fighting raccoons

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by cream puff, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. cream puff

    cream puff Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2014
    I've been having a HELL of a time with raccoons. I thought it was just one raccoon coming for fresh chicken, guinea fowl, and duck dinner every night but now I know it's not the case. We set a trap outside the last three nights in a row and caught a different raccoon each night. We'll set it again tonight and see what happens. I've never seen such a relentless predator as a raccoon, except maybe SATAN!!!

    How do you deal with your raccoons? I've tried everything and the best thing I've come up with so far is coops on stilts 4 feet off the ground - chest level. I'm trying to teach my chickens to fly in but for now we're using a ladder that we take down every night.

    The Coop is high and shallow and they only roost in it at night, it's well ventilated and I can reach to the back wall to remove any chicken I need to cull for whatever reason. I never have to be inside the coop and I'm attaching the nesting boxes under the floor (the chickens are too young to need them at present). Cleaning is easy too. I can even use it as a brooder with a heating pad cave and the chicks learn to go up and down the ladder early. And the best part is the raccoons can't climb it. HAHA!!! A bear could eat them like chips but we don't have bear where we are. Everything is sealed to prevent rats and mink, but I doubt mink could climb it anyway, cats could but they can't get inside. I've built my prototype and used it for a few weeks to fine tune it and adjust any mistakes and we're building the larger size coops this weekend.

    Tell me what you've learned to keep your birds safe, specifically from raccoons.
    Brahma Chicken5000 likes this.
  2. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Raccoons are creatures of habit. They will walk the same trails night after night, creating raccoon highways. Find the trail the raccoons are using, and follow back to where they are coming.

    At certain points along the trail you will find pinch points, places where the animals are forced into a specific pathway, this is a perfect location for a snare set.

    Gang set the trail...make sets with cage traps, or if your state allows, I'd go strait to conibear bucket sets....if you have raccoons like you described, you'll have full sets for a few nights and then it will taper off.

    Course if these raccoons have a real nice den, it won't be long before another family moves in and it starts over again.

    Raccoons are easy to trap, until they become educated about traps...then they become very cautious and much harder to entice.
  3. billygoat162

    billygoat162 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2016
    American Southwest
    My coop is protected by wood and hardware cloth on all sides (including the bottom) and has an automatic door with a light sensor so it doesn't need any adjustment. The automatic door might sound like a pain, but it really was pretty simple and cost less than $100 to make. It's important to use a decent linear actuator with brackets (about $60 online, don't use a power antenna, even if it's strong enough to close the door it won't hold it shut against a raccoon).

    The automatic door really is my key to success (I've seen more than a few obese raccoons trying to get in after dark before giving up and stealing the neighbor's cat food). Currently it runs off house power and a DC adapter, but I'm planning to install a solar panel and car battery soon, which would honestly be easier than dealing with house power and converters.

    When I was a kid though, my parents would surround whatever the raccoons were trying to get into with 15-20 unbated mousetraps and pick them back up in the morning before any of our animals were awake (very important, a mousetrap could break a chicken's feet). Our cats always stepped around them if they hunted at night, but the raccoons were clumsy and would usually set off all the traps at once. When they did that, we wouldn't see them again for a couple years. Raccoons are smart enough to learn their lesson for at least a little while. I'm not sure how humane or safe this technique is though [​IMG].
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
  4. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chicken Obsessed

    Raccoon are crafty buggers! Wish I had more info to offer. I haven't yet dealt with them on my property, maybe because I have dogs. But I am learning all I can.

    Sorry for any losses you've had. I presume if you have the ability to cull a chicken that you are eliminating the coons as you catch them? Sorry for asking, but how do you dispose of them? (For my learning purposes)

    Have you had any escape your trap?

    I see you have gotten some good suggestions from people with more experience than me. [​IMG]

    Good luck!
    Brahma Chicken5000 likes this.
  5. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    This is a great post.
  6. cream puff

    cream puff Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2014
    I've seen those pathways, they lead right up a big fir tree in the front yard. Do they have dens in trees? How do I find and destroy the den?

    When I had my LGD there were no problems, I think it's time for me to get another one...
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
  7. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Raccoons love to den in old hollow trees...perfect place for them.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I generally use dogs and always have traps out. Fencing, electrified is surprisingly effective, especially when using poultry netting as perimeter around where birds kept at night. You can also put fencing around / on coop itself but that makes so you always have to on your toes when engaged in husbandry in those locations. As a kid I had raccoons and chickens as pets at the same time with both free-ranged although some chickens were kept in coops. The raccoons would try to get into pens as I watched and would follow me around as I fed (they liked in feed to supplement what they foraged). To keep the raccoon out of pens and chicken house I used heavier, more expensive materials that could not be easily chewed through. We used chicken wire a lot but only in locations the racoons could not get to. These days you have the hardware cloth option but you do not want birds roosting in contact with that where raccoon can contact chicken through the cloth. Make certain chickens roost free and clear of areas raccoon can get to while exploring perimeter of where they are contained. Make the door out of heavier materials that a raccoon cannot bend by prying with its hands and push it head through. Make so doors have latches in the corners and if doors long then middle as well. If a 5 year old human can get in so can a motivated raccoon. Also have chickens roost up in locations raccoon can neither climb or jump to. Raccoons are good climbers although they are not good at figuring out indirect routes for getting to roosting birds.

