Sad story to report….Some of you will think me silly, but I truly love animals and nature and I hate to see any animal die for unnecessary reasons. This incident is especially sad, for what I explain at the end.
Late Monday afternoon I stopped work to water my backyard plants using water from my rain barrel. The hose connector doesn’t flow fast enough, so I typically just remove the mesh cover and dredge out the water with a pail. On this occasion, the mesh cover was already off—I’d failed to replace it when I watered plants on Sunday.
When I dipped the pail in, it struck something hard—like a floating rock. The barrel was down to maybe 2/3 full, at the most, so I didn’t see the waterline when I stuck the pail in.
I peered over the edge into the rain barrel and saw the rather large body of some poor creature. It was already dead, but far too large for me to remove it with a tool and too far down in the barrel to attempt to remove it by hand with gloves. The barrel was also too full to turn over, I maneuvered it away from edge of patio so the water would drain into yard.
I was too busy Tuesday and Wednesday to attempt to remove the animal body. Tt looked VERY large (and dark), so I assume it was a giant possum or woodchuck or swollen. I went out during my lunch break today to take care of it.
I dumped the barrel over, only to discover the dead creature wasn’t one, but TWO juvenile raccoons.
The especially sad part about this is that the two dead raccoons were holding hands, chest to chest, as if embracing, and their back legs were also interlocked.
I guess one had tried to save the other when it fell in or got in Sunday night. I’m just heartbroken. It’s very likely they were siblings, since they were the same size. I took a few pictures of the carcasses and then put them in a box with a shovel and buried in the back yard.
This just breaks my heart, because it was preventable. I should have taken the time to replace the mesh cover, or add the long dead limbs that I’ve used in the past to provide a way for an unfortunate creature to escape, if it ever fell in.
I once found a drowned chipmunk in a bucket and another time, several years ago, found a dead squirrel in the rain barrel. On that occasion, the mesh fabric I use as a mosquito guard had deteriorated and I hadn’t yet replaced it.
After those two incidents I’ve almost always kept sticks in the barrel and water buckets to help squirrels and chipmunks get out.
Anyway, I felt like writing about this would help me to get it off my chest. So if you read this far, I hope you’ll be cautioned to keep your rain barrels and buckets covered and take other precautions to prevent little critters from dying unnecessarily. It’s hard enough for them out in the wild these days!