Sunday, June 11, 2006

Cave Procyon Lotor

The subtitle of my blog is "Sometimes looking out, sometimes looking in." I have mostly been sharing my photos of birds and other "critters" I find interesting. However, today I thought I'd share a little about me (along with the critters in my world). The title is somewhat Latin -- cave means "beware!" (present active imperative of cavere - to beware. Imperative is why there's an exclamation mark after it! ;-). I'm sure many of you have heard the terms caveat emptor (buyer beware), caveat lector (let the reader beware) and cave canem (beware the dog!)

If you haven't guessed by now, I am trying to learn Latin. People ask me why, and I really don't have a good answer, except that I find it interesting. There are several "links" between my interest in Latin and other interests -- a recent one is that my thesis project for my Master's Degree was on "Self-Directed Learning" (SDL). To make a long story short, I felt that if I was going to research SDL, I should give it a try. I am not the perfect candidate for an SDL project, so I wanted something that really interested me and learning Latin was what I came up with. I decided to join an online study group (several, actually as I have started over twice!) and I am currently almost half-way through Wheelock's Latin.

Back to my pseudo-Latin title.

Procyon Lotor is the Latin name for the common or northern raccoon. I claim that the title is pseudo-Latin because I'm pretty sure there were no raccoons in ancient Rome! And because the genus name "procyon" is Greek meaning pre-dog. (Pro in Latin also means "in front of, before"). Lotor is related to "washing". The word for raccoon in many languages means "washing bear". Procyon is also the name of a star, but we won't go there... today.

So... "Beware the Raccoon"

There is a family of raccoons who live near the cabin. After we lost our cats, we tried to adopt a stray kitty and the raccoons quickly discovered the cat food that we left outside. After a while, we gave in and decided to leave our left-overs for the racoons (perhaps not a good idea). One raccoon, whom we have dubbed "Momma" has been showing up very regularly -- even during the day. She has not been agressive, so we suspect that it is more a case of getting to the food before other critters, as she is surely feeding babies. (Which means our population is growing -- eeek!)

Raccoons are very curious: one of the juvenile racoons climbed on a rocking chair and was trying to reach the hummingbird feeders. We saw it throught the window and ran it off.

To the right is "Momma" Raccoon eating the cat food. That's Marc in the rocker.

Raccoons are also very messy. In the article 20 Reasons not to have a pet raccoon, John Hughes says, "Give a raccoon a bowl of water and a dish of dry dog or cat food and he will create for you a mess of epic proportions." I can certainly attest to that!

We have made the mistake of feeding the wild raccoons, and we may need to do something about it soon. We have neighbors who eat raccoons, though that doesn't sound appealing to me. On the other hand, it is said that they are good with sweet potatoes.


Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I used to have a pet racoon when I was much younger. Made the mistake and let it alone in my one bedroom apartment! What a mess! There was not a thing that damn thing did not get into. Promply put her (name was Windy) in a cage before I released her into the wild. I had had her since she was little, but she grew (as all animals do!)


Stormy said...

You know, I've gotten to where I think they're cute at about 3-6 feet away. We caught one when we first moved out to the cabin with the thought of transporting it away -- it was a mean little devil. We just let it go right there -- and kept our distance!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you are right! Wild animals should remain wild animals.