Raccoons are quite dangerous animals, especially when it comes to poultry, therefore if you are dealing with their presence around your property, you might want to check out some reviews of raccoon traps as well. Besides being known among chicken owners as a real threat, raccoons are also adaptable animals that can use urban areas as habitat without too much effort.
Things such as fruits, nut trees, easily accessible bins, and farm animals can get their attention since they are favored food sources. You should also keep in mind that even though these wild animals prefer nuts and fruits, their diet also includes worms, insects, and other animals as well. That’s why chickens and other similar animals are exposed to this threat.
In the following lines, we’ll take a closer look at what you should know in order to prevent these animals from hurting your chickens. However, before that, it’s good to know a bit more about raccoons in order to understand them and their behavior.
Some facts about raccoons
On average, a raccoon is around 32 inches long, including its tail, and stands at a weight that usually ranges between 11 and 18 pounds. Of course, male raccoons tend to be larger than females, while their fur comes in colors such as brownish black or grizzled gray. They are mostly known for their black-ringed tail and the distinctive black bandit-like coloration of their face.
Since they are native to North and South America, raccoons are largely found across the United States, as well as in Southern Canada or Northern Argentina. The increased agricultural activity in Canada has made them expand their range on that territory, which means that their impact might widen as well.
As it happened with many other types of animals throughout history, raccoons have made their way into Europe and Asia as well. Germany hosts the largest population on the old continent, but neighboring countries have reported sightings as well. As for the territory and conditions they usually prefer, these include lower elevations since these animals are not fans of harsh winter conditions.
On the other hand, the fact that they are so adaptable has made raccoons extend their range toward such areas that might not be as friendly, but they provide the necessary resources for the species to survive.
The dangers raccoons pose
Before saying anything else, it’s important to acknowledge that raccoons are very intelligent predators. They are able to climb walls, fences, and even dig their way underneath various barriers in order to get access to food, particularly chickens. Moreover, they are very skilled with their paws that are used in order to open latches and reach through wire fencing.
That’s why chicken coops are not always as effective as they need to be if a raccoon sets its mind on getting inside. Even more important is the fact that you need to continuously monitor and improve elements that secure the coop since these animals are known for taking advantage of any kind of flaw, even a minor one, to get to the chickens.
In terms of the way they attack, raccoons usually bite a chicken’s head or the upper area around the neck. It’s true that we’re getting into some unpleasant details here, but it’s important to be aware of how these animals act since you might need to recognize an attack and determine whether it was caused by them or not.
In the case of chickens, once a raccoon attacks, the breast and crop may get torn and then eaten. The bad news is that several kills can take place in a single night raid. The chickens might be either killed on site or dragged away at a rather short distance. If you notice that chickens are missing, this might explain what happened.
According to some reports, raccoons have been the ones responsible for completely eliminating populations of nesting waterfowl in certain areas. This fact allows you to see that they are very effective when it comes to catching birds. Even if a single raccoon is around, it can devastate a flock of chickens in a short amount of time.
Moreover, if it gets inside the chicken house, it can both kill the birds and eat their eggs, which makes the damages even more significant. Since these are intelligent animals, they will know whether a certain chicken house provides easy access to food, so they will return again and again.
Of course, you might be very interested in knowing how you can prevent the presence of raccoons on your property. Besides placing traps, there are several other measures you can take to ensure that these animals won’t be tempted to come around your flock of chickens, or at least be less tempted to do so.
Raccoons, of course, like having access to water and food, which means that you shouldn’t leave anything around the house that might attract them and even help them take note of the chickens you have. Such things include pet food dishes, garbage bins without lids, or chicken running around the yard during the night.
Make sure that your trash bins are always kept closed and that your chickens are securely enclosed in a coop once the evening comes. Furthermore, since raccoons are skilled at using their paws to unlock things, you will need to add safety measures around the coop. You can find raccoon-proof latches in specialized stores with which you can close the coop’s windows.
Placing paving slabs or using buried wire mesh around the perimeter is another excellent idea since they can also dig their way into an enclosed space. Moreover, hardware cloth can be fitted as well around the run in order to stop these predators from reaching through a fence and grabbing a chicken.
According to experienced chicken owners, it’s a good idea to use large screws and washers on the window frames in order to fit hardware cloth, since raccoons can rip staples out quite easily. Unfortunately, your chickens are not completely safe during daylight either.
Even though raccoons are nocturnal animals, they are now adapted to urban areas and got used to human activity. That’s why in many instances they can get surprisingly bold and plan otherwise unexpected attacks.
You can also look for ways to make your property unattractive to raccoons. Besides storing any kind of potential food away as safely as possible, you can also use other methods to keep them at bay. Some that have proven successful are unpleasant odors, loud noises, and flashing lights.
If you don’t want to turn your yard into a club, you can also keep a well-trained dog on your property. However, you should be careful in this case, since raccoons have been known to attack dogs when trapped, and some of them may carry rabies.
Even though they are unlikely to kill a dog or a cat, some rare cases have been reported, so you need to make sure that any dog guarding your property is well-trained to protect itself as well. As for killing raccoons, you should know that even though this is permitted in most areas in the United States, transporting or relocating these animals is often illegal.
You should check with the local authorities to see what is exactly allowed and what isn’t in the specific area you live in.