everyone stared at me, but life is complicated and some people are zoologists. which isn't a weird thing.)

 When raccoons walk, it's as if the ground hurts their hands.

The bin latch: It's a very sturdy latch that takes two hands and a fair amount of hand-strength to open. You have to press down on the curved upper surface with one hand and tug hard at the free end to pop it open.

Had I known how completely unimpressed raccoons would be with it, I would have filmed the one wandering across our yard.

What he did: 

1) Walked to bin and stood up, gripping the top front,
2) pulled it forward, and dodged as it fell,
3) rolled the bin onto its side to expose the latch,
4) with both hands grabbed the latch, 
5) tugged.

The latch popped open and the lid swung wide. The entire process took about 3 seconds.


Cheers to you! I am enjoying touching with my paws, and eating with my jaws, the stiff yet spongy innards of  this week-old artisanal French loaf you kindly set aside for me!

Carnivores, sort of. After the clean-up, raccoon is back, feeling for stray bread crumbs. Cat is just mad.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

Hey Hugh - I've been looking at old favorite blogs in these weird times as a reminder to myself that nature keeps going. We had problems with our bins at the beginning of the pandemic in our part of California. With the March rains and over a month, I set our bins out to get a natural shower. Then I heard them rattling in the middle of the night. Cute footprints were all over the freshly washed bins with trash strewn everywhere. I finally got a look, and it was a small raccoon that was so agile to get in and out of the bins. I tried to educate our neighbors about how to separate our waste. And now we keep two bricks on top of the current black garbage bin. Our blue recycling shouldn't need protection from the raccoons anymore. And our management company won't let us get a green bin for compost, so I sometimes add stuff to our neighbors' when they set theirs out. I do three kinds of composting at home, and I sometimes wonder if it's worth all the effort in addition to the trash and the recycling. Hmm, I don't think I could deal with that bin latch. Practicality is not often thought of in new products. Did I ever mention to you that I wanted to invent a new garden weasel? Cheers, Hugh! : ) Katie

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

The picture with the coon sitting next to what looked like a birthday cake (before I read the story and found out it was bread) was so funny. That raccoon looked to me like it was applauding. Maybe you just couldn't hear it because of it's soft little paws.

Who opens the garbage bin faster--the raccoon or you? Just curious.

Dave Wenning said...

Just think of it as your raccoon feeder. Bird feeder, squirrel feeder, raccoon feeder. Part of a set.