As cold weather hits Pine View for the first time this year, students are not the only ones bundling up. Animals have been found in two buildings. Low temperatures coupled with construction, available food supplies, and underbrush have lead to rats in the red building. Pest control has commenced to remove all rodents from the building. A raccoon family — a mother and two babies — were found presiding above the science classes in the purple building.
The discovery of the rodents occurred on Jan. 2 in the red building, and West Florida Pest Control came out the next day and set traps. The building was inspected for possible entrances the rodents would have used, and traps were set that caught three rodents. This resulted in palm and oak tree limbs being cut down, as the branches could have been used as an avenue for rodents.
No further rodents have been found since the week following winter break.
“The custodians came immediately after we reported the problem,” Misty Tucak, third grade teacher, said. “They cut surrounding palms and repaired a broken screen.”
With the rodents appearing to be eliminated in the red building, focus turned to the purple building as raccoons took residence in the roof. A mother raccoon was discovered with her two babies over winter break. Florida law prohibits the removal of a lactating mother raccoon, thus delaying the removal of the raccoons.
The mother raccoon was caught on Jan 10, but the baby raccoons were still in the ceiling. Food, including a peanut butter jar, in science teacher Flo Ames’ classroom was taken by the baby raccoons.
During fifth period on Jan. 11, the excitement with the raccoons peaked as one of the babies fell through the ceiling into science teacher, Jason Miller’s classroom.
“I was sitting at my desk and I moved in the direction of the fall, and sure enough there was a raccoon with a jar on its head,” Miller said, “It could not see.”
The raccoon proceeded to scurry along the edge of the window, looking for a way out despite the peanut butter jar stuck on its head. Miller suspected that the jar had been on there a while, disorienting the animal.
“I used a towel to pick him up and I let him go. Then he came back later around 3:00 and I caught it again. I called the custodian and they took it to the rehab center,” Miller said.
The second baby raccoon was captured on Jan 12, and the family of raccoons was reunited at the Venice Wildlife Center.
“The district and pest control have gone through each building,” Brain Dorn said. “Some buildings had access points for humans, which have been patched.” Rats can fit in openings as small as a quarter, which required a thorough search by custodians. Raccoons need a slightly larger opening, but are still able to slip in small places.
With two separate sets of animals found in school buildings, construction and custodians are making efforts to prevent future invasions on campus.