Months passed, and Ruby watched her son grow into a handsome raccoon. His coat was gray, his face was white, and his ears were small and rounded. A mask of black fur grew around his eyes. He was growing in size. His body was about sixteen inches long and his bushy tail added another eight inches in length. Ricky weighed about fifteen pounds. His mother made sure he had plenty to eat and Ruby spoiled him. Her grief for his litter mates, who had died before he was born, made her love him more fiercely and sometimes too much.
Ricky grew up feeling entitled to everything around him and he had problems respecting the rights of other raccoons. His mother knew this, but her love for him made her blind to his weaknesses. He loved to stand on his hind legs and watch the world around him. He was proud of his front paws which had non-retractable claws. They were very sensitive and touch was important to him. Ricky’s front paws looked like hands with fingers but no thumb. The fingers could unscrew lids and douse food in the water and clean it. He was intelligent and could figure out how to solve problems quickly using his agile front paws.
Ricky loved to go down to the feeding grounds. He would eat, sleep, and play with the other raccoons. They would explore the woods and go down to the creek to catch fish and wash them. It was so exciting to find frogs, hunt for bird’s eggs, and eat worms and insects. He and his friends would bring back some of the food to the community and try to impress the female raccoons.
Raccoons in the wild are lucky if they live more than a few years. They usually die from harsh winters of starvation or freeze to death. They also die from being hunted and shot by humans. ( Continued in Part three).