Um, is that a raccoon climbing my tree?! That’s what went through my mind when I recently locked eyes with one after stepping out of my front door.

I live in a quiet neighborhood on the west side that's not near empty land or a lot of brush, but close enough to the mountain to attract El Paso’s nocturnal animals. While not a daily occurrence, wild animals are not a rare sight. But the racoon was a first. I wasn't aware we had any in El Paso.

I usually leave for work around 3:30 a.m., and over the years I’ve crossed paths with a herd of deer, skunks, opossums, and many a fox. I’ve laid eyes on a coyote, have heard owls hooting, and the nearby howls of what I assumed to be wolves. Once I even heard all kinds of moaning and groaning that turned out to be a couple making the sexy time in the backseat of a parked car.

I know because I tapped on the window to make sure the person was okay before becoming aware of the uncompromising position she was in and the surprised look on the guy’s face. Yeah, that was awkward.

Last month, at the beginning of the spooky season, I even stared down a pair of glowing red eyes that appeared at ground level just out of reach of the porch light. They quickly disappeared into thin air when I began walking towards them. I still haven't come up with a reasonable explanation for that one.

But I digress. The raccoon.

I thought I had seen all the night things there are to see around here, so imagine my surprise when I rolled up on the masked creature of the night. It was a first for me, so I just stood there looking at it as it sat there looking back at me. It felt like what is referred to as a Mexican Standoff.

That raccoon hung there motionless for so long, I was able to take the phone out of my back pocket, tap in the passcode, and snap a few blurry photos.

mike

After poking around the internet for a bit, come to find out, yes, we do indeed have raccoons in El Paso.

These so-called suburban raccoons are extremely adaptable to neighborhood life and are plentiful enough that there are numerous raccoon removal services in town. But, as cute and fluffy are these animals are with their wide-eyed stare and innocent demeanor, the internet says they are no bueno and next time I come face to face with one I shouldn't approach it because they are mayhem in fur and can attack. So, note to self.

Oh, and I also learned there are beavers in El Paso. Whaa?! Who knew.

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