He just wanted some ravioli.
The Peace River Wildlife Center received a call Monday morning after a Port Charlotte woman found a young raccoon in her backyard with a ravioli can stuck on his head.
“Young kids love Chef Boyardee, so why wouldn’t a juvenile male raccoon want some?” said Amy Rhoads, one of the center’s wildlife rehabilitators.
Officer Jordan Enriquez of Charlotte County Animal Control was dispatched to pick up the stuck mammal. After being transported to the center’s surgery building, Rhoads, Enriquez and one of the center’s volunteers tried maneuvering the almost-empty pasta can off of the raccoon’s head.
“It was quite lodged on there,” Rhoads said. Even worse, it “didn’t look like there was that much (ravioli) in there for all that effort.”
Enriquez and Rhoads trimmed the can and gave the animal anesthesia to settle him down. “We didn’t want him to hurt himself,” she said.
Once the pasta-craving coon woke up from the anesthesia, his face was freed. The Peace River Wildlife Center vaccinated him for rabies, distemper and gave him dewormer, then released him later that day where he had been originally found. “That’s the territory they know and it will be easier for him to get back with his family,” Rhoads said.
The resident who found the raccoon told Rhoads she had seen an adult raccoon with its young within the last couple of weeks. The raccoon was most likely part of that clan.
And, no, the raccoon was not named.
“We try our best not to name the patients because we want to get them back into the wild,” Rhoads said. “But he should be named ‘Chef.’”
But, Chef’s story is not unique.
In fact, he was one of the lucky ones, coming out of his procedure with a minor laceration near his ear. But the handful of animals that are transported to the center for pasta cans, glass jars or soda cans stuck to their bodies usually have the can stuck for a lot longer than one morning. This can make it harder for the animal to breathe, and, with its mouth being covered, it’s slowly starving. “Usually you see deep lacerations” from the animal attempting to escape, Rhoads said. “When you take the can off, it’s usually not a good site.”
To prevent local raccoons from getting stuck trying to retrieve some leftovers, Rhoads suggested residents clean their cans out, recycle and tightly seal their lids.
Call the Peace River Wildlife Center at 941-637-3830 if an injured, sick or orphaned animal is found. If one of the center’s volunteers can’t come out, Charlotte County Animal Control can transport the animal.