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how to get rid of raccoon problems??

 
Lily Caplan
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Has anyone ever had raccoon problems?

I have a really bad raccoon problem in my neighborhood and I just don’t know how to make them go away. One of my neighbors had a family of raccoons live in their shed. She didn’t want to evacuate them because they had babies. I had never seen such a disgusting amount of poop in my life when we walked in there. It smelled strongly of raccoon. They tore down that shed when the babies grew up.

My last straw was when they destroyed my garden. I built a square foot garden and grew a beautiful crop of corn. I woke up one morning to find stalks and half-gnawed corn everywhere. That was it!

I’ve heard that raccoons have the same tastebuds as humans do, so that probably explains their penchant for going through our garbage and garden.

Does anyone here have any suggestions for how to get rid of raccoons? I would really appreciate it! I have heard De-Fence raccoon spikes work well but what do you guys think?
 
Marco Banks
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I don't know anything that will keep them away once they've discovered your garden as a food source.  They are grace-A vandals, just tearing things up, ripping corn off the stalk, and being an all around pain in the butt.  You've got to trap them.  If you don't want to use a leg-hold or barrel trap (which does a number on their legs—you've got to kill them if you use them) use a box trap.  Once you've got them in the trap, you can drive them far away and relocate them.

I've bought a couple of box traps on Amazon.  30 or 40 bucks or so.  Get a larger one -- they don't go into smaller ones --- at least a foot tall on the inside.  I use the same one for possums and squirrels, so it's better to get a big one you can use for all sorts of pests.

1.  They are very very smart.  The little ones are easy to catch, but mama will be smart.  If you catch the little ones first, she'll hang around and try to get them out --- very loyal and protective of her little ones.  If you get her first, the little ones are easy to catch afterwards.

2.  Use a bait that they can smell and really like.  I use sardines or canned cat food.  Sardines work best.  Put a few chunks around the outside and give them a taste, and the rest of the can in the back of the box trap.

3.  The little ones are cute as anything, but the big ones are mean.  If you catch them, they'll bark at you like a dog.  Use gloves when you pick up the cage just in case they try to reach up and scratch you.

Best of luck.

 
Lorinne Anderson
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I would suggest it is not a raccoon problem, but a lack of crop protection.

Knowing full well there were wild foragers in your area (raccoon Mum with kits in neighbors shed) it seems there was nothing done, proactively, to protect the crop...this seems a bit irresponsible, how are wildlife to know you did not plant the corn for them??  Seriously, though, killing, trapping, relocating etc. will not work, long term.  This simply creates a vacuum (empty territory) that will soon be repopulated (we all know nature HATES a vacuum - look at your garden and how quickly it will be populated with weeds!), and your troubles will start all over again.  Secondly, raccoons are one of the best predators against rats - likely they would have been rampant had the coons not been about and they would have trashed the corn field. Lastly, coons generally do not waste their time on unripe produce, they generally do not move in until the crop is prime, so the simplest solution is to harvest your crops promptly.

There are basically three ways to protect against unwanted raccoons, barrier, deterrent, or removal of attractant.  In your case, removal of the attractant is not an option (although properly securing trash cans would go a long way to eliminating their food source), so I will explain some simple, cost effective, permanent solutions that will keep your garden coon (and deer, rabbit, rat, squirrel....) free.

Barrier:  most labor intensive, but potentially free. Scout about for old, used, metal roofing to turn into fencing, it is climb proof.  It also has the advantage of being a wind break and creating a bit of a micro climate, along with being maintenance free as it will never rot (especially if you go the extra mile and use metal posts).  The roofing can be painted if color is an issue, or it can be purchased in a multitude of colors - just be sure to install it with the posts facing INTO your garden, so you do not have crop diners climb the posts.  I would also recommend burying the metal roofing fence at least a foot in the ground to deter the diggers (rats, rabbits etc.).  You will also have to trim any overhanging trees that could allow them to circumnavigate the fence.and be mindful of any structures they could climb to get over the fence. This will create a completely secure enclosure, assuming you miss no points of ingress.

