[Page 173] The home of the raccoon is generally in a hollow tree; the young are brought forth in May, and are from four to six in number.
In captivity this animal makes a very cunning and interesting pet, being easily tamed to follow its master, and when dainties are in view becomes a most adroit pickpocket. Its food is extensive in variety, thus making it quite an easy matter to keep the creature in confinement. Nuts and fruits of all kinds it eagerly devours, as well as bread, cake and potatoes. It manifests no hesitation at a meal of rabbit, rat, squirrel, or bird, and rather likes it for a change, and when he can partake of a dessert of honey or molasses his enjoyment knows no bounds. Frogs, fresh water clams, green corn, and a host of other delicacies come within the range of his diet, and he may sometimes be seen digging from the sand the eggs of the soft-shelled turtle, which he greedily sucks. We cordially recommend the coon as a pet. He becomes very docile, and is full of cunning ways, and if the young ones can be traced to their hiding-place in some hollow tree, and secured, if not too young, we could warrant our readers a great deal of real sport and pleasure in rearing the little animals and watching their ways.
In cold climates the raccoon lies dormant in the winter, only venturing out on occasional mild days; but in the Southern States he is active throughout the year, prowling about by day and by night in search of his food, inserting his little sharp nose into every corner, and feeling with his slender paws between stones for spiders and bugs of all kinds. He spies the innocent frog with his head just out of the water, and pouncing upon him, he despatches him without a moment’s warning. There seems to be no limits to his rapacity, for he is always eating and always hungry. The print of the raccoon’s paw in the mud or snow is easily recognized, much resembling the impression made by the foot of a babe.
The best season for trapping the coon is late in the fall, winter, and early spring, or from and between the months of October and April. During this time the pelts are in excellent condition. Early in the spring when the snow is disappearing, the coons come out of their hiding places to start on their foraging tours; and at this time are particularly susceptible to a tempting bait, and they may be successfully trapped in the following manner:—
Take a steel trap and set it on the edge of some pool, or stream where the coons are known to frequent: let it be an inch [Page 174] or so under the water, and carefully chained to a clog. The bait may consist of a fish, frog, or head of a fowl, scented with Oil of Anise, and suspended over the traps about two feet higher, by the aid of a sapling secured in the ground. (See title page at the head of this section.) The object of this is to induce the animal to jump for it, when he will land with his foot in the trap. Another method is to construct a V shaped pen set the