Raccoon Tracks & Signs

raccoon skull, raccoon, poultryIt’s usually hard to make people who don’t deal with the damage a raccoon cause understand why we’re harsh. A detailed explanation might help.

Raccoons love of chicken, duck and turkey. They get into places you wouldn’t expect, reach through small gaps, and rip heads, legs and wings off. When they rip the head off the suffering is over quickly. If they rip a wing or leg off they’ll eat it and then go back to the injured bird for more. We have to make noise before letting the dogs out at night to give them a head start for the trees. After that we want the dogs to tree them and bark to make them as uncomfortable as possible. It won’t keep them from coming back but it might scare them off for the night.

Even though raccoons can’t get into the hen house we don’t want them near it. They upset the chickens and ducks enough to slow down egg production and, because we have the birds as an important part of our food source, we can’t allow that. This partial skull of a small raccoon shows the size of their teeth. We’re surrounded by millions of acres of forest and plenty of natural food. They don’t need to be here. Unlike bobcats, our other poultry predator, feeding them away from the homestead doesn’t keep them away.

Raccoon Diseases

Raccoons carry rabies and distemper. Rabies isn’t an issue here (yet) but when the raccoon population is too high it’s sure to be knocked back by distemper. As much as I don’t like them I don’t want them to suffer from disease.

raccoon tracks in mud raccoon tracksTracks and scat are the most obvious signs of raccoons. Being nocturnal, you’llĀ  see them most often in your vehicle’s headlights or raiding bird feeders in the backyard. Seeing them during the day doesn’t mean they’re sick or injured but those animals are worth keeping an eye on.