HOUSTON--At the Stop and Save in Richwood, you’ll find lottery tickets, beer and fishing bait, plus a gaze of raccoons--that’s what they’re called in groups. They've taken up residence in the woods behind the store.
"They eat everything," said Stephanie Rutkowske, a local animal lover. "Doritos, Cheetos, chocolate. Or a big bag of cat food. They’ll eat that just as good too."
They are more beggars than bandits, and Rutkowske says she’s counted as many as 62 at one time.
"They’re just gentle, and they’re sweet," said Rutkowske. "I had one when I was little, so I’m kind of partial to them."
Apparently, she’s not alone. Others stop by to feed them daily, which isn’t such a good idea according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.
"They’re a wild animal," said Keith Crenshaw, an urban wildlife biologist. "If you come across a female protecting her young, there’s no telling what they will do."
They’re also known to carry rabies and distemper.
"We’re concerned about disease transmission to people," said Crenshaw. "They’re mammals. We’re mammals."
"They say that raccoons are carriers of rabies and different diseases, but if they’re not acting funny, then they’re fine," said Rutkowske.
Never mind that nocturnal creatures feasting on Cool Ranch Doritos at high noon might be construed as acting funny.
"I don’t know," said Rutkowske. "We’re tearing so many things down around here in all these cities, there’s not much wildlife left."
She says she’s intent on enjoying the wildlife that is.