Camping with raccoons in Florida or anywhere can be interesting to say the least. Many parks have problems with critters big and small, but the most interesting confrontations I have had with wildlife have been with raccoons in the Everglades National Park.
The first story comes from a camping trip out to Cape Sable on the Florida Bay. Cape Sable is actually the farthest southern point on mainland Florida. Only the Florida Keys lie farther south.
Dog vs. coon part I
We were camping in tents on the beach. My parents were in one tent and I was in the other with the family dog, Barney. I opened the tent in the middle of the night due to the call of nature. The call of nature was not the only nature lying about.
My dog, Barney, jumped past me as soon as I opened the zipper on the tent. I had tried to block him from getting out, but he was too determined for me to hold him back. An enormous raccoon was 15 feet from my tent and Barney quickly engaged the raccoon and they rolled several times accompanied by hideous barks and screams.
Dog and coon then disengaged, and each looked at each other with a confused look of surprise, fear, and respect. I think each combatant got a little more than they bargained for when they had decided to start another chapter in the continuing epic struggle between these two long time enemies. Â I was able to take advantage of the pause and grab my dog and pull him away from the scene of the battle. The raccoon then took off for the woods.
Dog vs. coon part II
During this same trip, back at Flamingo Campground, Barney the dog entered into the fray again with the masked marauders. In the middle of the night, a family of raccoons entered our campground. Once again, Barney was sharing the tent with me.
Barney scratched his claws furiously on the mosquito netting of the tent, and in short order sliced through the fabric and was free. This time there was no battle. Barney carried the day and saved our campsite from raccoon mayhem. There was a tree in the middle of the campground and our dog treed the four up to no good visitors.
My dad woke up and soon had the flashlight out to investigate the ruckus. He arrived to find Barney barking up the tree. He also heard growling from above. He shined the light into the tree to see four sets of glowing eyes and cherry raspberry lipstick mouths. The four raccoons had got into our cherry kool-aid.
Outcome: Barney wins
Camping with raccoon tips
When camping in raccoon country make sure all food like granola bars and kool aid are properly put away. Preferably, this means putting it in the car. If camping in the backcountry, hang food in secure packs. Raccoons are adept at unzipping packs, so be sure to get packs that have some sort of double layer of security. Recently on a trip to Costa Rica, I found this out the hard way as a band of locals opened my bag in Manuel Antonio National Park.
When camping with dogs in raccoon country, make sure to secure dogs on a leash at night. Barney was lucky when he tussled with the giant coon at Cape Sable. Often times, dogs are the losers when it comes to a battle with a big raccoon.
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