Most major cities have “gang” problems. Toronto’s most notorious gang are the masked “Racoons”. Toronto now has the dubious title of “Racoon Capital of the World”.
We’re not sure of the exact population of the furry little critters; but, we have heard estimates of upwards of 800,000 (up to 150 per square kilometer in some areas). Suffice to say they have adapted well to urban living and they’re here to stay.
Our hostel in Toronto has resident racoons – always and lots of them. They are territorial little blighters and can often be heard late at night fighting with other racoons trying to usurp their “turf”. (You know -typical urban street gang stuff.)
So it is very common for our guests to spot racoons on their early evening forays to check out what our trash bins have on the menu. Their discovery of them is invariably accompanied by oohs…and…aahs!
Some of our guests try to hand-feed the little bandits. It’s often a struggle to get them to desist. DON’T DO IT! We aren’t trying to spoil their fun; it’s just that it is potentially dangerous.
The cute, bold little racoons that will approach a hand proffering food are usually the youngsters. They have been acclimated to humans – the innocence of youth. But Mamma Racoon, might be different – violently different!
As with most species, mothers are very protective of their young and may often react very aggressively to perceived threats. They are often carriers of rabies so bites and scratches from a racoon can result in a round of very unpleasant (but very essential) medical treatment.
If you are on the hostel’s patio in the evening, there is a pretty good chance that you will have a Racoon Encounter.
Here’s the protocol:
1) DO NOT get too close or corner a racoon.
2) DO NOT feed the little beggar.
3) TAKE photos (but keep your distance).
4) NEVER try to pet or pick one up!