While they may be cute and fun to watch, raccoons can eat up a vegetable garden, make a mess of your trash, upset household pets and even give you rabies with 41% of diagnosed cases in the US existing in raccoons. They can also nest under houses and get into other spaces that might be inconvenient and potentially costly. The following tips will help you keep raccoons away and better understand how they think and live.
Raccoons are omnivorous meaning they eat plants and animals, just like people. They have opposable thumbs and are very adept at using their paws, again, just like people. They are nocturnal which means they are most active at night and they are related to weasels and bears. Raccoons can be identified by the black and white rings on their tales and the hunched over way that they walk (due to having longer hind legs than arms). They have strong sharp minds and are fast learners with a proven memory span of over three years!
Since raccoons are so smart and nimble, they aren’t deterred the way birds and other animals are. You may find that motion activated floodlights, streamers, scarecrows and even latches and string won’t do the trick. Raccoons are smart enough to learn that if a light or scarecrow doesn’t create any proven danger, it isn’t to be feared and they will ignore it.
- to protect gardens and other outdoor areas from raccoons, install a small electric fence with two wires at 6″ and a foot off the ground, keep the wires active from sunset to sunrise or whenever raccoons are present
- to prevent raccoons from nesting in attics, chimney openings and below your house staple half inch mesh hardware cloth or chicken wire over potential entrances and make sure you aren’t trapping any inside!
- to capture and humanely remove existing raccoons, use a cage baited with a bit of meat, cheese, nuts, cat or dog food or sweet corn (an all time favorite) then take the animal or animals several miles outside of town and release, consider covering the cage with dark cloth to calm the animal during transport
Since raccoons usually only spend a few days at each den, they should stay away once you remove them. Their range in a city environment is usually limited to a mile or so but can reach upwards of six square miles in the country. Nesting female raccoons may occupy a den for a month or longer and that’s where removal may be necessary, ideally before birthing begins. Consider consulting a local expert for help.
As stated above, raccoons have adapted to live in both country and city environments and occupy woodland, marshes and plains from southern Canada all the way to South America reaching both coasts. Raccoons also live across mainland Europe and parts of Japan but are much less prevalent there. Since raccoons have lived in close proximity to humans for hundreds of years there are dozens of names for them across many cultural groups including shiuaa which means painted one in the Hopi Native American language.