Raccoons

Raccoons in the garden? Here are tips on how to combat these masked bandits!

Raccoons are nocturnal feeders that eat your sweet corn, though they also eat fruit trees, peas, potatoes, and grubs.

Even though wild raccoons prefer areas with trees and a source of water, more and more of them are raiding gardens because gardens are an easy source of food. 

How to Identify Raccoons in your Garden

If your lawn has a lot of holes in it, or your mulch pile has a lot of holes, you probably have a nightly visitor. Raccoons will dig up lawns and mulch piles looking for insects to eat. They will also empty bird feeders as well, so keep an eye on those to see if you have a raccoon problem.

Of course, if you have corn, there's nothing more infuriating than finding stalks topped and ears ripped open and half eaten. (Even more frustrating is the idea, offered by animal researchers, that raccoons are wasteful because that don't really like sweet corn all that much; in fact, they seem to prefer sunflower seeds, dog food, and sardines.)

The persistence and proliferation of raccoons has inspired many solutions; one of them is bound to work for you.

How to Get Rid of Raccoons

  • If your home is near your garden, remove any possible food sources from the area, including pet food and bird seed. Buy garbage cans with locking lids and keep inside a garage if possible. Keep pet doors sealed shut between dusk and dawn. Cap your chimneys. Seal any holes or gaps in attics and roofs. 

  • Spread newspapers around the perimeter of the garden and then spread mothballs on the newspapers.
  • Scatter blood meal around corn plants.
  • Tune a radio to a rock station and set it in the middle of your garden and/or corn patch. Leave it on all night. The noise will scare away the raccoons.
  • Put lights in the garden. A bright lantern will sometimes keep Sun-shy raccoons away.
  • Plant enough corn for man and beast alike.
  • Grow tall varieties such as 'Silver Queen', 'Kandy Korn', and 'Lancelot'. Taller plants bear their ears higher, causing raccoons trouble getting leverage to topple stalks and ravage them. They prefer shorter plants.
  • Build a good fence around your garden. Beware though, raccoons are agile and intelligent; make sure your fence will keep them out. You may need to install an electric fence. This is a good measure. A two-wire fence, with one wire four to six inches above the ground and the other at 12 inches, should be effective.
  • Add some pinwheels and streamers to your garden to scare the creatures.
  • Grind up garlic, mix it with an equal portion of chili powder, and spread it around the garden. Frequent applications are needed.
  • You can try to repel raccoons by putting dog hair or human hair around the garden.
  • Try sprinkling wood ashes around your plants.
  • Hang shoes and clothes that smell of human perspiration around your garden or corn patch.
  • You can also plant squash around your corn or other plants to deter raccoons; they don't like walking on the prickly squash vines.
  • If your raccoon problem is persistent, you can set humane, live traps in your garden and release the animal at least three miles away. Raccoons will eat virtually anything; try fish-flavored dry cat food, chicken necks, ears of corn, or whole peanuts for bait. (Note: Be aware that many species of wildlife do not survive when placed in a new territory so consider this decision carefully.)
  • Keep a dog in the yard—a good dog who doesn't mind the night shift. This will save you a lot of corn, but, on the other hand, you may be too tired from lack of sleep to pick it.

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Comments

For skunks and other

By c mcelroy

For skunks and other "critters" under our barn, we bought about 1 pound of the hottest peppers we could find. Put them in a saucepan we did not want to keep, and covered them in water. Put them on the stove to simmer till the peppers were cooked extremely tender.We had to add water several times. You want it as concentrated as possible. Then strain out the juice and put the juice in a spray bottle. We used 1/2 pepper juice and 1/2 water. Spray around the area you want the critters to leave. Do NOT let spray hit your eyes!!! Awful!!! It ran the skunks. Now we have raccoon's and are going to do it again! Had to re-do it after big rain, but, it's not expensive to fix.

How do you get rid of

By jony

How do you get rid of raccoons in a corn field, about 6 acreas of land? My husband grows silver queen corn and then we sell it at our produce stand here at home, but the raccoons love the corn. (shot gun) ?

