Raccoons - the unwelcome visitor

jillmcm(z6 PA)April 20, 2004

Just need to grumble a bit - got my whiskey barrel pond out and looking beautiful, put the shubunkin back in that overwintered inside with us, and went out this morning to find one dying on the ground - DESPITE the cover over the pond. Also found the suet feeders with the hook pulled out and dragged halfway down the driveway, a huge hole dug under the birdfeeders, and the wildlife feeder emptied. It's not like there wasn't food out and available, since I know the buggers are going to visit the yard no matter what I do. I had hoped that by offering an easier source a bit farther away, I might cut down on the playing in the pond and trashing the bird feeders activity. Argh!

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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi Jill,
Is your fish going to make it? I can soooo relate to your coon problems. In fact, I quit feeding the wild birds after I got chickens, in order to not encourage the coons. I have a pole and coon baffle for my feeders, but they would still come and collect all the fallen seed every night.......then they would find everything else in my yard. We put up a fence around the whole yard, but they climb right over it. I was thinking about an electric wire at the top........
I have a little watergarden, and have 3' chicken wire around the whole thing. It's sooooooo ugly, but it's the only way I can have a watergarden. We've kept our only surviving goldfish inside for years, because of stray cats and coons. Even when the watergarden didn't have fish in it, the coons (and maybe the oppossums) would pull all the waterplants out of it and eat them.. So.........chicken wire it is. As it turns out, the chicken wire also protects the frogs from my dog.
What kind of cover did you have on the barrel? I used to have a barrel too, and had to put a chicken wire fence around it, a few feet out. I've been thinking there's probably a more aestethically pleasing way to put a fence up around a watergarden, but you want to be able to see through it.....so something like a picket fence is out......plus the coons could climb that. On the pond forum, some people use a single strand of electric wire around their ponds too. Just get a very low voltage one, and it won't hurt any animals. If you ever check the pond forum out, you know that coons aren't a favorite pet over there! My brother used to use a motion-detector sprayer, which worked fairly well.
I'm so sorry about your shubunkin!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2004 at 8:30AM
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John_D(USDA 8b WA)

I've given up on fish so I can enjoy the raccoons.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2004 at 11:23AM
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Unless the fish is injured, it's amazing how well they recover after being out of water. I've read stories over at the pond forum of partially dried fish recovering! Hope your Shubunkin made it.......they're my favorite!

With my previous pond, I successfully used bird netting to keep out the raccoons. They didn't like taking the chance of becoming entangled in it and never bothered my pond when it was in place.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2004 at 12:55PM
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euka(ottawa (zone 4))

we have a couple of regular racoon visitors, one that helps himself to pretty much anything he likes.. hes HUGE.. peeled my peanut feeder like a banana, emptys the hopper feeders, opens up my compost bucket and has a drink from the neighbours hose. I dare not put out beer traps for snails and slugs or between the squirrels and racoons I'll have a drunken brawl on my deck!

sorry about your fishy.. I got pretty fond of some myself, it's a shame.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2004 at 5:45PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

euka.......sounds like you have a pretty nice buffet there! ;)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2004 at 6:05PM
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Get yourself one of those save a heart traps start catching them.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2004 at 1:59PM
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euka(ottawa (zone 4))

Catherine .. yah, maybe I should just go ahead, put out the beer and maybe some napkins, but then again, it's the playoffs and the neighbors might come:) Hubby says I should stop putting ANY food out but I just can't help myself...

Bulldinkie I've already relocated a couple dozen chipmunks with a havaheart trap.. if I start driving around with racoons, my husband will put me into therapy! (besides, that one is REALLY big!, I think he could take me!)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2004 at 5:23PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

Well, the shubby didn't make it, so we picked up some feeder goldfish today and put last year's (ugly) cage back up, since it apparently worked better than my new one. I don't see the point in trapping the critters - remove one, another one will just move into the territory - it would be a neverending process. It's my job to figure out how to coexist despite the annoying tendencies of the unwelcome visitors...so icky rabbit wire fencing is back up and the dogs get let out whenever they bark at night.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2004 at 7:44PM
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FurryCritterFan(5a WI)

Will coyote or fox urine (from places like Gander Mountain) work on repelling coons?

My husband enjoyed seeing these critters in our yard, but I had an opposing opinion and have since made it a point to remove all hanging bird feeders and suet blocks at night. Good luck w/trapping them! Be careful so you don't get bit or step in their scat.

