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If you ever need a cozy pastime or something to help you decompress after a stressful `day, I highly recommend trail camera live streams (and animal live streams in general). Seeing what animals pass through the woods and our backyards when humans aren’t around is great, especially when a variety of creatures use the same route.

I had wanted backyard cameras for a while before we installed some at our house, though the circumstances that finally led us to get some were quite morbid: one winter break, my sister and I noticed something in the middle of our yard. From our kitchen window, it looks like a piece of a branch that had fallen off during a windy day. Upon closer inspection, it was, in fact, a very mangled raccoon corpse.

After we got over the shock and unpleasantness of gazing upon such a thing, me and my sister resolved to bury the poor creature, we got to questioning how it got there. What animal dragged it over? Why was it left there? Why hadn’t another animal picked up the remains? The question of how the animal got there probably wasn’t that big a mystery: it was very likely a coyote, but it still seemed a little strange that a predator would leave its leftovers out in the open.

The plot thickened after we buried the poor little raccoon: something kept digging it up. Over and over, my sister would rebury the raccoon, trying in vain to lay it to rest in peace, and every night a mystery animal would come to dig it up. My sister tried digging a deeper hole – it still resurfaced the next day. The kicker is, whatever was digging it up wasn’t taking it with them either, though of course, the corpse was suffering a bit of rearrangement each time.

An animal going to such lengths to dig up a buried animal was pretty enticing, so after discussing with our family we finally agreed to install cameras around our house, including two facing the backyard. In an unfortunate and anti-climactic discovery, it turned out that the cameras were too far from the burial site/perpetual dig spot to capture the guilty party. So each morning we’d wake up to a resurfaced raccoon and no closure on who (or what) was responsible. 

Fortunately, despite the cameras’ failures to fulfill their initial purpose, we see lots of critters coming to and fro. The cameras can be a bit finicky with the cold, but now that spring is approaching, both the cameras and animals are starting to get more active.

Okay, enough backstory, and onto ranking/reviewing some four-legged neighbors.

  1. Cat Neighbor Pal

This technically doesn’t even count as he’s not exactly a wild animal, but my neighbor buddy needs an honorary number one spot as he’s the only animal we see on the cameras where it’s actually a good idea for us to go outside to see him, and it always makes my day when he pays us a visit!

  1. Opossums

These are definitely the most rare visitors, and they’ve only started coming (very occasionally) very recently. I’m obsessed with their little waddles and keep hoping for them to come back.

  1. Deer

The first animals our cameras picked up were two deer in our front yard. If I’d been awake in the middle of the night, I would have been able to look right outside my window to see them grazing. This one gets a high ranking because for over a year, that was the only time deer ever came, or at least were caught on camera – until this last week, when one came and hung out in our yard in the daytime, and then another (or the same one) passed through just a few nights ago. 

  1. Coyotes

The coolest animals are always the most elusive. I used to go on daily walks and have only ever encountered a coyote once (we made brief eye contact from afar but he seemed utterly disinterested); they’re quite adept at avoiding human perception. There have been several occasions where coyotes have passed right through the yard or the woods beyond and the cameras have caught them but people standing at the window overseeing the same area haven’t seen anything. All that being said, they’re kind of regulars when it comes to nightly visits, and I love it!

  1. Raccoons

These fluffy fellas tend to linger the most of anyone who comes by. While the other animals often have places to be and people to see, the raccoons like to take their time sniffing about the same spot in the yard when they pass through. Because of this, they’re also the easiest to see in real-time if we run fast enough to the window the camera sits over. 

  1. Foxes

These guys definitely fall in the extra rare visitors camp, and even when they do come through it’s often very brief. As fun as they are to see, I’d rank them higher if they’d stick around for a few moments longer!

  1. Bunnies

Bunnies are very cute, and I enjoy watching them from a window or a respectable distance, but as far as camera notifications, they’re a little underwhelming. 

  1. Fishers

These are getting a low-ish spot for two reasons – I’m not even sure that we’ve actually seen them, and they lean almost a little too creepy cryptid-like for my comfort. The thing is, raccoons are very disproportional animals with very bizarre little walks, and from certain angles in certain lighting and walking a little faster than normal, can look like fishers. But fishers themselves also have all those qualities, so it can be quite difficult to tell. Limping raccoon? Creeping fisher? Shy cryptid? I can’t in good conscience rate them high if I’m not positive I’ve ever really seen one. But fishers are notorious for their elusiveness and urban myths and ambiguity surrounding them, so that’s just part of their vibe.

  1. People

Sometimes the cameras miscategorize what they’re seeing and will send an “animal seen” notification when it is, in fact, my dad doing yard work, and while I appreciate his labor, I’m always a little disappointed that there’s no actual critter detected.

  1. Bugs

Really, I don’t need to get all excited waking up to a notification about an “animal or movement” in the night just to watch a bunch of tiny bugs flying around the camera, or worse, a spider dangling on a web it has decided to make on the camera. I’m trying to be more chill about spiders and bugs in general, but I can’t say I’m enthusiastic about their presence.

Inès Dupupet is the Editor-in-Chief at Lasell University's Her Campus chapter, overseeing the team of copy editors and keeping track of articles. As a junior at Lasell, studying fashion and history, she hopes to become an archivist or librarian. She loves to write, experiment with fashion, play cozy videogames, and spend time with her cat.