    Adult raccoons are surprising strong but they have to be able to get a grip to pry or climb so always consider how to keep those claws from getting into crevices.
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Nice post by Centrarchid.

    Since the first of the year I’ve trapped several raccoons, skunks, and possum, often on consecutive nights. As you’ve seen, just because you get one doesn’t mean you have solved your problem. There are plenty more being born all the time. Still I’m all in favor of removing the ones that are hunting your area. It reduces the chances of one having success. I’ll mention two of the raccoon I caught were trapped in mid-afternoon, sometime between my lunch and supper. They don’t just come out at night, though nighttime is your time of highest risk.

    I use a raccoon sized live trap. I’ve caught feral cats, doves, and such that I’m glad to release. With most foot traps you don’t have that option. If raccoons are your main target you might investigate the dog proof raccoon traps. Those supposedly greatly reduce the chances of you trapping something you don’t want to but I personally have not used one.

    The only true protection against any critter is barriers that they cannot breach. I’ve had really good luck with electric netting to give the chickens room to forage during the day and I lock them in a secure coop at night. My main run is 2x4 welded wire lined with chicken wire on the lower section (say 18” high) with an apron around the outside to stop digging predators. I have seen where critters have tried to dig but the apron stopped them.

    The material you use to build your coop and run (if you have a run) is very important, but the technique you use to build it is also important. The connections are often your weak point. Depending on what I’m trying to accomplish I’ve used 2x4 welded wire, various sizes of hardware cloth, and even chicken wire. If I’m attaching that to a round fence post I don’t use the little ¾” poultry staples, I use the 1-1/4” fence staples, and plenty of them. If I’m attaching those to a flat wooden surface, I don’t use staples. I use a board about ¾” thick and screw that on over the ends of the wire, making sure the screws go through the openings in the wire. To keep the wood from splitting drill pilot holes before you screw them on. I’ve been known to put fender washers on the screws to really hold the boards on tightly if the boards are a soft wood where the screw sinks right on in. If you clamp that down tight the wire doesn’t come off, the critter cannot get a grip on the end of the wire, and you don’t hurt yourself or tear your clothes on those exposed ends of the wire.

    As Centrarchid kind of mentioned, doors (and gates) can be a weak point, play a lot of attention to those.
    Brahma Chicken5000 likes this.
  10. clownychick

    clownychick Just Hatched

    Jun 20, 2016
    Ditto here. Had a total massacre this past Sunday, and have spent this entire week cleaning up/rebuilding (coincidentally, I was schedule to pick up 6 new BBS Orpington pullets that same Sunday afternoon). Tore the coop & run down to the studs, and basically wrapped everything in 1/2" hardware cloth, secured with deck screws and 1 1/4" fender washers. There's also chicken wire AND concrete mesh stapled onto the inside of all walls. Overkill maybe, but I've had it with varmints eating my babies. My coop is basically one of those cheap hamster wood Trixie things - realized pretty quickly it was a POS, so I elevated it onto a square base, and then built a small 4x4ish 'run' attached to it - this whole thing became the full 'coop', I made one end into a plywood gate (opens for cleaning) that's secured with a heavy metal hasp & padlock with key. The run attaches onto one side of the 4x4, it's basically a bit bigger than 5x7 rectangle, also with a gate that gets secured with a keyed lock. The pullets are still learning their way, but I shoo them into the main coop part at dusk and then lock that door as well (it's a small gate right now, but going to change that) - I put an extra piece of plywood and some concrete blocks as barriers too. (Inside the run. Just in case).

    That all said, I've been setting a havenoheart trap about 10 feet away from the coop where their path is. I know this is a family of 3 raccoons, mom and 2 little ones, and I know they've all now had a taste of my girls so I'm not ****** around. I caught one Wed nite and it met Mr. .22. Set the trap again last nite, woke up at midnight feeling funny so I went down to look. Turned on the light &saw another raccoon scramble away from the trap up a tree, hissing, and then heard something IN the trap. I was all excited, until I took a sniff.... yep. Caught me a &% skunk. ugh. Didn't even know there were any close by. This morning I relocated him a few miles down the road, though the &*% sprayed inside the trap (I covered it with 2 towels and a shower curtain before attempting to move it), so after I'd released him and went to put the trap back in the car I got a STRONG dose of eau de stank. sigh. Writing this now after I've just showered & attempting to wash clothes (the towels were a total loss, they got left by the side of the road).
    Brahma Chicken5000 likes this.

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