Raccoon - Chicken Predators - How To Protect Your Chickens From Coons

Raccoons (Procyon Lotor) a.k.a. Coons are one of the best known and easily recognised non-domesticated chicken predators.
By BYC Support · Jan 10, 2012 · Updated Jul 9, 2013 · ·
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    General Information

    Raccoons (Procyon Lotor) a.k.a. Coons are one of the best known and easily recognized non-domesticated chicken predators. Due to their adaptability raccoons are able to use urban areas as a habitat. Easily accessible refuse bins, fruit and nut trees and chicken coops are favored sources of food for urban raccoons. Though their preference is fruit and nuts, their diets consist mainly of insects, worms and other animals that are readily available. Unfortunately, that includes chickens.

    Description

    An average specimen of the raccoon is 32 inches long, including the tail, and weighs 11 to 18 pounds. In the Northern part of their range raccoons may weigh as much as 33 pounds. Male raccoons are generally larger than the females. Their fur is relatively long with an overall coloration of grizzled grey to brownish black. The most distinctive features of the raccoon are the black-ringed tail and the blackish coloration on the front of the face, which resembles a bandit's mask.

    Range

    Raccoons are native to North and South America, ranging as far south as northern Argentina and as far north as Southern Canada. The northern limits of their range have been expanding in recent years due to increased agricultural activity in Canada. Raccoons have been introduced in Europe and Asia as well, with Germany hosting the largest population. Raccoon sightings have also been reported in all the countries bordering Germany. Within their range, raccoons prefer to inhabit the lower elevations, avoiding the particularly harsh winter conditions of the high mountains, but in recent years the raccoons have been moving into new habitats which include mountain ranges, prairies, and coastal marshes.

    Method of kill

    A raccoon typically attacks birds by biting the head or upper neck area. The heads of adult birds are usually bitten off and left some distance from the body. The crop and breast may be torn and chewed and the entrails eaten. Raccoons have been known to mutilate poultry in cages by pulling their heads or legs off. Several kills may be made during a single night raid with part of one or more carcasses fed upon. Dead fowl may be at the kill site or dragged several yards away. Raccoons are also serious predators of wild bird populations. Reports indicate that raccoons have been responsible for eliminating local populations of some nesting waterfowl.

    Prevention and treatment

    Raccoon proofing your coop and run is important. Raccoons have nimble fingers and are very intelligent animals who can easily open coop windows and doors to gain access. One method of deterring them is to fit raccoon proof latches to your coop's door and window(s). They can also gain access to the run by digging or tunneling their way in. Placing paving slabs and/or burying wire mesh around the perimeter of the run will help deter them. Hardware cloth is another excellent deterrent. It can be fitted around the run to stop raccoons reaching in and grabbing chickens and should also be fitted over the coop windows. It is recommended that you use large washers and screws to fit hardware cloth to the window frames, as raccoons can rip staples out.

    Will chickens be Safe from raccoons in daylight? Sadly, no. Though raccoons are naturally nocturnal they have adapted to living in urban areas and are getting used to human activity and dogs to the point where they are getting surprisingly bold. Keep this in mind if you are planning on free ranging your flock.

    In addition to ensuring your coop and run is raccoon proof you can also make your property unattractive to raccoons. You can do this by restricting access to waste food and den sites, such as attics and hollow tree trunks. Other methods of deterring them and driving away mothers and their kits, that have proven to be successful, are loud noises, unpleasant odors and flashing lights. Keeping a well trained dog on the property will also help, but a raccoon, when trapped, may get aggressive and attack a dog and some raccoons carry rabies. Raccoons are unlikely to kill dogs and cats, but some cases have been reported.

    Please note: Hunting, killing and trapping raccoons is permitted in most US states and most Canadian provinces, but transporting and relocating raccoons to other areas is often illegal. Please contact your local city, town, or county offices to determine what is and isn’t allowed in your specific area.

    For more discussions on raccoons and how to deal with and deter them see the Predators and Pests section of the forum.


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Recent User Reviews

  1. JedJackson
    "Great information"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 27, 2018
    Raccoons are one of the toughest chicken predators to deal with. This article has good details about most of the problems they cause, and how to prevent them. Everyone who keeps chickens in raccoon country would do well to read this article, and to follow the advice in it.
    Maria's Chickens likes this.
  2. ronott1
    "Excellant article!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 7, 2018
    Well Written article about raccoons and poutry
    Maria's Chickens likes this.
  3. mrs_organized_chaos
    "Good general info"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jul 26, 2018
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Comments

