Last night when going out to check to see if my broody got off the nest yet, I discovered some of my girls were roosting in their run. Odd, but I decided to just leave them. The ones who were in the coop (which is inside a shed) decided to get up for the day and head out to the run as well. It was around 2:00 a.m. About 2:30, I peeked out to see if they were still in the run (yup), and caught sight of a raccoon (!!!!!) in my backyard, sniffing around my patio and making his way over to the run! I was horrified. When I scared it away, I think it ran behind the shed and scared the neighbor's dog because there was a LOT of racket that ensued. I went to bed with the windows open to alert me to anything that might endanger my chickens. Everything was fine this morning, but I'll be doubling up the security of everything around the run. OKAY... That brings me to a general opinion QUESTION: The rats that had become fairly friendly visitors in the run have disappeared. They aren't eating the chicken poop and the flies are starting to get thick, and I haven't seen the telltale digging in the normal "rat" locations. I thought maybe since the weather was a bit cooler that they had just found somewhere else to go. But now I'm not so sure. Do raccoons eat rats? Can they catch a rat? Last night was the first I'd seen of the raccoon. It's also the first I've noticed some of the girls roosting at night in the run. Maybe because the chickens are roosting outside, it's keeping the rats away? It's a mystery. I don't know if it's safe to assume the raccoon just discovered our yard last night at the very moment I happened to be peeking outside. Has he been lurking for some time now? Has he eaten the rats and now he's working on bigger and better things like my chickens? I don't *THINK* it could access the run, but when I read the threads on BYC, I always wonder if I'm missing something. There are very heavy and large field stones that line the bottom of the coop, but the rats found the tiniest spot between the run and the shed. Can the coon push a small air-conditioner out of the shed and climb in? The door doesn't secure with a lock, but it has a pretty tight seal when pulling it closed. It takes quite a bit to get it open. Can he push hard enough to open it? That's something I'm going to fix tonight. There will be a latch with a carabiner affixed today. I know the only assumption is that the raccoon is going to keep coming back and keep trying to get in. Do they ever give up? Is there a way to deter them? Is a trap my only option? Because I saw a picture on BYC somewhere of a raccoon flipping the trap upside down and taking the bait. It's worrisome. This is the first coon encounter I've had in the city, and knowing he's after my chickens makes me worry that he won't stop until he gets them. If I weren't afraid of the brown recluses in the shed, I think I would have slept out there last night. My protective instinct is strong right now. They are my babies!