Not free, but very effective, is portable is electric mesh fencing, often called rabbit fencing (kencove.com) this is a 3-4 foot high mesh, 150 feet long that can be temporarily or permanently installed (simply attached to push in stakes) and configured in any shape you desire.  It can also be moved from crop to crop as various things come into season before you are ready to harvest.

The deterrents are passive measures that make your garden unattractive for various reasons.  Bird scare tape (2 inch wide holographic mylar tape) works great for flies, birds, and other critters, although coons would be an unknown for me).  There is a product called a ScareCrow that is a motion activated water cannon/sprinkler that some folks swear by ($100 - but others say the critters get used to it to quickly).  There are motion activated sensors that trigger a crazy dog barking, or get a real dog.  Or the oldest standby, urinate on the perimeter of your property/garden regularly.  There are dozens of other 'home remedies' I am sure others can offer more suggestions.

At the end of the day, is it really fair for animals to suffer or die because  humans do not properly protect their crops; or because some critter was hungry and angered a human by helping themselves to an open buffet??  Poor crop protection planning should not entitle anyone to a rampant killing spree, let alone one that involves outright cruelty.  Lets be proactive and protect the crops IN ADVANCE, rather than take out ones frustration on critters after the fact when the fault is initial poor planning.  In any case, this is no place for the outright cruelty another poster advocated.  Be a human, be humane, and do not use leg hold traps, barrel traps, etc.; do not separate Mum's and kits, leaving the kits to slowly starve to death; do not trap and relocate dumping them into another raccoons territory where it is kill or be killed.  If killing is your only option, use a gun and do it right.

I hope that we all will take responsibility for both our action/inaction and view this as a lesson learned.  Let's plan better next year, learn how to co-exist with all creatures, and still manage to have a healthy harvest.
 
Troy Rhodes
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In many jurisdictions, it is illegal to relocate wildlife.  Where I live, that is the case.

On a higher level, you may be relocating your problem, and making it someone else's problem.  We live pretty rural, and have had animals dumped here.  Not cool.

Raccoons can quickly reproduce to high/nuisance/destructive/unhealthy levels.

Be extremely cautious around the raccoons and their droppings.  There are at least four diseases that are communicable to humans.

1. They are THE most common carrier of rabies in the US.

2.  Baylisascaris procyonis,  or roundworm encephalitis
the eggs are so light, they can become airborne and be inhaled by humans.

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/baylisascaris/gen_info/faqs.html


3. Leptospirosis

4. Salmonella


here's a nice summary:

http://www.austinpug.org/4-common-infectious-diseases-spread-by-raccoons/


There are ethical ways to trap and euthanize raccoons. 
 
Lisa Rollens
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Marshmallows make a good bait for raccoons.  Again, put a few outside and the rest in the trap.  I have had raccoon problems in 4 different states.  They thrive around humans and increase their populations.  AT the first sign of raccoons checking the outer rows of corn to see if it is ready, I tied my dogs around the garden, EVERY NIGHT BEFORE SUNSET.  At times with a  big sweet corn patch I've tied 3 out there on different sides of the garden.  It must just be the smell and noise and activity of the dogs that keeps the coons away.  I have never had coon problems after the dogs started their nighttime watch.  I'm sure they aren't very happy with me for doing it, especially during a rainy night, but they come willingly.  Border collies usually.  I don't put the little rat terrier out there.  I'm afraid she could become raccoon food.  Good luck.  I know what you are going thru.  BTW, some say electric fence works, usually at the top and bottom of woven wire or 2X4 fence.
 
Andrew Parker
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Raccoons are an invasive species in Utah (and probably anywhere west of the Rockies), so relocation is discouraged, and sometimes unlawful, depending on the jurisdiction.  One year, I had several rows of sweet corn stripped bare.  I put out a box trap and caught a mother and then four pups.  At that time, the Fish and Wildlife folks took care of urban wildlife and they provided a kill box at their office.  Now, you have to do everything yourself and hope for the best.  I used a boiled egg and peanut butter as bait.  If you don't want to catch skunks, and you really don't want to catch a skunk in a wire mesh trap, put the trap up at least 18 inches off the ground.  I used cinder blocks.  The raccoons will climb right in, no problem.

