John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Some people say finding one is less likely than getting hit by lightning.
For any modern-day Ahabs hunting the white raccoon that gnawed their leg, head on down to Charleston, West Virginia, where one’s been spotted slumming in a dumpster.
Sure enough, there were five young raccoons, including one albino, that had climbed in, looking for something to eat, but couldn't get out. The rescue was a simple matter of putting a board in the dumpster so they could climb out. The incident reminded me that in this day and age, for industrious and opportunistic raccoons, a dumpster is often their natural setting.
Most folks will go their lives without glimpsing a white raccoon. The odds of spotting one have been estimated at 1 in 500,000, or even 1 in 750,000, making the encounter less likely than getting struck by lightning. There is the possibility that the dumpster-coon isn’t full albino; Butler writes he’s not sure “if this fella is albino or leucistic (partial absence of pigment) since he has the stripes and mask, they are just very light.”
But still, it’s a sweet find. Here are its fellow travelers in trash, for what it’s worth: