outdoor coons mooching

Every night when I look outside, I see 40 or so of my extended family eating at food pans set out by my parents. (Don't tell my parents, but it always reminds me how grateful I am to live with a roof over my head, gourmet food and indoor plumbing.)

Actually, it was because I followed the coon trail to the food pans that I found my way here. For 15 years my parents have been feeding outdoor coons and watching their antics. They used to put out a wide variety of foods, but after discussing it with my doctor, they restrict the offerings to dog food, fruit and an occasional loaf of bread.

They have a working relationship with a local distributor who delivers 500 pounds of dog food at a time at wholesale rates. This will last 2 to 4 weeks depending on the time of year.

Beginning in March, the females who've just given birth begin to come to the food pans. By April, all of last year's coons who have survived the winter come to eat voraciously. In June, the mothers will bring their babies. In July, berries are available in nature and the food pans are used less frequently. By September, 25 or more pounds of dog food are put out each night and consumed in 2 hours or so.

By late November, feeding comes to a halt. Even though food is available December - March, very few coons come during this season. This is mating season and we're all preoccupied. Besides, who wants to leave his nest when the weather is icy or snow covers the ground? Would you want to walk barefoot through a snowdrift?

Sometimes people ask if the food pans attract unwanted pests. The answer depends on what you consider a pest. On our property we have coon, skunk, opossum, rabbit, squirrel, groundhog, brown bat, feral cat, a fox and occasional deer plus 75 species of birds on any spring day.

The dog food my parents buy is a complete nutritional product, but it's high in fish meal which most dogs don't like (sic transit the neighborhood dogs and our local fox). Occasionally, oppossum will eat it in winter, but they usually prefer nature's offerings the rest of the year. Skunk show up once in a while, but aren't crazy about this brand of food either. We have feral cats, too, which eliminate any rodents. They get fed cat food. Our bunnies and groundhogs ignore it and squirrels think it's disgusting. The birds are another matter, however.

If any food is left out during the day, it will be eaten by a mixed flock of carniverous birds (starling, sparrow, grackle, etc.). If you find these birds obnoxious, don't leave food out during the day.

The other question that comes up is, "What about rabies?". This issue has been discussed with my doctors and they feel there is no problem. The rabies virus dies quickly when exposed to air. An animal has to actually be bitten or breathed upon by a rabid animal to catch it. Rabid animals are rarely interested in food. If rabies is a problem in your area, your veterinarian may work with you to innoculate your wild coon population.

My parents enjoy watching the behavior of all the species on the property, but coons are the favorite family night time activity. We all sit lined up, staring out the window: the 3 cats, my aged parents and I.

Back To FAQ Page

Back To Home Page