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Weird Trail Cam Photo

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 23rd, 2007

weird trail pix

With all the talk during this fall of what is caught and what is not on trail camera operations, how strange can trail cam photographs be? Take a look at this one, above.

That is a raccoon (Procyon lotor) on top of or riding a wild boar (Sus scrofa).

I guess there are some unusual photos of raccoons out there.

hunting raccoon

Loren Coleman – has written 5491 posts on this site.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


40 Responses to “Weird Trail Cam Photo”

  1. Richard888 responds:

    Ha ha ha! I almost fell to the floor belly in pain.

  2. forsakenfuture responds:

    Thats freaking crazy!

  3. finny responds:

    Teamwork!

  4. DWA responds:

    Freaking crazy?

    I’m pretty sure that boar is going to give that raccoon a boost to grab what looks like a bag of food. If so, that’s not near the most extreme example of inter-species cooperation we know about.

    Both pigs and racoons are very smart critters, and they’re both omnivores. If that bag comes down, they both benefit.

    Provided, of course, that is what we’re seeing there.

    Scientists don’t observe animals in the wild nearly enough to see all the behaviors of which they are capable.

    This is yet another lesson in the folly of trusting science to tell you everything. Science doesn’t even come close.

    To make it even more unusual, it’s pretty obvious to me that either one of those animals could get that meal by itself. Maybe we’re not the only critter that knows variety is the spice of life, or two heads are better than one. Man, two more bastions of Man’s Uniqueness fall. I’m crushed.

  5. mystery_man responds:

    Well I’ll be… that is really strange for a raccoon to be riding a wild boar like that. What an incredibly bizarre photo. I guess the only way it could really be stranger is if it was a raccoon riding on a Bigfoot’s back! :)

    Speaking of interesting trail cam tidbits, there was recently a project done to set up trail cams along the Appalachian trail in order to see what kind of biodiversity was in the area when humans were not around. The pics turned up some interesting discoveries, among them showing more bears than expected and even some bobcats which are very elusive in the area. Unfortunately no cougars were photographed, which is what a lot of scientists were hoping to see.

    I personally think trail cams are a great way to get a sneak peek at what animals do when no one is watching and are a promising avenue for getting solid photographic evidence of Bigfoot.

  6. showme responds:

    Boar/Racoon: Weirdest symbiotic relationship I’ve ever seen.

    Racoon/Hunting Dog: He’s just doing the Heimlich Maneuver, right?

  7. jodzilla responds:

    I wonder if Hogzilla ever had this problem.

  8. mystery_man responds:

    Just adding a bit to my previous post to clarify for those who are interested, the Appalachian Trail stretches 2,175 miles, going from Georgia to maine. It is very valuable as sort of a corridor for animals between fragmented habitats on the East Coast. In the case of this project (it was done by the Smithsonian Institute), web cams were able to shed light on the incredible biodiversity of the area and actually showed that the trail ecosystem was healthier than expected. As they get cheaper and more advanced, I think these trail cams are going to be an enormously useful research tool for cryptozoology as well as other fields.

    I should also clarify that by “cougar”, I meant the Eastern cougar subspecies. It would have been a pretty cool find to have gotten a pic of one of those in the area.

  9. graybear responds:

    Trailcams are a very effective way of monitoring the local wildlife, especially as inexpensive as cameras are becoming. Personally, I’d like to see trailcams set up in pairs or triplets to provide different views of the photocapture. This might make mangy bears (or not) easier to differentiate from true unknowns.

  10. squatch-toba responds:

    Hi Loren,..Something just looks strange about the trail cam picture above. Look at the shadow of the hog…looks odd to me. I just think that if a racoon jumped or tried to climb onto the back of a large wild hog in the dark, the racoon would get a lot more than a happy little ride!!!! Too weird.

  11. F15Pilot responds:

    It looks like a scene from a Disney movie!

  12. GLS responds:

    All,
    Interesting behavior yes, but take a closer look and you’ll see another Coon, head/face-on, directly under the leaning post. Perhaps the one on the hogs back was ‘protecting’ the other? Possible? Yes. Plausible? Perhaps, we’ll never know.

    Still and all, a fun pic and as above-mentioned, more Trail Cams should be used in efforts like this to further understand our world.

    Best regards and good viewing!

  13. Rappy responds:

    I have seen boars, I have seen raccoons, but I have never seen a boarcoon team before. If they are really working together, that is some interesting symbiosis.

  14. Ceroill responds:

    I almost can hear them singing that song from The Lion King…just kidding. But it is one more illustration of how life in the real world can’t be easily contained within the lines, as it were.

  15. mrbf2007 responds:

    # F15Pilot responds: November 23rd, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    It looks like a scene from a Disney movie!

    It does, F15!!! That pic made my day!!! HILARIOUS!!!!!! Thanks, Loren!!!!!!

  16. bill green responds:

    lol thats definetly a very interesting trail cam photo indeed. thanks bill :)

  17. caddy-ogopogo responds:

    that is weird

  18. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Are you sure that is not a deleted scene from “Over the Hedge”??? :-)

  19. Logan5 responds:

    With a still picture it is sometimes difficult to understand what is going on. Raccoons can sometimes be nasty critters who defend their food energetically. I find it much more believable that this ‘coon is trying to run the boar off rather than that there is some type of interspecies cooperation going on.

  20. mystery_man responds:

    Logan5- Then what would you say about the raccoon and the dog pic? That looks like some interspecies cooperation going on to me. :)

    Yes, I don’t think anyone is seriously considering that raccoons have some sort of arrangement with wild boars whereby they get free piggyback rides. It seems pretty safe to say that this raccoon is perhaps being aggressive towards the boar and the photo just happened to be taken at an amusing time. Like you said, raccoons can be pretty nasty sometimes.

    But then there’s that raccoon with the dog… :)

  21. Drew S. responds:

    I don’t know that the raccoon is being antagonistic towards the boar or vice versa. In fact, they both look pretty calm. Look at the raccoon’s leg. It’s splayed out the side as if supporting itself, which isn’t a defensive or offensive posture. If you’ve ever seen a raccoon flip out, they’re like a little chattering tornado. And that’s only IF they’re pissed. The raccoon’s reputation as being a randomly aggressive creature is pretty overblown, mostly because of the fear of rabies. They can and do defend themselves, but they aren’t pissed off all the time like badgers.

    Looking at the picture, this one looks like he’s taking a ride. Similarly, the boar seems pretty calm. If it has a pissed raccoon clawing it’s back, even with it’s thick skin, it would likely be in a charging motion or rolling on the ground trying to get it off. Again looking at the leg position, it seems to be casually in mid stride. Boars aren’t shy. If something smaller than them is attacking them, they know how to deal with it quickly and decisively.

    Looking at photographs critically is incredibly important. There’s very little in this photograph that indicates there’s any antagonism going on. It seems to be a fairly calm raccoon riding on the back of a fairly calm boar. And raccoons being calm around other animals isn’t anywhere near unprecedented. I’ve seen raccoons and skunks eating right next to one another before while walking through the woods.

  22. jules responds:

    Well – I have seen some very odd animal freinds before. I saw a movie where a woman said that a bird and fish can fall in love – but where would they live?!

  23. mystery_man responds:

    Drew S- But this is just one frame of one moment captured in time. How can you be so reasonably sure how calm the two are? They look calm but with only one frame, there is no way to tell that for sure. The raccoon may have just been landing on its back at that exact moment. It may have been in mid jump, then immediately fallen back off. Are you suggesting that some sort of symbiotic relationship between boars and their raccoon friends is a more plausible explanation?

    Nobody said they were pissed off ALL of the time, but a raccoon can be nasty when they are defending themselves, and that could be the case here. Animals calmly eating side by side is one thing, this kind of piggy back riding behavior with the two species involved that we see here is quite another. These wild animals are not all sedate, cute little things, and should not be anthropomorphized, they are not all frolicking together in the woods, piggy back riding like something out of a Disney movie. I admit that the two do seem to be calm, but what of this behavior, what was its purpose and WHY is the boar so calm with a raccoon riding on its back? I suppose there are reasons, but nothing we can reliably assume with this one frame. What is pictured is a bizarre behavior if it is two calm animals and I see nothing far fetched or unreasonable about suggesting that there could be some early stages of aggression going on here.

    You are right, these photos need to be looked at critically. And I say there is nothing in this one momentary frame that rules there ISN’T possibly any antagonism going on and that some previously unknown cooperation between the two species is being witnessed here.

  24. mystery_man responds:

    That being said, it would be incredibly interesting to have seen multiple frames of this scene. This photo has really gotten me to speculating about what is going on here and I think a lot of questions could’ve been answered with even one more frame. I personally do not think a wild boar would take too kindly to a raccoon jumping up and riding on its back, but I suppose stranger things have happened. There is just no telling with this one frame.

  25. DWA responds:

    Is some sort of symbiosis a fair conclusion here? Well, it’s at least as fair as the loony notion of a raccoon attacking a wild boar, for any reason. If I were to bet absolutely against one or the other, it would be the latter, for what is an obvious reason not only to me but to both protagonists: that raccoon is dinner in the latter situation – and it knows it. Wild boar are not vegetarians; they will eat any meat they can get, and this ‘coon is offering itself up. It’s exactly like a gazelle attacking a lion. It absolutely will not happen unless the gazelle is making a last-ditch fight for its life – something that does not appear to be what is going on here.

    When I was little, I encountered a raccoon beside a snowy trail in the woods. It raised its hackles and bared its teeth, not happy at all to see me. Why it didn’t leave the scene I don’t know; I know I was too fascinated to leave. Then two older kids showed up, on bikes, and after a long standoff during which one of them went off to get a bushel basket and a board to cover it, forced the ‘coon into the bucket and rode off, with nothing near this in terms of defense from the ‘coon. (That boar would flat have killed both of those boys.) I’d agree with the poster who says that the nastiness of ‘coons – unless they are in life/death situations, in which a beaver has been known to kill a wolverine – is way overrated. No way a ‘coon is attacking that monster. It’s going off to find easier eats.

    Says me. ;-) And my “conclusion” is as valid as any other that anyone will make here.

    Baboon babies play with chimpanzee babies in the wild, with the adults of both nearby – and adult chimps will kill and eat any young baboon they can catch. Polar bears are mortal enemies of dogs, which are used by Inuit to hunt them – and a polar bear has been filmed, a thoroughly wild one, playing with a chained husky.

    Nature is red in tooth and claw. So much so, in fact, that animals will cooperate to get the food they both need. Look at coyote and badger; look at raven and wolf. One does not have to have a Disneyesque view of the wild to speculate that here are two species cutting a deal to get at something either could alone – with considerably more effort.

    Or maybe the raccoon just wants a ride, and the boar accommodates to get its back scratched.

    Lesson? We do not know enough to know WHAT is going on here.

    But it’s fun to guess.

    Speculate. But don’t say anything is any more likely than anything else. Because you – we – DON’T know.

  26. planettom responds:

    Awesome and hilarious photo for sure! But I wonder if there is more information available for the photo. Loren, do we know where this was taken or by whom? De we know for sure that these are wild animals? Just curious and playing a little devi’s advocate. Maybe these are domesticated pets or farm animals. Maybe this is somebody’s hog and neighborly coons? :-) Either way, wild or not, it is a funny photo. Would like to see more in the series if they are available.

  27. Bob K. responds:

    A wise and well written post, DWA. As for the second photo-I just hope MRS. Racoon doesnt see that…….

  28. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- I didn’t really want to get into a big discussion on this one photo, but some things you said are not entirely accurate. Even with prey animal, some have been known to be quite fierce protecting their young, even to the point of trying to ward off lions. That is not to say they are successful always, but they do try.

    Raccoons will and can attack larger animals when the need arises. It is NOT a loony idea. I have to disagree and say that this is not exactly like a gazelle attacking a lion. A gazelle is a lion’s natural prey species and they fall into a set predator and prey cycle that has evolved over millions of years. Even then, lions do not generally attack completely healthy gazelle’s, but rather the weak or young. This looks like a very full grown and healthy raccoon to me and they are also not a natural prey item for a wild boar. Raccoons also DO attack larger animals when the need arises. Raccoons have been known to attack dogs much larger than themselves and they can be a lot bolder than you seem to be giving them credit for. It is simply not correct to say that a raccoon could not or would not attack a wild boar or any other larger animal it was threatened by, not necessarily to kill it or maim it, but to try and drive it off. It most certainly could happen.
    This is not to say that raccoons are vicious beasts, but that they can be very bold when trying to drive off a potential threat. And if, like you said, a wild boar will actively attack a raccoon “offering itself up”, getting any meat they can get, then why on Earth would a raccoon want to try and risk riding one?

    Nature is a vast and complex thing. I did not try to imply that animals never cooperate in the wild, but in most cases this is a well established and documented thing. There is often an evolutionary symbiosis going on as well, which is lacking in raccoons and wild boars. The examples you give are not necessarily the rule and it would be oversimplifying things to say that animals will always work together with interspecies cooperation to get what they want. I could give you many, many examples that contradict what you say, but I do not want to get too far off topic. Let’s just say It just is not always the case, and I personally have never heard of raccoons working together with wild boars.

    But I have heard of raccoons attacking dogs and even an enraged one taking nips at a horse’s legs. So bottom line is, you simply cannot say that if there has to be an absolute possibility to rule out, it must be the idea of a raccoon trying to chase off a wild boar and that a previously unknown cooperation between the two species we see here is going on.

    With what I know at this stage, I cannot rule anything out, but it is certainly a mistake to rule out a raccoon attacking as you have done. It is not a crazy notion at all. I will admit though, that this could be an isolated incident and that these particular individuals have developed some understanding. But don’t make any presumptions about what is a loony idea and what is not.

    This is fun to speculate about, so lets keep it at that and not go off saying one idea is crazier than another. I could go on and on about why the scenario I mentioned was possible and I’m sure you could go on and on about why cooperation, but in the end nature is often enigmatic. We could both be wrong.

  29. mystery_man responds:

    I am basically trying to say that you should not underestimate the drive of some animals to survive or protect their young. There are many instances of smaller weaker animals, or prey animals such as gazelle holding their ground against a threat, especially when young are involved or they are cornered. In light of this, a raccoon trying to chase off a boar is not a far fetched idea at all. I won’t say that is definitely what is happening here, but I will that it is wrong to think that an animal will not defend itself merely because “it is dinner and knows it”. Things are a bit more complex than that.

  30. DWA responds:

    M_M: I know things are more complex than that.

    In fact, that was precisely the point of my post.

    I see too many folks jumping to too many conclusions on this site, when one thing crypto doesn’t need is that sort of thinking. I saw someone saying that this being anything other than an unfriendly encounter was unlikely. I just wanted to point out that a ‘coon getting unfriendly over a food source with something as nasty as a boar is equally “unlikely.” (Nipping a horse’s legs? I might see a raccoon thinking it can get away with that.) In fact, just about any scenario resulting in a photo like that one is extremely “unlikely.”

    Yet, there it is, hence the point I explicitly made: we DON’T know what’s going on there, and we CAN’t postulate a “likely” cause. Or say that one is likelier than another. My point was that what one person considered the obvious source of the action wasn’t, in fact, obvious at all.

    That’s it, honest.

    In the instances you point out in which an animal turns on something much bigger, you make my point: either that animal, or its young, are in mortal danger. It really doesn’t have, or see, a choice. Otherwise, you won’t see that behavior. I know how bold raccoons are, as I showed, from my personal experience. But crazy, they ain’t. And raccoons simply don’t have to fight critters like that for food. They’ll find what they need somewhere else.

    Unless they decide they don’t want to. And either attack an animal much larger than them, or come to some other arrangement to get what they want.

    Unlikely? Sure. Like a wild polar bear playing with a husky.

    As you say: nature is vast and varied.

    And our thinking has to allow for that.

  31. mystery_man responds:

    Actually, I’ve been looking at this photo way more than I ever thought I would, and I’ll admit I’m starting to see what some others here have been saying, such as DWA and Drew S. I’m doing a bit of an about face here in light of my continued observations of what is pictured.

    I will say that raccoons, and indeed many smaller animals are capable of trying to shoo away a larger threat and displaying acts of boldness belying their size. In this situation, the raccoon could have taken a swing at the boar for a variety of reasons, to protect its young, to defend what it sees as its own food stash, etc. This is definitely a possibility for a raccoon, and saying that a raccoon would never do it is simply not true. However, looking carefully at this photo I have to admit that when it comes down to it, there really doesn’t seem to be any evidence of this here. I have several reasons for this.

    First off, the creatures DO seem to be calm, and I’ve come to the conclusion that even if this photo was taken towards the beginning of aggression, there would be more of a sign of that one or more of the animals was more perturbed than they seem to be. I now think that Drew S was maybe right. The boar really does seem casually in mid stride and the raccoon actually seems to be balancing itself atop it. There is no sign of a savage lunge or clawing, or raised hackles on the part of the raccoon. If this was a bid to attack the boar, perhaps we’d see more agitation from the boar as well. Hmmmm.

    Another thing is the what appears to be a second raccoon in the photo. This animal seems to be continuing foraging as if nothing strange or dangerous is happening. I would think that if the boar was considered enough of a threat for the back riding one to try and attack to begin with, we wouldn’t see that other raccoon acting so seemingly casual. It doesn’t seem to even be paying attention. Hmmm.