Euka: I'll take a dozen chipmunks from ya!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2004 at 11:53PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Sorry the little guy didn't make it. I just can't stand losing things, so that makes the chicken wire fence a little less ugly! Chicken wire has become just as important to me as duct tape! I use it to protect my garden, to wrap around trees in the yard to protect from bunnies and deer and around trees down by the creek to protect from beavers. Chicken wire is my friend. ;)
Good luck with your new goldfish.
P.S. I had a cat or a coon get one of my goldfish a few years ago, but it missed the black goldfish. Maybe you should try to stick with more cammoflouged fish??

    Bookmark   April 22, 2004 at 10:38AM
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lynn_d(Z5 PA)

The electric or Fido Fences work well at protecting the fish and keeping the coons at bay. I've also used the scarecrow water cannon and it worked, but I was constantly apologizing to friends when I forgot to turn it off as we approached the pond. About the third time our priest got nailed with it I took it down.

We have 2 ponds, one is a water garden that has only frogs and plants, the other is the koi pond which was designed with coon-proofing in mind. Five feet deep, straight down. In addition I have 3 halfbarrel lotus or lily pots, a 300 gallon stock tank with plants and koi fry (if I have them), and a small preformed pond with a water lily. In the course of a year I see evidence that the coons bother the watergarden only once or twice, they usually drink from the pool. I have more trouble with the groundhod that has developed a taste for water lily buds.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2004 at 3:16PM
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euka(ottawa (zone 4))

furrycritterfan.. I'll purolate them to you as soon as they start comming back :)

Actually, I really like the little guys, they can become really tame, we used to feed them by hand and have them sit on our shoulder when I was a kid,. but here in my very small yard, they are quite distructive so I find I have to remove them

    Bookmark   April 23, 2004 at 6:23PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I have one of these plastic 'patio ponds' that is about 14 inches deep and about three feet accross. I have it in my shrub boarder as a source of water for the birds and animals. The first year I had it I put in nice goldfish which the racoons ate in three nights. Now I just put in feeder goldfish from the pet shop. They eat the mosquito larve and are too small for the racoons to catch. Still, they must try as I see them out fishing and swimming in the pond most nights (I can see the pond from my bedroom window and hear them crashing around there and sometimes get up and look).

    Bookmark   June 20, 2004 at 5:57PM
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marilyn_c(z9 Tex.coast)

I don't think anyone around has more waterlilies than I do.
I have more than most watergarden nurseries. I also have more raccoons than just about anyone else will see in one place at one time. I have seen as many as 60 here at one time. I have never lost a waterlily or fish to a raccoon.
The reason is, I feed the raccoons. If I didn't feed them,
due to the area that I live in being out in the country, on a bayou, in the woods, near a marsh...I would not be able to have them leave my ponds/tanks, etc. alone. I used to buy the food, but now it is furnished by the local rehabber's assn. Target, Walmart, Petsmart and other places donate the food. It arrives to our distribution point about 3 times a week. The rehabbers here do not frown on feeding wildlife. We take so much from them, that it is only fair, I believe, to give a little back. If I only had a couple of ponds...I would put out some dog food, table scraps at a point as far from the pond as possible. Provide dishes of water.

I know most people have nothing but the best intentions on trapping and releasing raccoons. In some places, it is against the law. But, the saddest part is that raccoons do not take to relocation very well, and to do it, isn't a kindness but is cruel. Most shelters and animal control facilities will euthanize them. I think it is best to try to live with the wild animals around us. I know not everyone shares my viewpoint on this, but I wish more people would try.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 2:57PM
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Marilyn C, I share your sentiments totally. I moved to the woods many years ago after living in town all my life. It took some adjusting, but I felt I had moved into their home so it was only right that I try to live with them without upsetting their home too much. I knew they would be foraging around at night, so I didn't attempt things that were too much of a temptation to them. I found that feeding and viewing the local residents gave me as much pleasure as adding things that weren't natural to the area. I realize that there are many city coons and other critters now that make having water gardens and bird feeders a chore or nearly impossible. I can sympathize with such problems, however many of these problems have come about because of the urban sprawl into wild animals natural habitat. Certainly it isn't the fault of a homeowner who bought a home but rather the fault of those who develop farther and farther from the city centers while encroaching upon ever diminishing woods and natural cover. Wish I had an answer which would be in the best interest of animal and human alike.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 11:45PM
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Get someone to put up electric fence easily done with one wire about 8" off the ground.I would rather have pond any day than raccoons up at my house.around here theyre no.1 for carrying rabies.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 12:24PM
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marilyn_c(z9 Tex.coast)

Rabies is almost unheard of in raccoons in this area.

