It was mentioned here recently that, even in urban areas such as ours, wild animals get into garbage cans and scatter their contents over a wide area. wSeveral readers have offered interesting comments.

Jean Harris reported that for a long time her trash can was raided regularly by raccoons.

"When we heard them," she wrote, "we'd open the window and yell at them, and we'd even throw things at them, but they'd just stand there on their hind legs and look up at us for a while. Then they would go back to pulling things out of the can.

"My husband finally found a perfect solution. He poured a little cleaning fluid (Varsol) into the can. The raccoons don't like the smell. We haven't been bothered since."

A Silver Spring man wrote, "I'm surprised you didn't say anything about dogs. Dogs are not supposed to be permitted to run loose inMontgomery County, but several huge ones have been knocking over our garbage can and leaving us with the unpleasant task of cleaning up after them.

"Several times I have been almost furious enough to shoot them, but I just can't bring myself to kill a dog for doing what comes naturally to it. Don't the owners of these animals know what the law requires of them, or don't they care?"

Having experienced similar frustration because of a large dog that roamed our neighborhood for years, I can sympathize with that complaint.

The dog kept getting larger and fatter. Then one day we noticed that he wasn't coming around any more. We still don't know why. If that dog has died, I'd be willing to bet that the vet listed obesity as the cause of death.

J. P. Hamer of Rockville commented, "Trash can raids invariably end with the can tipped over. An animal obviously cannot raise the lid while sitting on it." The remedy, therefore, is to make it difficult or impossible for an animal to tip over the can.

"Place a rail around it so that the can can be lifted out but not tipped over," Hamer suggested. "Or implant stakes at opposite sides."

It can also be noted that a ready-made base large enough to accommodate two cans to be bought in hardware stores. The "trash can holder" is made of metal and has sides that appear to be about 20 inches high -- just high enough to prevent tipping.

Being an incurable copy editor, I must suggest that one word in District Liner Hamer's letter should be changed. Trash can raids may usually end with the can tipped over, but I have been the victim of many raids that did not.

Dogs tip over cans, and other animals may also use this technique. But I know at least one raccoon that does not. The one that favors us with his business doesn't do it that way.

With the can upright, he removes the springs that hold the lid in place, and then he removes the lid. I grab a broom and go roaring out after him, but my raccoon never loses his cool. He retreats a few feet -- just far enough to remain out of reach of the broom -- and then he sits there with a defiant look on his face that says, "What's with you, big shot? Why are you making so much fuss? I know that's a broom, not a gun, so why don't you just go inside and wait until I finish? You can have what's left. Then you can use that stupid broom to sweep up the leavings."

If my report gives you the impression he is a cute little fellow who would make a fine pet for you, be my guest. You can have him, free. Just come and get him. WAIT FOR WEBSTER IV

Harry J. Maginnis asks, "What, exactly, is an ayatollah? None of my dictionaries contains the word. Is it a title, like bishop, or elder, or monsignor?"

I thing that's right, Harry, I am told "ayatollah" is a religious title or rank, but I have found no confirmation of this in a dictionary or in any other reference book -- not even in the unabridged Merriam-Webster Third International.

I dare say that when new editions of the major dictionaries appear, we will find that the lexicographers have taken note of this new word in our vocabularies. CRITIC

Bob Orben' views on the Chrysler crsis:

"Chrysler is losing so much money that it needs $3 billion in loans so that it can operate at a profit. This explains why the government is involved. Only Congress can understand that kind of logic.

"I keep having this marvelous dream that Chrysler will merge with the Department of Energy, and within three months there won't be enough Chryslers to go around."

Bob also has a Thanksgiving note for us: He says his butcher is featuring a Jane Fonda-Jerry Brown turkey this year. "Its has two left wings but can't get off the ground."