- Last Updated on 07:44 AM 03/28/14
- BY Danielle Vaughn and Paula I. Bryant
A pair of black-masked bandits with omnivorous eating habits and dexterous paws recently tried to call Aquatic Bath located in the industrial park off Philpott Road in South Boston their new home.
When a truck full of bathware products arrived at the plant earlier this month, plant spokesperson Ronnie Hackney and co-workers were surprised to discover bathware wasn’t all that was in the delivery truck.
As the boxes were being unloaded, a gray and brown-furred raccoon scurried from one of the boxes, and quick-thinking employees chased the frisky rascal out of the plant.
Little did they know, another furry friend, much more shy than the first, lurked inside the delivery truck hidden out of sight.
No one saw the little fella with a black mask around its eyes and white fur around the mask with a stripe running from its forehead to its nose. And that’s the way he wanted to keep it.
However, a couple of days later he could hide no longer and his presence became very evident when the hunger and thirst-ravaged raccoon became bolder and very active at night inside the plant.
Raccoons, common throughout much of the United States and important furbearers, prefer living near streams, rivers, lakes and marshes, and they require trees, brush and other cover in the wild.
They usually make their homes in hollow trees, logs, rocky crevices or abandoned animal burrows.
But since he now found himself out of his element, the furry creature had to make do with what was at hand inside the Aquatics Bath plant.
And that he did, all under the cover of darkness.
After a night of scavenging for food inside the plant, the now satisfied raccoon returned to his newfound hiding place, safe and sound and out of sight from the employees who came into work the next morning scratching their heads at what had gone on their workplace the night before.
They found numerous overturned trashcans, and litter scattered throughout the building.
“We just put two and two together that it was another raccoon,” Hackney said.
It had to be, because what else would have created such a mess, employees surmised.
Raccoons are opportunistic feeders, taking whatever is available. Fruits, berries, acorns, insects, fish, mollusks, grasshoppers, mice, birds, snakes, eggs and crayfish make up the bulk of their diet.
But when trapped inside a building filled with bathware, a resourceful raccoon makes do with whatever is available.
The raccoons caused no damage to any of the bathware products boxed up in the truck or in the plant. They just made a mess with the trash, Hackney said.
“No damage. He was just turning trash cans over trying to get something to eat or to find something to drink.”
With no corn, sorghum and other cultivated farm crops to feed on, leftover scraps and anything edible in those trashcans would have to suffice for the remaining raccoon.
After all, it had been days and possibly more than a week since the little critter had sought refuge in a box inside that big truck where he used to live in Florida.
According to Hackney, it appeared as though the two raccoons had nestled into the boxes before they were loaded onto the truck making the long trip to South Boston.
The pair had been trapped in the truck for about four to five days before arriving in South Boston, and Hackney said he has no idea how they survived.
Raccoons are intelligent and can adapt readily to living in close association with people, but this time the raccoon had ventured a little too close for comfort.
After surmising there was a second raccoon somewhere inside the plant, employees set up a “live trap” using sardines as bait and caught the rascal.
With the second black-masked bandit safely captured and under lock and key, Hackney said he drove it out into the country releasing the critter into the wild.
Hackney and his co-workers are still wondering how the rascally raccoons from Florida managed to survive all that time without food or water.
Things like this don’t happen often at Aquatics Bath, but they do liven up the place when they pay a visit to the plant every now and then.
These were not the first raccoonish visitors to the plant.
Hackney recalled another time several years ago when a raccoon got into the plant, and employees had to chase it away.
And there’s nothing much they can do to keep it from happening again, Hackney concluded.