Where I live, there were so many raccoons...not quite so many now as when I first bought the place, because land is selling around me and not as much habitat, but if I didn't feed the raccoons, I would have no peace. It would be a constant fight. But, I moved here for the peace and quiet, and too, I have gotten to know some of those raccoons...like my girls, Audrey and Abby, that still come home every night. I guess it is different if you love raccoons.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 7:41PM
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FurryCritterFan(5a WI)

This past week when I stopped at the wildlife center, a staff person was discussing her woes w/coons. Her property butts up against a county park and she does feed raccoons further out in the woods. Dog food, I believe. But she's becoming more upset because they get into her feeders around the house and make a mess. So even after laying out and providing a dog food buffet, they come up to her screens and do damage. Take down the feeders she leaves out for flying squirrels and the stuff is trashed or dragged yards away. Another property owner at a release site I checked out said "no more coons." They are multiplying beyond control. And they have a potato/vegetable warehouse which the coons enter and wreak disaster in.

Just be careful of distemper, rabies, and roundworm. Those are things I don't won't my family subjected to. I agree that it's best to live harmoniously with the wildlife around you. If needed, remove things that detract their presence -- 'cause no critter will turn down a free meal of cake and ice cream if they can get to it.

As I mentioned before, my hubby used to feed coons at nite on our deck but after I learned about their diseases I am less willing to invite them over.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 11:17PM
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Feed them and they're trained for life to come to houses for food. Not just yours but other houses where they may not be welcome at all. Some people around here shoot them because of the damage they do or trap them for the fur. They're better off if you don't encourage them. And your yard will be better off. I once fed them, but never again! And if you're going to trap and release, do it in the fall, when any offspring they may have will at least be a bit older.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 12:34AM
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tialisa(z5a IL)

A coon just trashed my container pond last night. It shredded the water hyacinth, but I had two shubunkin and they both made it! Phew! I have ladder-stacked bricks in there, so I'm sure they hid well.

Half my water was gone too - how bizarre? It also broke half of my plants. You should see the paw prints around the container. This coon weighs 40lbs, and the neighbor that feeds them is the most hated person in the neighborhood. They fight at night sometimes too.

Do you think it will be back, since it did not get the fish and the water hyacinth has been removed???

    Bookmark   June 30, 2004 at 6:18PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

Tialisa - bet you anything it comes back repeatedly. The only option is to protect the pond with some kind of cover if you want the plants to survive - and I'm willing to bet that the 'coon will eventually get the fish if it takes it weeks. I made a circle of rabbit wire to go around my whiskey barrel pond, with wire mesh over the top as well. I made it big enough that reaching paws can't touch the barrel from outside. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2004 at 7:00PM
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JimDC(z7 DC)

I live in the city, but hike and backpack often and really enjoy all types of wildlife. Thus, when a very large raccoon and her three pups started visiting (although my wife and I live in the city, we have a single family home with a fairly large yard), I was fine with it. My wife and I simply made sure to get the cat inside the house before dark and to cover the garbage cans (other than throwing some seed down for the birds and squirrels in the winter, I tend not to feed wild animals). However, one late afternoon, the four raccoons decided to attack our cat (much earlier that we would normally drag the cat inside for the evening). After fighting them off (they did not run away when I entered the fray), I got to enjoy a series of rabies shots over the course of a month. Because rabies is such a big problem in my area, I'm no longer as thrilled about the local raccoon population.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 3:25PM
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That is so strange! The coons won't normally attack cats unless provoked, at least that's the way it is here. I have cats and coons live in the area. On occasion, one of my cats will decide to attack a coon if it tries to get in the cat door. Not a good thing to do, because most coons are bigger than a cat. But normally, they have an understanding between the two species and the cats don't mess with the coons (and vice versa). I do bring the cats in at night (there's animals out there more dangerous than the coons) and close the cat door.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2004 at 7:57PM
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Jonesy(z6 midwest)

Jim, sorry you had to go through the treatments, thank you for telling us about it. It is a good warning for all of us.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2004 at 11:35PM
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I do think you all may want to think about feeding wild animals artificially. It artificially increases their populations, leaving them to starve in lean years, spreads disease and makes them easy prey as it congregates them into one area. I know it sounds like a great idea to keep them away from something else or to "tame" them. As you can see, it is not fair to the animal as they will never simply stick to the things you want them to eat. Also it makes them less leery of humans and easy prey to the people that are less humane. Please do some research online before you decide it is a good idea.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2004 at 7:09AM
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JimDC(z7 DC)

Thanks. Good points. Yes, my understanding is that raccoons do not normally attack unless provoked and cats rarely provoke a raccoon (which is usually much larger than a cat). Moreover, our cat, which is more of an indoor than outdoor cat, is particularly shy and small (she never goes more than 20 feet from the door and is not aggressive to other animals). It is possible that the mother raccoon was simply more aggressive than normal because she had her pups with her. It also is possible that she might have had rabies (she was extremely aggressive and out during the day). Again, she attacked me when I tried to save the cat and I had to fight her and the pups off (pretty pugnacious raccoons given that I'm 6' 2" and 200 lbs). Our cat was in pretty bad shape but she survived. We have not seen the mom or her pups since. We have tons of wonderful birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and even an occasional fox (I know, that's nothing compared to most places, but it's pretty good for us city folk). Other than some seed in the dead of winter for the birds and squirrels, we do not feed wild animals (although the birds and various animals do eat from our gardens). I guess the moral of the story is to be somewhat cautious about approaching certain animals in areas where rabies is a problem (especially if you have small children or small pets and the animal is acting strange). The raccoon encounter, however, has not in any way dampened my enthusiasm for all types of wildlife.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2004 at 11:24AM
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I just posted about my raccoon in the compost experience on the soil, compost form! I'm still a bit stunned by it!


Here is a link that might be useful: Compost Mystery

    Bookmark   July 15, 2004 at 8:35AM
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terryr(z5a IL)

I read something in the paper that I still don't know if it's true or not. I was always told that coons were nocturnal. The article, however, said that coons just prefer to eat when they won't be disturbed by humans. They will eat in the day time if they're hungry. Does anyone know if this is true or not?


    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 12:16PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

It just seems to me that there are SOOOOOO many more Racoons here this year than normal. Multiple family groups visit here each night. One has three babies, one four and the last has five little ones. The babies get into everything. I guess thats how they learn what is good to eat and not. But I can't figgure what will happen to them as they grow up. I mean, where will they live? The area is already overpopulated with racoons.

Late this Spring my neightbor took down two very large old Oak trees on her property. They had many hollows which were homes to birds, squirrels and racoons. So there was an immediate housing shortage after that. Next day I saw racoons sitting on the branches of another Oak tree she has on her property next to the ones taken down. I guess they had no where else to go.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2004 at 2:07PM
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Theres at least three more things you can do.
One call animal comtrol to remove the racoons,two get a coon dog.(special breed for coon hunting small dogs can become badly injured when fighting coons some have died.)Or three you can shoot the big coons. Put locks on garbage cans and put very bad tasting food in them. Racoons are very very smart. So try to out smart them.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2004 at 9:37AM
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Raccoons are one of the few successful animals. They're successful because they thrive in suburbs. They are, in this way, like rats or cockroaches--or like squirrels and bluejays, to use kinder comparisons. They would not do nearly so well without people. If we wanted to live in a really "natural" environment--a less human influenced environment--we'd have to live with animals that eat raccoons and keep their populations in check. Trouble is, those sorts of animals--such as alligators, down here--can be dangerous to people too. I don't think letting the raccoons do their thing makes our environment any more natural. If anything, in my yard, the raccoons are making it less natural because they dig up the plants and foul the birdbaths which I've put in to encourage more diversity of birds and insects. That said, I don't know what to do about the raccoons. In more rural areas, I think the raccoon hunting season is a good thing. But that doesn't help suburban/urban areas. Maybe coonskin hats or coats will make a comeback. It would be an environmental way to wear fur.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2004 at 9:00AM
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htown(North Houston)

I have two ponds with koi and goldfish and tons of raccoons. No chickern wire or electric fence. I have only lost one fish, a chain pickerel, and I believe that he probably just jumped out. I see the raccoons go into the ponds on occasion, but they do not bother anything. I have small plastic ponds only about 200 gallons a piece, one has real steep sides, and both have cinder blocks submerged for fish to hide in. One time I had a plastic snake taken by the coons.

The only times the raccoons bother me is when they are jumping on the roof at 3 am. I have never seen the raccoons dig up anything either, but the squirels on the other hand.....

