As It Happens

Remembering Bandit, the world's largest pet raccoon who was 'addicted to Pringles'

This episode of As It Happened: The Archive Edition is all about pests. You'll meet a Florida man who found a cockroach in his ear, a cyber security expert who tracks squirrel attacks, and Bandit, the world's largest pet raccoon.

In 2000, Mary Lou Finlay spoke with Bandit's owner about her Guinness World Record-holding pet

Deborah 'Pepper' Klitsch and her pet raccoon Bandit. (John F. Simitz/The Morning Call/Wikipedia)

The theme for this episode of our summer series As It Happened: The Archive Edition is "Pests." 

Whether by wing, paw, or claw, the As It Happens archives are overrun with an infestation of pesky animal stories that need to be aired out again.

You'll meet a Florida man who found a cockroach living in his ear. You'll hear a cautionary tale about a suitcase full of spicy pepperoni, a hungry flock of seagulls, and an open hotel window. And you'll squawk and screech along to a montage of seagull impressions that As It Happens listeners left on Talkback.

Here are some of the highlights from this episode.

Snack food scavenger

Everybody knows that raccoons will eat just about anything they can get their paws on. But Deborah "Pepper" Klitsch's pet raccoon Bandit prefers a more refined menu.

In 2000, former As It Happens host Mary Lou Finlay spoke with the Pennsylvania woman after Guinness World Records crowned Bandit the world's largest raccoon.

"We went and put bolts on our snack cabinets because he figured out how to open them," Klitsch said.

"He loved Froot Loops. He was addicted to Pringles, and he loved Oreo cookies."

Sadly, after an eventful and snack food-full life, Bandit died in 2004, following a bout of illness.

Klitsch said her Guinness World Record-holding pet raccoon Bandit (not shown here) weighed 25.1 kilograms, or 'about the size of a medium-size dog.' (AFP via Getty Images)

The 24-hour laundro-cat

Sometimes so-called pests like raccoons can become pets. But sometimes it's our pets that become the pests.

In 1998, As It Happens guest host Jeff Collins spoke with Cecile Saint-Pierre of Mattawa, Ont., about her cat Pepé — and his habit of stealing clothes during nightly prowls around the neighbourhood.

"He's under house arrest right now. He's grounded!" Saint-Pierre said.

"He's brought towels. He's brought tea towels. He's brought long-johns. He's brought T-shirts. He's brought a dress. My basket is all full."

'He's possessed,' said Cecile Saint-Pierre, when asked about why her cat keeps stealing clothes from neighbours' clotheslines. (Getty Images)

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed overlords

Rest assured, most of the bugs, birds, rodents and other assorted vermin you'll meet in this episode are pretty tame. At worst, they may be a nuisance, or make you a bit squeamish.

But one pest in this episode poses a real threat. And quite frankly, the threat is so great that we feel it's our responsibility as a public broadcaster to reveal the degree of power these particular pests possess.

Of course, we're talking about squirrels.

In 2016, As It Happens host Carol Off spoke with the creator of cybersquirrel1.com.

"When it comes to power outages, there seems to be much more hype and fear and uncertainty and doubt attributed to the cyber attack versus the squirrel attack, which happens all the time," the website's creator said.

For obvious reasons, this brave comrade asked to remain anonymous. But he kindly offered an unprecedented window into his research, and website, which maps, "unclassified cyber squirrel operations against critical infrastructure worldwide."

Consider this interview a pest-PSA, of the highest order.

The man behind the website cybersquirrel1.com says squirrels are the real threat in cyber attacks. (Tom Dorsey/AP)

You can hear these stories and more on the "Pests" episode of As it Happened: The Archive Edition

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