Uninvited Guest: Raccoon
Habitat: Common throughout most of the United States. Prefers wooded and waterfront property and access to prepared foods.
Annoying habits: Empties the garbage and plays kick the can. Enjoys taking a dip and snacking on fish. Stages nocturnal raids, using its dexterous paws to rip into bags of Fritos.
What you need to know: Likes to nest in chimneys and attics. Strong, smart, and omnivorous. Can be a carrier of rabies.
What you need to do: Call a contractor to install a mesh chimney cap (look under Chimney Builders and Repairs in the Yellow Pages). Trim tree limbs near the house. Keep pet food indoors. Put some ammonia-soaked newspapers at the bottoms of garbage cans and cayenne on top of the garbage. Tie down lids with rope.
If that doesn't work: Trap and deport the invaders. Consult your state's Department of Natural Resources for rules on releasing raccoons. For the names of wildlife-control operators who can get rid of the animal for you, look up Animal Removal Services in the Yellow Pages or go to icwdm.org.