    Bookmark   October 8, 2004 at 11:35AM
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htown(North Houston)

Yes, raccoons can be active during the day and not be sick. In the woods they are more active during the day than in urban places. In the city and suburbs they are nocturnal to avoid people. I saw a video of a giant raccoon that preyed on a rabbit during the day.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2004 at 11:54AM
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I just wanted to add that we had the strangest thing happen to us. After living in this house for 5+ years, and having coons visiting a few times each summer (coyote urine worked somewhat to scare them), they decided to take toilet camp under our back porch. The area was full of the stuff, stinky as feces can be stinky. We cleaned and two weeks later, the stuff had been replenished. So I made a search for "raccoon toilet" and found out that raccoons decide on a place to do their business together. Lucky us. We had to block the area with lattice and put sticks up in the surrounding area because they would still come and poop around. They finally gave up. I think. I hope.
We do not have birdfeeders but planted berry bushes for the birds. Birds also come to feed on flower seedpods, which the coons seem to ignore. Our fish and water lilies do well under a protective net after all these years in our steep walled pond, but I wasn't able to get any of the lotus plants to thrive: they ate them right away, stems and everything.. and I had grown them from seed... so sad.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2005 at 10:43AM
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raccons got into my attic and went to work on the electircal. i am now down to 3 circuits to the kitchen, this computer, and the bedroom and bath. decided to open the cooncafe on top on the cat kennel near the trees where they climb up to the top of the fence. dog house from sam's club and 50 lbs of dog food inside. big hit. all the animals now come to the cooncafe. open for business from sundown to sunrise. takes 3 days to consume 50 lbs. but so far it cut down on the unwanted electricians.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 8:22PM
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I have seen a huge raccoon ambling casually across a residential street in daylight.

I have seen a raccoon stalking a kitten on a fence in daylight.

They always left my vegetable garden alone but would pull the plug out of the birdbath (a converted sink) night after night. Our backyard was on a regular route for them and we'd hear and see a whole troop, all ages, jumping over the gate at night.

One romantic night I heard a sound from the trees that I supposed was two raccoons mating: "squeek-snort, squeek-snort, squeek-snort."

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 10:14PM
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the4dman(z6 Pa.)

Always lived in the city. When we moved to the suburbs four years ago the first night it seemed so quiet, I had trouble getting to sleep. Then we were all awakened by this horible scretching and growling. Scared the hell out of everybody. It was just the coons doing whatever they do, and we're used to it now, but what a sound.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 9:37PM
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That sound, it's both unmistakeable and indescribable!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 2:13PM
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John_D(USDA 8b WA)

I've had a raccoon sleep on my deck every day for the last week. She's a real sweetie.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 12:01AM
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Looks like she hasn't a care in the world.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 9:30AM
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htown(North Houston)

Racoons Rock!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 8:41PM
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Jean_the_Queen(Zone 6, midTenn)

You know, this is a really funny thread, if unintentionally.

My coons will mow any moisture-containing plant down to the ground in one night. Their particular favorites are portulacas; they've eaten so many I figure I may as well just start leaving them salad out in the driveway or something.

Are those big long raccoon baffles effective? I have two bluebird nests with eggs, and having lost a couple fledglings to either a coon or a cat last month I REALLY want them out of those nests. I have 36" long baffles on both houses, which are mounted on slippery poles. I think my only alternative is sitting on the back porch all night with a rifle loaded with rock salt!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 6:16PM
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Kristy_SC(coastal SC)

Jean the queen - are you talking about the metal collar like things around the pole? They do work pretty well, against snakes too which could also be your culprit. Good luck with the babies this go round!

It's funny so many people having trouble with coons when we live in the middle of woods and raise/release about a dozen a year and never get bothered. I guess there's too much other good stuff in their natural habitat to mess with our tiny yard.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 6:26PM
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Please folks, don't be naive and lose a precious pet to a raccoon.

I live in very urban Sherman Oaks, CA, but have a huge yard with trees and grapevines bursting with delicious fruit. Raccoons come in summer and decimate the fruit. Recently, raccoons brutally killed 2 cats in 2 weeks. They disembowel and eat the intestines while the cat is still alive. It's unbelieveably horrible.

One cat was a feral I've been feeding for a year, and the other was a beloved pet I raised from a kitten. I used to let him out sometimes during the day to commune with nature, but thought I was keeping him safe by bringing him in before dark with my other 4 cats. Some evenings, cat is playful and won't want to come in right away. That night I left for a few hrs. to deal with a med emergency...

I don't when the cat was killed, but it was traumatic to discover him mauled. In reading the internet, it seems raccoons can be active in the daytime, too, especially if they are hungry or rabid. I did not know that. I will never let my cats out of the house again. I would never put them in danger of such a truly brutal death.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 11:49PM
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