    As odd as it sounds to me, I have done some re thinking considering the visual evidence here and now accept that there is a likelihood that for whatever reason, that raccoon is actually riding on a wild boar. Maybe it climbed up there for some reason, got no aggressive response from the boar, and continued out of curiosity, who knows? I do know that raccoons are fairly intelligent creatures. Out camping once, some of them got into a pack of Hershey’s Kisses that someone left out and each one was individually unwrapped, with the wrappers all on a little silver pile. They can also work latches on those campsite closets you find. So maybe this raccoon somehow figured out a way to use the boar to its advantage, and the boar just didn’t care.

    So I’m thinking that the raccoon attack explanation may not be the case here. I’m sure it does happen, but not apparently here it would seem. What a fascinating and cool little photo we have here. I’m happy DWA (whose opinions I value) and others are taking the time to discuss it.

  32. mystery_man responds:

    I also noticed what I think is some sort of feed machine or bag to draw the animals in. Wasn’t sure what those poles were at first, but that is what I think it must be. That would definitely give the raccoon a reason to get up higher off the ground to investigate.

  33. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- Thanks for the good discussion here, I think you make a lot of good points as usual and you seem to understand what I’m saying too. Really all we can do is speculate here and I find it an interesting exercise. Who would have thought this thread would go on so long? :)

  34. cryptidsrus responds:

    Weirder things have happened.

    And are happening every day.

    Awfully, cool, I’ll admit.

    “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio;/Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
    —-HAMLET.

    Paraphrase from memory.

  35. cryptidsrus responds:

    Animals cooperate anyway, just like humans.

  36. Carpenoctem666 responds:

    lol! so THATS what animals do when we’re all asleep.

  37. DWA responds:

    m_m: Thanks.

    Photos like this are inevitably going to lead to speculation. The key to increasing knowledge is letting the speculation lead where it does, and not tamping down any possibility within reason, rather than channeling it around what our limited observations tell us SHOULD be happening there.

    There just doesn’t seem to be a particularly good reason for the ‘coon to do that or for the boar to tolerate it.

    But there’s the photo. (You know what’s really refreshing about this? I haven’t read ANYBODY tell us it was Photoshopped. ;-) )

    Given my frustrating-I-know tendency to work the sasquatch into every discussion, there’s a lesson there too. Scientists need to be open to taking in, relaying and – this is most important – ACCEPTING as possibilities any observations their brethren might make out in the field. Am I the only one who wonders how many field biologists have seen things out there that their career prospects and their fear of ridicule told them, successfully, to keep to themselves?

  38. Saint Vitus responds:

    The statement about wild pigs not being strict vegetarians is true; they have even been known to prey on newborn deer fawns and even venomous snakes. These animals are obviously well fed, so they apparantly get along fine.

  39. Brent Akridge responds:

    My friends and I had some raccoons when we were teenagers in NW AL, and I have seen this behavior before. Raccoons seem to find pure pleasure in harassing larger animals. I’ve seen them jumping on and off the backs of horses, cows, people, and my poor longsuffering German Shepherd in a weird game of “tag”. I think it was more likely harassment than cooperation.

  40. sschaper responds:

    Those are juvenile raccoons, so they still have more than usual playfulness left in them.

    Growing up, I had neighbors with pet racoon kits (they did the born free thing when they got older – this is farm country, no problems) and my aunt had pet racoons when she was young. Raccoons are like monkeys. On the one hand they make great pets because they are so smart, on the other hand they make rotton pets because they are so smart. And racoons have thumbs. . .They can open any latch that we can. Even horses can open latches, and that without hands. Imagine North America’s equivalent of a monkey running loose in your house, looking for food. . .

    Oh, they have very sharp teeth, too. A playful nip can easily draw blood.

    Our cats would sleep in the dog house with the collie, would even sleep on his back. I think animal behavior may be ‘wilder’ than we imagine, especially in a day when so few people live close to nature.

    I’d love to have trail cam to put up at the farm pond, 1/2 mile from any road, draws much wildlife. We’ve had beaver (in Iowa!), some larger mustlid of some sort, coyotes, foxes, and scads of deer. It would be interesting to see what was going on when we weren’t around. That laves out the normal pond and marsh critters for this area.

    Wild boar are not vegans! I’d rather face wolves than wild boars any day.



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