We have an atrium in our house — windows on 3 sides and 2 skylights on top. There’s a tile floor, and since we painted the walls white (they were originally brown) it’s a great place for plants. It’s under the peak of the roof and the lowest point of the ceiling is at about 12 feet and slopes up to 15 feet. The skylights open and close and have screens. Last night, about 4 AM, MRA woke me to tell me that two racoons had tried to walk on the screens and fallen into the atrium.
They were climbing the walls and the plants trying to find a way out and pretty much wrecking the place.
I knotted three sheets together (including the top sheet we were using at the time) and MRA went up on the roof, in the rain, in the dark, and tied one end to the skylight and lowered it down. They could have climbed it but chose to keep trying other things. One was clearly the leader and the other one just followed it wherever it went.
Two of their confederates were waiting for them on the back deck, probably wondering what on earth had happened. The two in the atrium kept up a steady chittering. They didn’t seem afraid of me at all. It was interesting to watch them, because they kept trying different things. After they had tried to climb in one corner and fallen, they would go somewhere else to try. Finally they made it to the peak of the ceiling and the leader went all the way across the beam, upside down, and the follower followed him. There was no future in that, and it looked like the follower finally thought, “Hey, this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing” so it went back across the beam and worked its way over to the skylight and somehow climbed out and joined the two outside and they left. Kind of rude.
The other one kept falling. It was painful to see an animal fall that far but he never seemed to be hurt, probably because racoons are made of pure evil.
After two more falls, he got discouraged and lay down. I wondered if it would be possible to throw a blanket over him and swoop him outside, but I didn’t dare try it. He rested awhile, then had two more climbs and falls. Then he began climbing in the corner where the floodlights are mounted. I thought he was probably going to knock the lights down but he got past them without incident, and this time he worked his way to a skylight and got out and I heard him running off across the roof.
Now we have a mess. Both screens were knocked loose — one fell to the floor and the other is hanging from the skylight. You can see my 12-foot tall fishtail palm lying on the floor. It wasn’t damaged but the plant it fell on isn’t looking so hot. Most of the plants came through well although many of them lost a lot of leaves. They got into most of the hanging plants and knocked one down, and most of the brackets are bent. MRA closed the skylights before it got light so that the atrium didn’t fill up with birds. I think in the future the windows will just be cracked enough to keep the humidity down. I enjoy seeing wild animals, but enough is enough! Snakes, skunks, racoons — it’s like Wild Kingdom around here, only I don’t have a Jim. (Remember how Jim always got the dirty jobs? Marlin Perkins was always saying things like, “We’ll wait here while Jim subdues the boa constrictor.”