Apple Thieves or Eaten by Animals?


“Dear PoPville,

My wife and I came home from the weekend away to find that all but one of the peach-sized apples growing in our backyard apple tree were gone. About a dozen or so were taken – the only one remaining looks like a worm got into it. Our backyard is enclosed by an 8-foot brick wall on all sides, so it would be quite an effort for a person to scale just to get some apples, but the disappearance of all but the worm-eaten apple is consistent with a human thief. We can’t imagine a squirrel or a bird could have taken them all, but is it possible that a raccoon or a fox or some other varmint might have done so? Any animals that would be likely to make off with so many? Any birds that could have done it?”

And speaking of racoons another reader asks:

“Labor Day raccoon sighting in Petworth near the Soldiers Home. Not pictured are two other large raccoons whom also shimmied down the neighbor’s downspout from the roof and to the the fence highway in the alley. They are not afraid of humans, and I swear one tried to snag a tomato. I’m afraid some trash issues in the alley may be attracting them. Any one have similar encounters? Should we call 311 or the non-profit City Wildlife?”

Ed. Note: I don’t think the District does anything about racoons (or possoms). You could call a private trapper like Adcock’s who I’ve used in the past. Anyone noticing more racoons than normal this year?

13 Comment

  • and while we’re at it, theres too many squirrels

  • If you cover the tree in cheese cloth – it keeps out the birds and other predators.

    It was probably a squirrel. One squirrel mowed through three sunflowers in a friend’s backyard in a couple of hours – they are capable of copious consumption.

  • “We can’t imagine a squirrel could have taken them all” — The squirrels can absolutely do this. They wait until things start to ripen and then they are gone literally overnight.

  • I’m thinking it was a chupacabra

  • Petworth CHUDS are the worst!

  • We had the same exact experience this summer. Came back from a long w-e and ALL our peaches were gone. Vanished. Not even a broken tree branch, a pit on the floor, a left over biten fruit. And yes, our yard is secluded and fenced 4 ways. Maybe the aliens?!?

  • houseintherear

    I watched a squirrel walk along the top of my fence, take the entire 10+ inch top off a sunflower, and take it. Squirrels are capable of anything.

  • Both squirrels and raccoons can be very discerning in the fruits and vegetables they take & I do think they keep track of when things are going to ripen, just like we do. The squirrels always took my tomatoes when they were perfectly ripe – never a day before. And, yes, they will take them all.

  • I’m sorry you lost your fruit but I get a kick out of your description that your apples were the size of peaches!
    1. Using one fruit to describe the size of another fruit.
    2. Aren’t apples and peaches approximately the same size to begin with.
    3. I ate an apple-sized peach for snack..

  • Definitely the animals. No human wants unripe fruits and veggies. But squirrels and raccoons love them. I caught a squirrel carrying an unripened tomato that was 6 times the size of the squirrel’s head. They are like ants – they can carry many times their own weight.

  • It’s likely squirrels or raccoons. I had several raccoons walk straight up to my camp fire and take food OUT OF THE FIRE all while I was trying to make noise to convince them to leave. They are smart and determined little buggers.

  • Squirrels and opossums both love to grab fruit the day before you’re going to pick it. They cleaned every plum off my tree. I have also lost lemons to squirrels. They pick it off the tree and take a bite. If it’s not ripe they leave it on the ground for me, but they will actually eat the ripe ones. I hate squirrels.

  • To the second question, you should call neither. Unless the raccoon or possum is clearly sick or injured or in your house there is nothing the city could (or should) do. Of course they are attracted by unsecured trash cans for an easy meal so the best you can do is keep your trash secured, encourage your neighbors to do the same and net your veggies. Even though we live in a city, we share our space with plenty of wildlife and the vast majority of the time, very peacefully.

    That being said, if you see an animal that is clearly sick or injured (and an opossum or raccoon that is out in the day time does not necessarily mean they are sick) you should call the Washington Humane Society Animal Care and Control Emergency Line ( (202) 576-6664). If it is overnight, you should know they only have one officer on duty for the whole city and this may not be a priority call so you should be patient. If you find an animal in the living space of your house (i.e. not your attic) they will come out and trap the animal but are only legally allowed to then release it nearby. They will not remove the animal and then drive it to another area. I think you are better off trapping the animal yourself and letting it go in that case.

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