Raccoons are cute, intelligent, vile little devils that will strip your garden bare, kill your poultry and even small dogs -- and yes, their poop reeks.  If you stumble onto a family group, don't confront them.  I heard some interesting battle stories from the Fish and Wildlife control officer.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Twenty years ago I dealt with two farmers, one  spent almost every night, up on the barn roof, laying in wait for marauding raccoons to shoot, 17 in three months.  In less than a week I solved his problem.  The second had a Koi Farm - raccoons, water and fish, can you imagine a more perfect storm??  In a urban environment - shooting was not an option - he had trapped, spray painted their butts, and released 32 raccoons in just four months.  He spray painted them to see if they were coming back, they were not, others were simply identifying the vacant turf and were moving on in.  I solved his issue in under a week.  It is not because I am a 'coon lover' it is because I want a cheap, successful solution to a maddening problem.  Life is too short to spend every night up on the roof, waiting for coons to shoot.

There seems to be a lot of misinformation and or anecdotal information about raccoons, their habits, their history and their threat to humans, pets, livestock and property.  If I could just offer some insight into this clever, and yes, at times problematic, creature - one of the few that has actually learned to co-exist with humans, adapt and thrive in an urban environment.  My goal is to offer some understanding for a very misunderstood, environmentally valuable creature, and truly permanent solutions for unwanted wildlife. 

Raccoons are strictly defensive creatures, if threatened and unable to retreat, they will defend themselves.  Unlike cats, sometimes dogs etc. they do not stalk, hunt or attack for the sake of enjoyment.  They are omnivores, just like us, and will kill and forage to eat.  A raccoon has but one litter per year, born, generally in spring, and stay with Mum until mid winter.  They nurse for FOUR months (nursing Mums must feed frequently therefor WILL be out during the day), lose their baby teeth at SIX months, and are the only creature I know of that will keep a daughter from last years litter to co-raise the next generation with. 

A raccoon in the bush may need hundreds of square miles for a territory sufficient to feed it, in the cities, most just need a couple of city blocks, humans supply more than enough food for them in that tiny amount of territory.  They are incredibly bright, on par with a Rhesus Monkey, and a hair below a dolphin (the US military uses dolphins to find and deploy underwater explosives!!).  Perhaps this is why they are so easy to hate, they are constantly out thinking, out witting, and besting the humans around them. They have garnered a most undeserved reputation for being dangerous or aggressive...if someone cornered me, hit me, threw things at me, shot at me, trapped me in a tiny box, I too would be pretty nasty back.  I too would growl, lunge, and bite.  Generally, given a five foot berth, they will ignore you (glass doesn't count, they know it is solid and you cannot get them), and carry on - some humans view this 'lack of fear' as either a threat or an insult, it is only they have co-existed with us for so long they have us figured out and know when to be worried and when not to be.  The better raccoons are understood, the less likely they will cause you a problem.

Raccoons and Chickens:  a properly built coop with a cement floor, solid walls or heavy gauge wire, and enclosed soffits will secure any fowl overnight from predation.  At least raccoons don't slaughter the entire flock like some species, if a coon can get in so can a mink, weasel, bird of prey etc.  Let's look at safely securing our fowl so we don't make them "sitting ducks".

Raccoons and Garbage:  if a raccoon is getting into your garbage or compost it is not properly secured, instead of anger at the raccoon, view them as a messenger - if you are attracting coons it is only a matter of time before it is a bear, cougar or other predator that is dangerous to humans.

Raccoons and Crops:  when planting anything all manner of effort is invested into preventing insect predation, weed takeovers, and preparing great soil.  We need to also look at what animals or birds will also view your efforts as a buffet and prepare your defenses accordingly; deer, raccoon, bear, rabbit are just a few who will view your garden as their buffet, and why not, when nothing is preventing them from entering. 

Raccoons and Fruit/Grapes:  they doooo love corn and fruit, especially the 'pit fruits' like plums, cherries, grapes (they have seeds), but they are also extremely fussy, only the sweetest, ripest and most prime products will tempt them.  This is your secret to out witting them at their game.  Pick your produce AS SOON AS IT APPROACHES RIPENESS, beat them to the punch.

Raccoons and Rats:  if you have rats, you do not have coons, if you have coons you do not have rats...which animal is more damaging to plantings and buildings?? 

Raccoons and Baylis Ascaris:  technically this is correct, but look at the CDC numbers for how many actually contract this parasite - it is only the seriously immune compromised, or extremely heavy, daily, year after year ingestion of these eggs that result in contraction of the parasite - it is a round worm, just like hundreds of other round worms that dogs, cats, cattle carry, it is NOT limited to raccoons, I believe at last count this specific round worm has been found in  27 other species, it is called raccoon roundworm colloquially because they are immune to the negative consequences.

Raccoons and Rabies:  yes, they can carry rabies, as can ANY other mammal, interestingly, bats are one of the most contaminated vectors, but what we are looking at to deal with Zika?

I understand the knee jerk reaction when ones hard fought battle to raise a food garden is thwarted by ANY critter...but generally the damage is already done, and it is revenge the human is after.  Please, be it an eagle that picked off a chicken, a rat that destroyed your grain, or a coon that ate your corn, rather than vengeance, perhaps instead it is time to learn how not to be a victim next time.



 
Marco Banks
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I would disagree with the premise that to remove a raccoon is to invite a new one into the vacuum.  That depends on your location.  That hasn't been my experience at all.  Over the past 20 years, I've had 4 encounters with the little guys, but once I've trapped them and cleared them out, I'll have years of freedom from them.  I think I've got one out there now, but so far he/she hasn't been a problem.  But it's been years since I last had problems with them, so by trapping and relocating them, I've bought myself years of trouble free existence.

I live in Los Angeles country—close to 5000 square miles—much of it urban and inhabited, with well watered lawns and gardens aplenty.  But raccoons are still rare enough that removing them makes a serious dent in the local population and buying you some peace.

We've got owls and plenty of feral cats moving around at night to take care of any rats.  No need for masked-bandit vandals to deal with rats here.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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If you have had only four incidents in such a long period of time, I would suggest you are the victim of someone trapping and relocating raccoons TO your area.  Further, that suggests that your area is unsuitable habitat for raccoons and that is why when they find your property they become such an issue.  A prime example of why the "trap and relocate" option is not a solution, it just creates more problems for someone else.
 
Shawn Harper
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Marco Banks wrote:I would disagree with the premise that to remove a raccoon is to invite a new one into the vacuum.  That depends on your location.  That hasn't been my experience at all.  Over the past 20 years, I've had 4 encounters with the little guys, but once I've trapped them and cleared them out, I'll have years of freedom from them.  I think I've got one out there now, but so far he/she hasn't been a problem.  But it's been years since I last had problems with them, so by trapping and relocating them, I've bought myself years of trouble free existence.

I live in Los Angeles country—close to 5000 square miles—much of it urban and inhabited, with well watered lawns and gardens aplenty.  But raccoons are still rare enough that removing them makes a serious dent in the local population and buying you some peace.

We've got owls and plenty of feral cats moving around at night to take care of any rats.  No need for masked-bandit vandals to deal with rats here.


You may have more coons than you think.  A lot of older coons learn how to avoid trouble and co-exist. Sometimes someone traps a well behaved coon, and then another coon moves in. There was a documentary that was based off studying city coons. They found one per 10 houses! The coons kept eating dog and cat food left out.
 
Marco Banks
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:If you have had only four incidents in such a long period of time, I would suggest you are the victim of someone trapping and relocating raccoons TO your area.  Further, that suggests that your area is unsuitable habitat for raccoons and that is why when they find your property they become such an issue.  A prime example of why the "trap and relocate" option is not a solution, it just creates more problems for someone else.


Perhaps this is true in your environment, but in my experience, relocation of raccoons is a very viable and successful solution.  We relocate the raccoons to a location where they do not have to contend with cars, dogs, and humans --- and do not become a problem for others.

Most people just call animal control when they've got a problem raccoon or possum tearing things up.  Animal control will come out for feral cats, coyotes or other animals as well.  But they can take weeks to come out, and when they do, they often don't have the smarts to outwit the raccoons.  They'll leave a box trap for a couple of days, but they don't really know how to get them and will quickly give up.  So if you've got raccoon problems, you're on your own.  Further, because most people aren't growing the kinds of foods that raccoons like (sweet corn), they'll just ignore them and live with them.  Even when the coons harass their pets or get into their garage, they'll just keep the dogs indoors or bolster the door to the shed. 

Your speculation that the raccoons in our neighborhood are as a result of someone else transferring them here is just that, speculation.  Please exercise care in making such statements.  Animals have four legs, and the coyotes, cougars, raccoons and other wildlife that finds their way down the river washes into the Los Angeles basin from the hills that surround us (as well as hawks, owls and other birds of prey) relocate on their own.

I do agree with you that our location is not a suitable habitat for them, so when they come down the watershed and find their way into the neighborhood, they need to be relocated.  Killing them is not an option that I choose to explore.

 
John Walsh
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I think you can trap and remove a raccoon or two that is a particular nuisance successfully. I had a raccoon kill 150 trees in one night because he had learned how to removed guards. I trapped two raccoons and released them in a conservation area about 10 miles away and have not had any further problems. My neighbor was out to shoot them for killing his ducks, so I might have done them a favor. Perhaps other raccoons have taken their place, but none were smart enough to pose a threat to my trees. There are ethical entanglements, perhaps, but in this case I represent the plants and my fence wasn't keeping them out.
 
Betty Ladner
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It is really hard to get rid of them. We had raccoon problems few months back and we tried to trap them. It escaped, then we had to put an electric fence around our garden. It some how reduced our problems,..
 
Peter Ellis
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Twenty years ago I dealt with two farmers, one  spent almost every night, up on the barn roof, laying in wait for marauding raccoons to shoot, 17 in three months.  In less than a week I solved his problem.  The second had a Koi Farm - raccoons, water and fish, can you imagine a more perfect storm??  In a urban environment - shooting was not an option - he had trapped, spray painted their butts, and released 32 raccoons in just four months.  He spray painted them to see if they were coming back, they were not, others were simply identifying the vacant turf and were moving on in.  I solved his issue in under a week.  It is not because I am a 'coon lover' it is because I want a cheap, successful solution to a maddening problem.  Life is too short to spend every night up on the roof, waiting for coons to shoot.

[snipped reminder]


I read through your entire post, looking for the explanation for how you solved these people's raccoon problems.  I did not see how you solved the problem.  It would be helpful if you could explain how you solved their problem with raccoons.
 
Dan Boone
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Peter Ellis wrote:I did not see how you solved the problem....


I assumed it was the four paragraphs about depriving them of their food sources.  But more "as applied in that case" details would be interesting to see, I agree.
 
Bonnie Johnson
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Raccoons will wipe out a flock.  We left for a weekend. The raccoons found a way in the coop area with fenced in yard and killed 120 chickens, ducks and turkeys in one weekend.  There are plenty of raccoons. Yep they are cute. They will wipe out
chickens and kill more then they can eat. I have caught them in the act in a moveable chicken coop. Two coons had three birds dead. The only reason I found them was that they were trying to stuff one of the dead birds through a hole they had dug under the moveable coop and they couldn't get out past the dead bird.  AT that time, I did not have a gun so I had no choice but to open the coop so the raccoons could run away.  I have solved that problem.....  I trap them and then I kill them.  Yep. I shoot them with a BB gun.  I have larger guns too, but the BB gun is quiet and does the job just fine. None of this transporting and releasing and giving someone else your problem.  At the place we moved to about 7 years ago the people were feeding the darn raccoons.  This did not work well with my chickens. They were reaching through the wire grabbing chicks and eating their legs off or their beaks off while the chick was still alive. I had this happen to some ducks and turkey poults too. 

So I put out traps. I use both leg hold and live traps.  It is a little harder to shoot them when they are in a leg hold trap, but it can be done.  IF they are in my live trap, I can simply shove the barrel of the BB gun in the trap and get them right on top of the head.
Make sure you have a good higher powered BB gun.  If you use a live trap, then you need to stake it down. I have had coons learn to turn the trap over so the live trap would set off and then they could rattle the trap around and get the bait. I used cheap cans of tuna from Walmart.  

When we were having the worst of the coon problem here in OHio, We got three then someone hit one on the road and over the next week six more coons were hit in the same spot. That took care of the problem. Yes, I am rural.

I also think having a good dog is a must. I have a good varmint dog, a Parsons Terrier or a long legged Jack Russel named George. George has killed a mature coon on his own. I was amazed as I had read to many stories about how coons would rip a dog to shreds, even a big dog. George took this coon out and it was about a fifteen pound coon over 32 inches from head to tail.  George also kills ground hogs, rats, mice and moles. He is training a new dog that we adopted from the pound, but
this new dog will never be as good as George. 

I use a lot of moveable chicken tractors. I have had to double fence the wire portions to keep the raccoons from reaching through and killing chicks and chickens. I keep traps on the chicken tractors so if i have a raccoon infestation, I set the traps and
take them out. Usually we get a little peace for a while after we take some of them out.  but really I can't fence 26 acres to keep all the raccoons out of our property. AS lone as they leave the chickens/poultry  alone and leave most of my sweet corn alone, then they can roam the rest of the property. 

And yes, you can have rats and mice and have raccoons.  I mean reall,y if raccoons kept away rats there wouldn't be any rats in the city or on most farms.  I am sure that a raccoon would eat a rat if they could get one but if raccoons could really get rid of rats and mice every farmer would be keeps a pet raccoon or ten to keep the farm free from rats and mice.  There is no logic in that argument.   My varmint dog George is better than a cat for getting rid of rats and mice.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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I addressed dealing with raccoons in my previous post: 
There are basically three ways to protect against unwanted raccoons, barrier, deterrent, or removal of attractant.  In your case, removal of the attractant is not an option (although properly securing trash cans would go a long way to eliminating their food source), so I will explain some simple, cost effective, permanent solutions that will keep your garden coon (and deer, rabbit, rat, squirrel....) free.  With raccoons and chickens, barrier methods work best.

Barrier:  most labor intensive, but potentially free. Scout about for old, used, metal roofing to turn into fencing, it is climb proof.  It also has the advantage of being a wind break and creating a bit of a micro climate, along with being maintenance free as it will never rot (especially if you go the extra mile and use metal posts).  The roofing can be painted if color is an issue, or it can be purchased in a multitude of colors - just be sure to install it with the posts facing INTO your garden, so you do not have crop diners climb the posts.  I would also recommend burying the metal roofing fence at least a foot in the ground to deter the diggers (rats, rabbits etc.).  You will also have to trim any overhanging trees that could allow them to circumnavigate the fence.and be mindful of any structures they could climb to get over the fence. This will create a completely secure enclosure, assuming you miss no points of ingress.

Not free, but very effective, is portable is electric mesh fencing, often called rabbit fencing (kencove.com) this is a 3-4 foot high mesh, 150 feet long that can be temporarily or permanently installed (simply attached to push in stakes) and configured in any shape you desire.  It can also be moved from crop to crop as various things come into season before you are ready to harvest.

The deterrents are passive measures that make your garden unattractive for various reasons.  Bird scare tape (2 inch wide holographic mylar tape) works great for flies, birds, and other critters, although coons would be an unknown for me).  There is a product called a ScareCrow that is a motion activated water cannon/sprinkler that some folks swear by ($100 - but others say the critters get used to it to quickly).  There are motion activated sensors that trigger a crazy dog barking, or get a real dog.  Or the oldest standby, urinate on the perimeter of your property/garden regularly.  There are dozens of other 'home remedies' I am sure others can offer more suggestions.

As to the rat patrol, it is the Mama coons who will deal with rats as they will eat her babies while she is out foraging, same as they will try to eat caged birds and livestock through the wire.
 
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