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  1. joer77
    I have had a awful season for predators this year. I live on a 1/2 acre city farm in Dayton Ohio. I have caught over 30 raccoons, 7 possums, 2 skunks and have had 3 birds of prey attacks! This is in the city! I have lose over 40 bird this year! I down to 8 birds now. My coops have locks on all doors and windows but they have managed to find away in. Once they rip the door off its hinges My problem is from all the empty blight house in my area of the city. The perfect homes for predators. I now have flashing red string lights all around my coops at different height levels and a radio that plays music outside my coops overnight. I almost wanted to stop keeping bird at all this year.
    1. Rural-urbanite
      Aw man :-( im so sorry! That’s horrible! I hate to see hopelessness and despair. I too live basically AMONGST the raccoon (used to love em, can’t believe I ever did. My conservationist mind struggles with it, but, no yeah, they seem to have evolved like the wolf to the dog...I really don’t like how comfortable and ZERO AFRAID they are of humans) anyway. Have you read a bunch on coop reinforcements? It really is an arms race with raccoons but eventually you the human WILL prevail. Ripping a locked door off of its hinges sounds like the coop REALLY has room for improvement. Also, a creative and hugely innovative product they sell, it might still be available at mypetchicken.com or Meyer hatchery, is wolf urine and bob urine. It comes with containers to put the pee in, and zip ties to put the all around the coop, it comes with a packet that explains exactly how to use, where to place it for best defense, it’s cool. We used bobcat, I wish we had just gone with wolf but afraid it would attract wolves. I’m not sure the urine WOULDNT do that so don’t want to promote the wrong idea. BUT, forget the pee for now, the coop sounds like it’s in real need of some upgrade. Best wishes!
  2. LeeAnn Toler
    I have a raccoon problem and I was wanting to know if the Guard Night light works. I have 5 chickens now and they run free in the yard but when the chickens are out in the yard, the raccoon goes in there house and eats the food. The raccoon tries to get in there house at night but I think the chickens are safe. I found where the raccoon was digging a hole at there house yesterday and I had to fix that. Please I need help. I don't have a trap to trap him. I don't know what to do and I really care about the 5 chickens that I do have.
    1. Rural-urbanite
      You HAVE to go purchase a trap. Or get one online! If it really is so worth it to you. You do know what to do because you wrote it in your comment “I don’t have a trap and I don’t know what to do” (I say this in an encouraging, trust yourself, you are competent and capable way) If you can’t afford a trap right now, your local animal control, or wildlife department will lend you theirs; they come to your house, they give you a trap, show you how to use it and other advice, and then you call them when the animal is caught and they come to get it as soon as they can (in the day, don’t call at 3am) Put a towel or blanket or tarp over the caught raccoon so it feels safe, never ever touch the animal. It is all free and they release the animal a specific distance from your area. Also, a weird tidbit of inside knowledge from the wildlife department; the best bait to live trap a raccoon, weirdly, is marshmallows. Freaking marshmallows! My wussy self is worried about the choking hazaard, lol, I mean I guess you could fashion it in some way, or use something besides marshmallows; but this theory has been put to the test and it’s legit! And if you have chickens against your municipal code, at least for me the local agency could not have cared less, but if you’re worried about that, call a private pest control place, which, out of all of the options is probably the most expensive, but you could most likely find one that is within your price range. Best of luck! Go get ‘em!
  3. Pecked2Death
    I had an attack in my run today. The run was open as the chickens free range, but there were a pile of feathers against the fence (no blood) and then more feathers outside the run, some more about 40 feet away, and finally we found the body in the next horse pasture. It was my only Copper Maran - but I found not copper feathers from around her neck! I only knew it was her because of the feathered feet. The intestines were out and away from the body - but the body cavity was not eatten. The head and everything down to the shoulders was gone and we could not find blood anywhere, following the feather trail. The other hens may have been out of the run, in the coop, I don't know. I only know that she was the only one taken. Does anyone have any idea what type of animal would have taken only one hen and done this? I could not find any photos on the internet to compare my babies body with. Next time I am taking photos - so others can compare - or experts can say what they think I am trying to stop.
    Everyone is being locked up at night again now.
  4. chicki-vicki
    well chickitup im thinking of using guiennes - Ive been told there great guards like mitus & dolly - and they are far more gentle in your veggie garden going after the bugs - and I like the sticky plant idea too - and if I can get my land secured enough I would like to havve a min donkey, they have a natural afinity for cayotes of which we have more than a few. The minnie part worries me - wondering can the hold theire own are will I need a full size donkey -- more reserch - there sure is a lot to this family yard chicken raising - but I am determined
    1. Butterscotchbitesfinger
      That is not true about the Guinea fowl
      I am afraid to say
      I had the same thought then a friend got some and foxes and raccoons got them sadly
  5. chickitup
    Our chicken yard is large, so we have a Guard Llama, and a Mini horse who scream the alarms, and run around like crazy, when anything gets remotely close to the fence. We hear lots of strage sounds at night, but going on 3 yrs without loosing a chicken (not bad), keep up the good work "Mitus & Dolly":)
      lajobes likes this.
  6. Sabrina 42
    What is the Night Guard? Raccoons are a real problem here, there is one out in our yard right now, mid morning, We lost 2 hens last month to a raccoon, I was lucky enough to catch it in the act or i may have lost more.
      LeeAnn Toler likes this.
    1. LeeAnn Toler
      Yes I keep loosing chickens too because of raccoons and I was wondering if that light works too
  7. kentuckyblue
    i lost 9 in one night,i know people will say its wrong but i trap and kill every coon i catch,i cut limbs off of a hedge apple tree it has thorns on it 3 inches long and put them around the out side of the run.the first time they get stuck by one they find some place else to look for a meal
  8. Troy6671
    Raccoons are horrible. When we made our chicken house, we took extra care to ensure nothing can get in. For the outside run we berried the wire in the ground and fenced over the top of the run. There are lots of critters here in Michigan and they LOVE a fresh chicken dinner. So lots of extra precautions are necessary.
      Mike Theiss likes this.
  9. bantiebabe1200
    I really don't like coons either! I lost sixteen chickens in one night to a couple of those buggers a few years back. I've never had much love for them since.
  10. dominiques
    Have you tried the Night Guard?
      LeeAnn Toler likes this.
    1. LeeAnn Toler
      I was wondering if that works because we have raccoons bad here in WV and they have killed a bunch of my chickens.
  11. AngryRooster
    raccoon's I hats them. I have them in my yard at night and I can hear them bashing the doorway to my coop
  12. gwnorris
    Thank you! :)
  13. PeepsAreForMe
    Check out the Predators and Pests forum under Raising Backyard Chickens - very very helpful.

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