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Monday, November 4, 2013

Raccoons All Over the Place!

My hens get very nervous, skittish when the raccoon is around. This evening, about five-thirty I decided to put the hens up early to avoid an early meeting with coons. I was going to feed them carrots.

Not today. I tossed a little piece of carrot to Patsy Cline. She would have had to walk toward me to get it. She refused, like she was afraid of me. When I tossed the bit of carrot, Patsy Cline startled, walked around, looked everywhere, tried to dodge my foot, started the "danger" sound alarm. Thelma was already on high alert. So, I quickly went to the back yard, crossed to the pen. Patsy Cline followed. Thelma seemed frozen on the other side of the yard. Into the pen I dropped the carrots I diced for them. They want their carrots diced. Patsy Cline came right behind me even though she was skittish. She went into the pen and started eating. Thelma was forty feet across the yard near that back corner of the house.

She ran toward me with all her feathers on her head and neck standing straight out. Her body feathers and wings were out and fluffed. She looked strange and frizzled. Then, she raised her wings and shook herself. I have never seen a hen do that. She looked like a fighting cock. She would not go in the pen, Patsy Cline rushed out of the pen and stood with Thelma when she saw Thelma running all fluffed out..

A movement on the other side of the yard caught my attention. A huge raccoon was walking slowing right where we all three had been two minutes before. Now, I believe that the raccoon was right behind me on the other side of the porch, maybe just peeking from out of the crawl space. I watched as the raccoon slowly climbed the fence.

Since the hens were not in their pen, not interested in going in, upset, skittish, I knew I would not be able to get them in soon. Moving steadily and without too much noise or arm movements, I went to the house, grabbed my camera and the box of oats that was almost finished. When I took it to the pen, the shrik shrik bit of oats shaking  in the canister caused the hens to startle. Once I got into the pen, they responded to my shaking of the oats onto the ground. As I left the pen, both hens startled, jumping, clucking, walking about and warily approaching the oats again.

Closing the door, I was at last feeling secure about their safety. I am afraid that one day my presence will not frighten a raccoon away, that a raccoon will just run and kill a hen with me present. At that point, the raccoon and I would tangle.

Once they were safe, I turned my attention to the trap. My body is not well enough for all this hauling of the cage. Plus, I carried the pipe because I am afraid of the raccoon. As I went behind the house, from one side to the other, I saw the raccoon come back over the fence, walk along the rail near the top of the fence, and lost the sight of him behind the privet. Now, I always put the cage the last place I saw the raccoon. But, I was going to have to go under the tree.

Yes, my imagination is getting the better of me, but I envisioned the raccoon jumping on me and shredding me. So, I warily walked under the privet, put down the cage and retreated to get the bait--watermelon and the foil around it, removed and crumpled into a shiny ball.

Raccoons are fascinated by shiny objects. Foil works as bait, even without food.  They investigate and cross the trigger for the trap.

All this exhausted me. But, Thelma and Patsy Cline are safe for one more night. I feel so sorry for them when they are frightened. So ends Monday.

Your turn
If you can add anything to my raccoon knowledge or I have misjudged raccoons, let me know. Do you or have you had raccoons bothering your chickens?

22 comments:

  1. Oh yes...I have had racoons kill my chickens...reached right thru the fencing and grabbed them and pulled as much of them thru the fence as would fit, head first and started eating them. It was horrible.

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  2. Akannie,
    Horrors! I have found them dead, but the raccoon did not got into the pen once. Another time, Devil Dog was allowed to run loose, contrary to our leash laws. Devil Dog frightened my hens to other yards. I got three of them, but the one that was somewhere hiding was killed by a raccoon right outside the pen as she was coming back to the pen.

    I definitely have a mama and two teens on the prowl.

    Yeah, horrible.

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  3. how annoying.
    you don't have neighbors that feed them do you?
    Hope you are feeling better.

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  4. J and M,
    I know at least one who thinks they are cute and feeds them with the cats. The neighbor behind has little dog in her yard. The raccoon could eat food if she puts it out. Then, maybe the dog scares the raccoon. My neighbor next door has no animals and is never in the back yard, so no, she does not.

    I am very near woods, so even though this is a neighborhood, acres of trees are just a block away. Raccoons will continue to arrive, wave after wave.

    I feel so much better that I am exhausting myself...lol. you know how that goes. Then, the raccoon drama and my exertion with that is awful. Thanks for the sentiment.

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  5. A very good friend of mine suddenly saw her bathroom ceiling open up and a raccoon stuck his head through. Then she had to have the attic disinfected and her roof replaced. The entire raccoon family had moved into her attic. Plus if you see them in the daytime, you have to consider rabies. And I assume you don't have any weapons.....

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    Replies
    1. Oh, I have had the raccoon look down at me. Three babies fell through the ceiling!

      I have considered rabies. That is one of the reasons I carried the pipe with me. I am sure I would have suffered if it came at me, but at least I would have something heavy to swing at it at some point.

      Do not assume. I have a fine pellet gun that I have no idea how to use. It would make a nice club. I wish I did have a gun that would do some damage. But, it is illegal to shoot a gun in the city.

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    2. It's only illegal if you are caught.

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    3. J and M,
      That's true. When the guy across the street was shooting at squirrels, I asked him if he knew it was illegal to shoot a gun in the city. He never fired another shot. Come on down and have a ball shooting raccoons. I would probably shoot somebody since I am not proficient with a gun. Well, I don't own one. You all bring guns...lol. Thanks

      Delete
  6. My sister puts out tons of mint since they hate the smell of it and she also uses a potato gun

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    Replies
    1. j,
      Mint? Ha! I can do that. Any particular kind of mint, I mean flavor of mint. Please ask her. I will have to look into the potato gun. Thanks.

      Delete
    2. j,
      I looked that up, you know--fact or fiction? I also have Irish Spring soap, gotten free. I hope that will work in the meantime. I am going to put slices all around and see if it is a deterrent at all. Thanks.

      Delete
  7. Linda, Did you say that the animal control people from the county will take the raccoon that you trap? That is good!11 Our problem here was no one would come after the possums we trapped.

    I hope you have a good night's sleep and wake feeling much better tomorrow.

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    Replies
    1. Janet,
      It is city Animal Control. They will even bring a trap. However, there is a waiting list for traps. A friend lent me this trap he borrowed from someone else. Then, the friend moved, leaving the trap with me. I would have returned it, but I had no idea who lent it to him. Soooo, I own a trap.

      Right now, I am going to bed. Exbf is coming to help me tomorrow. It's almost 1:30. After taking the first prednisone, I have gradually had less pressure in my head and ears. My ears don't ring and chest is looser. My cough is still not productive.

      Delete
  8. I had a bad outcome with hens and raccoons. They will not give up once a "food" source is found. And somehow, they let their friends in on that too. You'll be busy getting rid of them, but unless they are taken more than 10 miles away, they'll be right back...........

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    Replies
    1. Sue,
      I only have this problem sporadically. However, I guard against it and fear it all the time. I brought my hens into my house for 19 months, I think, after the first loss. Once my pen was secure, the hens wanted to sleep in here in their little cage.

      It is illegal to move a raccoon. They must be destroyed. Animal Control for the city takes care of that.

      Hens and raccoons do make for a bad outcome. All I can do is just be vigilant. Sometimes, I have left the door to their cage open three nights in a week with no problem. I would just forget!

      These blankety blankety raccoons do keep me busy, alright! Maybe I will catch one by morning. Last time, I caught an armadillo.

      Delete
  9. I've heard of chicken diapers so chickens can be in the house. :-P

    It's pretty amazing that the girls know when the racoon is around. Maybe they should have the pellet gun!

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    Replies
    1. Sue,
      They know, just know. They allow the one cat to sit there while they peck around her. However, a raccoon anywhere is feared. Yes, they would be good shots, I am sure.

      Delete
  10. Sue,
    I have considered making diapers for them. I am allergic to feathers and fur. So, that might not work out for me.

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  11. I have no knowledge of racoons at all, as we don't have them in the UK.

    Sorry I can't help laugh at the thought of chickens in diapers. :D

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    Replies
    1. LL,
      You are so lucky not to have raccoons. They are vicious little beasts. Yes, I laughed at chickens in diapers, too.

      Delete
  12. I've only ever seen one raccoon out in the daylight and it was clearly ill. There was an issue with distemper in my area a few years ago around the same time, so the thing likely had distemper.

    I've seen raccoon in my yard around my chicken coop before, but it was always at night. One night the 'coon did scare the hens pretty badly, but it was sufficiently slowed down by the bird netting I had over the top of the run then that I was able to get out there and scare it away before it did any harm. It came back again a few nights later, but the hens were securely locked in their little hen house so it wasn't able to do anything but scare them again.

    My current coop is much more secure and has an integrated run. I've learned that it pays to have a very secure coop. There are very few nights of interrupted sleep now! All the walls and the ceiling are either solid or covered with 1/2 hardware cloth, and I have hardware cloth skirting the entire thing. Every door or opening to the coop is padlocked shut. I used to leave the keys in the padlocks since raccoon aren't smart enough to turn a padlock key and go through the rest of the steps to open the bolt locks, but once some other chicken keepers in the city started reporting hens stolen from their coop by two-legged predators I started bringing the keys in the house at night.

    I do let the hens out to roam the yard on a daily basis, but the only daytime predators around here are hawks and they have plenty of hiding places.

    I'm not sure what you can do about raccoon that roam around during the day other than to have them trapped and killed. Good luck!

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    Replies
    1. Linda,
      This 10x10x6 foot dog pen has hardware cloth over the top and hog wire under the perimeter. So, it is secure that way. So far, we don't have two-footed predators.

      This is very near dusk I see raccoons. I don't go out at dawn to see what they are doing. It is always within 45 minutes of full dark when I see them. Hopefully, they are not ill. I keep baiting the trap and the bait is gone the next day. I think the trigger may be stuck. Last night, once again the bait was gone. When I get them trapped, I will have them killed by Animal Control. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Delete

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