I am not sure of the last

By Donnaebk

I am not sure of the last comment about leaving a dog out in the garden. Raccoons can fight and carry rabies. People might take you literally and chain a dog out in the garden in the elements. I think that is a bad idea. My dogs went outside last night for a last pee and they treed a raccoon, the dogs were smaller than the raccoon. Not good.
They were barking and I went out with a flashlight to get the dogs.. I wish we could live and let live...these animals are just trying to survive.

Agree. I have had raccoons

By Vas

Agree. I have had raccoons walk right up to me so I don't know if I want my dog out there. A baby one was climbing out fence. All our dogs were barking like crazy and it didn't even faze it. It just started hissing.

Pre-harvest trapping has

By Almanac Staff

Pre-harvest trapping has proven to be the most effective solution. I think you will find this reference page helpful: http://extension.umass.edu/vegetable/articles/managing-wildlife-damage-m...

I have little problem with

By Michael Moore 2

I have little problem with raccoons in my garden. They visit some and eat a few ears of my tall Golden Queen, but not enough to be a worry. My problem is with squirrels. They devoured at least one fourth of our sweet corn last year. HELP!!!!

I wish I knew. I have 2 that

By Carol W.

I wish I knew. I have 2 that moved into my tree in the back yard and are eating cat food that I feed the ferals. I'm going to have to train them to eat earlier.

If you figure out how to

By ShelleyG

If you figure out how to change their schedule, please email me! My ferals are not a colony. They come all times of evening up to 10-11 o'clock! Thanks!

My husband live on a farm,

By Ruth Williams

My husband live on a farm, which some folks have a bad habit of dropping off cats. Our animal control officer dropped off 5, which we do not mind because they keep the mice away. They have all been fixed, thank goodness, they are all female. :) What I do is feed them in the morning when I get up, then about 5:30 at night I check their bowls about 8:00 P.M. and empty it if there is anything left over. I have seen racoons, squirrells, possumms and skunks come up on our patio to eat the left over cat food. That is why I do not leave any out after I go to bed. Try this and see if it works, it did for me. Good luck !

See our page on squirrels for

By Almanac Staff

See our page on squirrels for tips on how to control them: http://www.almanac.com/content/squirrels

What About Squirls?

By SS

What About Squirls?

Please see our squirrels page

By Almanac Staff

Please see our squirrels page at
http://www.almanac.com/content/squirrels

I just read another article

By S in FL

I just read another article that stated it was illegal in all 50 states to use moth balls to deter raccoons?? I didn't know that until reading it but we used mothballs last night-propped a large piece of plywood supported by shovels against the ripped screen on our porch with the mothballs scattered across the ground. The raccoon pushed the plywood out of the way & might as well have just spit on the mothballs..clearly, they didn't work. I've been reading that ammonia & cayenne pepper works, we will be trying those tonight!!

Thanks for the info about

By Doreen Mann

Thanks for the info about getting rid of raccoons. We have one that is pretty big but he stays away from us. ANy ohter idea's on how to get them not eat the potatoe plants?

Thanks

Perhaps plant broad beans

By Almanac Staff

Perhaps plant broad beans around your potatoes. The heavy vines are a deterrent. Otherwise, all the tips above work! You could also invest in a predator protector. See: http://www.almanac.com/product/predator-preventer

I EMPHATICALLY advise AGAINST

By PaulSJ

I EMPHATICALLY advise AGAINST the type of devices recommended above! A neighbor has one, and I've come to refer to it as sonic terror infliction. Of course, these neighbors are old and can't hear it and they are rather ignorant so they won't listen to my request to turn it off at least during the day, so we can't have a door or window open at the back of the house or use our yard without ear plugs...These sonic devices should be illegal!! They are far far far worse than someone blasting rock music from their backyard all day, and THAT is illegal. Maybe some devices are different, but the one I am all too painfully familiar with sends a high pitched frequency every time the wind blow a branch on their yard (sometimes every 30 seconds!)that makes my entire body tighten even with our patio door closed. Absolutely not pleasant. If you have reasonably good hearing yourself and/or care about the sanity of your neighbors, do NOT get one of these!!!

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