Where to begin? With the fact that we ignored the scratchings and screechings in the walls because we "thought they were just the squirrels"? As if that were somehow normal?
After a week or so, even the Edies would have agreed: Those were no squirrels. The chirrupings we kept hearing between the second and third floors seemed heftier than our usual interlopers.
And then we started seeing "Spidey."
I dubbed him that after seeing him scale the front porch like the web-slinger himself at dusk. Soon, he was making appearances all over the roof. Spidey didn't seem rabid-fearless, just very active. A bit of research into the wall-chorus revealed why: Spidey was a she, and she was out doing errands while her new babies awaited her return. Inside our walls.
Yes, those were Spidey's young'uns, and they had to go. Turns out it's not so easy to find a wildlife remover in Brooklyn. We found Dave on Long Island, who arrived in a truck plastered with photos of his bedbug-sniffing dog.
We were brusquely assured that we did indeed have raccoons. There is only one plan for Baby Raccoons in the Walls: Trap mom outside, and wait for the young to start hollering. Because the only thing worse than live raccoons inside your walls is dead ones.
Dave set two kinds of baited traps for Spidey: nonlethal ones at the base of our mammoth tree, which would grab the animal's wrist like a handcuff; and a lethal one on the porch roof, because the others often fail to do the job. Although we were told the wrist traps were "species-specific," it took only hours for a poor little feral cat to become frantically ensnared; with difficulty (and oven mitts), we freed her and she shot off, unharmed.
The next morning, Spouse said, "Don't look on the porch roof." Spidey had chosen badly. I had to look; it seemed cowardly and dishonest not to. The scene was unbloody but gruesome; Spidey had clearly died instantly, as if by ninja attack to the neck. What haunted me was the classic indicator that young will be found nearby: Spidey had nursing nipples. The body was removed, and we waited.
Within 24 hours, the orphans started to holler. Fortunately, they didn't travel much; you can punch holes all over your house trying to extricate older, more mobile young. We masked every damn thing in the kitchen (raccoon-nest insulation not being high on hygiene), and Dave returned with a Sawz-All.
On the second try, he scooped out four little masked cubs and laid them on the kitchen floor, screeching and stumbling around shakily, like tiny Godzillas.
"There's one more." Another cut to the Sheetrock, and the last baby dropped out. He was the spunkiest, grooving around solo while his siblings huddled together.
Dave says he releases them out on the Island somewhere with a live-captured mom, and that nursing raccoons readily foster orphaned litters. This may be up there with "Sparky went to live with a nice farmer and his family in the country, Johnny" in the annals of credibility, but I chose to believe it. We had none, none of the resources--time, money, expertise--to rescue and rehome Spidey and the kids to some Raccoon Resort. There's Born Free, and then there's Brooklyn.
I wish the little guys luck, I really do. Authorizing their mother's execution was a stark exercise in choosing between sentiment and self-preservation. Our family's health, our home, our pets were all threatened by this wayward family, who could eventually have made their way out of the walls and into our living space. It's hard to feel like Ripley in Aliens when you're chasing little guys in fur pajamas, though.
Take a look at their brief sojourn on our kitchen floor, which is just about the most surreal interlude in the history of the Crazy Stable: