Nautilus

How a Kids’ Cartoon Created a Real-Life Invasive Army

Tales of monsters invading Japan are a longstanding tradition, usually involving menacing kaiju—literally “strange creatures”—rising from the sea to wreak havoc on a Japanese city. At this very moment, the country is engaged in just such a war, with an entire army of invasive creatures, but they’re both less fearsome and more adorable than Godzilla or Mothra. And they’re from North America, not the bottom of the ocean. They’re common raccoons, Procyon lotor. Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction.

Our story begins when a young Wisconsin boy named Sterling North adopts an orphaned baby raccoon and names him Rascal. The boy and the raccoon were inseparable as best friends, and for a year they did everything together. They fished the local streams and lakes, wandered the rural countryside together, and went for bike rides with Rascal riding in a basket attached to the handlebars. At the end of their year

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