Tuesday, February 5. 2019
Do you remember how much fun it was to play with Styrofoam as a kid. Some people get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about touching styrofoam but most kids loved building, constructing and best of all breaking it apart.
I can remember getting my hands on the chunks of styrofoam used as packing material from purchased items. I would break each block into a million pieces. So satisfying!
Styrofoam is also used to insulate the top of attic hatches. It is ideal because it is rigid, can be cut to the exact size and it is a great insulator.
As I began my career in wildlife control I was surprised to learn that humans are not alone in their desire to manipulate Styrofoam into small pieces. Raccoons cannot resist clawing and rolling it between their paws. Raccoons have extremely sensitive forepaws. If you have ever watched a raccoon in a stream, without looking down they use them to “see” food underwater by feeling with their fingers.
While I am fascinated that raccoons also find it gratifying to destroy Stryrofoam, I absolutely hate the fact that they do it above the attic hatch (see photo). Case in point, when we need to access the attic to conduct a search for babies, the attic hatch is pushed straight up in order to clear the framework it sits in. Because the raccoons residing in the attic have literally reduced the Styrofoam to the cellular level, a billion pieces proceed to fall directly onto my head, down my shirt and cover a 3 foot swath directly below the hatch. What a mess and there is no way to avoid it. Cleaning it up is certainly no easy task. The homeowner will walk in the room, think that we did it and say “what did you do?” And it doesn’t stop there, I will continue to shed particles of Styrofoam into my truck and at other customers homes. I will even arrive home at the end of the day, remove my uniform and find pieces stuck to all parts of my body.
Only now can I fully appreciate my dad’s distaste for having to deal with the aftermath of my styrofoam obsession.
By Brad Gates, B.Sc.
Brad Gates is the owner and president of AAA Gates Wildlife Control. He has over 35 years experience in the humane wildlife removal and prevention industry.