The deer turned their noses up at the apples in the manger. They chose instead to eat the woody debris from the Black-eyed Susans. Gary did some research and reported that deers’ bellies are seasonal, and they can die if they eat something in winter that they would usually eat in summer. Were I a deer, I would die from this.
Gary is now using the manger to hold peanuts in the shell. He still throws shelled peanuts on the ground, but he thought some of the raccoons might like a challenge.
After a few days, some smaller raccoons investigated the manger but ignored the nuts. This went on for weeks, until this guy showed up. The raccoon in the video below performed that same move over and over and over and - I would say thirty times in one night, he walked up to the manger, got one peanut in the shell, and left with it. The next night, same thing.
We thought at first he was the Meals On Wheels service for invalid or overweight raccoons. But Gary chatted with the man at the feed store, and it appears that peanuts in the shell are popular with Wildlife Dads who need to go on food runs for the New Moms who are stuck in the den.
Why are nuts in the shell popular? You get two nuts for one run. Also, the discarded shell is a good nesting material.
The math adds up - babies stay in the den with Mom for six weeks, and historically the babies arrive early June.
Gary thinks all the wildlife whimpering earlier that week (when the raccoon jumped the fence to see the uproar) was a Mom giving birth outside the den. I suppose early births can happen in Raccoon World as easily as anywhere else. I’ve never thought of it, but since there are no Raccoon Epidurals, birth would probably cause some whimpering.