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Repel raccoons with peppermint?  RSS feed

 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 251
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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I think Permies members usually like living with wildlife, and I’m no exception – within limits.  I have to admit we’ve taken steps on our place to keep deer and bears our of our food-growing areas, because in the past we've suffered from being unprotectd.  For the last couple years, raccoons have become a problem.  I won’t even go into the varied and clever ways they have wrought havoc on parts of our homestead! We’ve been trapping them (successfully sometimes), but their numbers in our general vicinity seem to be on an upswing.

So in searching out possible deterrents, I came across mention of the value of peppermint oil.  Said to be effective.

Here’s s link to an article discussing the topic…
https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2007/08/12/could_repelling_raccoons_really_be_this_simple.html

Gives me two ideas:  one is, we’ve got some mint growing wild (probably ferrel) on our land, and could try transplanting some to other spots.  second, peppermint oil is not very expensive to buy, so I could mix some into a spray.

Has anyone here been using this? what’s your experience with it?

By the way, I wish everyone luck who is dealing with the raccoon issue.
 
Lorinne Anderson
Posts: 40
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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I am about to run some experiments with raccoon deterrents regarding a new product called "the original Rodent Repellent by Dr. Doom" (it is a "bittering agent, not poison) that claims to work on everything from dogs and cats to raccoons, beavers, squirrels and porcupines (to name just of few on their label).  I will try the peppermint oil as well, and see what if any actually act as a deterrent - I put their favorite foods in a sealed plastic tub or zip lock bag and cover it with the deterrent (peppermint oil) to see if it keeps them from opening it to access the treats within - I will get back to you on the results.  If anyone has any other items they find work, let me know so I will gladly test them out also.  Although, I must confess, I do not have high hopes, in 20 yrs I have yet to find anything that works on the coons around here (urine, pepper, hot pepper, pepper sauce, mothballs.....and countless sprays and such from the garden or feed stores) but I do keep trying all sorts of things.  Unfortunately, it always seems to come back to removal of attractants and/or eliminating access to attractants.

As many have discovered, trapping and relocating or killing the trapped raccoons does not solve the problem permanently - it only creates a void into which more raccoons move into.  The most effective solution seems  to be clearly determining what it is that is attracting them and either remove the the attractant (ie: garbage) or eliminate access to the attractant (ie: guardian dog, electric fencing, metal roofing for fencing, metal stove pipe around tree trunks...).  My goal is to provide mutally satisfying solutions to wildlife conflicts.

Where specifically are they "wreaking havoc"?  Perhaps I can offer some specific suggestions that will make your property one that raccoons choose to avoid.  This way, the resident raccoon(s) will maintain the territory your property is in, avoid your property,  and keep raccoons at bay, allowing you to get on with permaculture.  I believe that once the actions of any undesireable wild creature is understood, there is usually a simple way to co-exist peacefully with them.  Yes, it may take a bit of effort or sweat equity, but it is usually not costly, and the result is a permanent solution.

For those who may be interested, here is a bit of Raccoon 101:  There are generally two times of year you will see what seems to be an upswing in the raccoon population, July to October when the babies are out with Mum, learning to be a raccoon, and January.  Most raccoon kits get the boot from Mum in January and have to go out and seek their own territory.  This is because raccoon breeding season is upon them, and it is time for Mum to look to the future, and male raccoons to safely cruise previously forbidden territories in search of receptive females.  Once she has bred, the male is basically "kicked to the curb" and must vacate the territory, until next year.  The female raccoon operates as a single parent, and will maintain her maternal territory year after year - although it is not uncommon for her to allow a female kit from the previous years litter to stay so they can co-raise the babies together (if the yearling does not also give birth, she acts as an "aunt" or babysitter). 

Territory size is based on available food, water and housing options, once a raccoon determines the size needed to support her and her young offspring she will not allow male coons or other Mums with kits into  her territory.  In the city this could be as small as a couple of blocks, in the wilderness this could encompass tens if not hundreds of miles.  This is why maintaining the territory of a raccoon is so critical.  When the Mum is removed it becomes a free for all, sort of like how an abandoned house is soon home to undesirable, human squatters, this is when you may find yourself dealing with a pack of bachelor yearling males...no explanation needed to explain why a bunch of unruly boys with no one in charge is not a good thing! 

If one feels the only option is eradication, please be as humane as possible, and do not trap in spring and summer.  Always take a moment to check the underside of any live trapped animal to ensure it is not a nursing female.  We are now in March, this is baby season for a lot of wildlife, including raccoons, squirrels, mink, otter, birds etc.  Please, do not trap and/or relocate wildlife in the spring /summer as it leaves orphaned, nursing, parent dependent babies behind to slowly, cruelly, starve to death OR to become nusience animals as they have not finished learning from their parent(s) how to successfully live on their own.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 251
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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I really appreciate your reply.  Obviously, you immediately grasped our exasperation.
Lorinne Anderson wrote:As many have discovered, trapping and relocating or killing the trapped raccoons does not solve the problem permanently - it only creates a void into which more raccoons move into.  The most effective solution seems  to be clearly determining what it is that is attracting them and either remove the the attractant (ie: garbage) or eliminate access to the attractant (ie: guardian dog, electric fencing, metal roofing for fencing, metal stove pipe around tree trunks...).  My goal is to provide mutually satisfying solutions to wildlife conflicts.

Where specifically are they "wreaking havoc"?

I don't see how we can eliminate the attractants.  To name a few: our grapes and our corn, which we nurture for ourselves, not the wildlife.  And, near our house, grubs found in the small "lawn" (mown feral grasses) that my partner prizes.

We have a 6-foot high wire fence for the deer (which does the trick) and an electrified strand for the bears.  I can't think of a way to make any sort of fencing work, given the configuration of our vulnerable plantings.

Lorinne Anderson wrote:Most raccoon kits get the boot from Mum in January and have to go out and seek their own territory.

Interesting.  But the last one I trapped, within the last month (Feb.) weighed about 20 lbs or more.

Anyway, Lorinne I'll be glad to learn your results.

I'll also appreciate anything else other people can offer from their own experience.
 
Lorinne Anderson
Posts: 40
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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You sound like you already have the solution at hand with the electric wire for bear.  With what you describe, electric fencing is likely the long term solution, unless you want to get a dog.

Can your current electric system be added to permitting the electrification of the actual fence or a second line or two placed lower down?  Perhaps a length of ordinary chicken wire along the bottom that is electrified?  Coons are likely going through the deer wire, but a few more strands lower down would likely eliminate that egress (assuming there are no trees etc. that overhang the fence that would let them deke around it).

As to the grapes, again, the electric fencing is likely your best solution.  An addition to your current electric system may be what is called electric netting or mesh - this is about 3 feet high, but with a more "chicken wire" size mesh (often called rabbit/poultry mesh/fencing) that hooks into your existing electric fence supply.  It is not cheap at $150 for 160 feet, but it is completely portable as it is only installed using thin step on posts that the mesh simply hooks onto so no post digging, nailing or other permanent fasteners.  I have experience with the product offered by kencove.com...it was used to keep cats out of the garden they were using as a giant litter box (ugh).  Unfortunately it worked too well for my situation and the mice had a field day in the veggie patch...but it might be worth checking out, as a one shot expense it may well be worth it.

Now, that prized lawn...I have bad news there and it is not the coons, in this instance the coons are actually helping, in the long run....  Those grubs devour the deep roots of the turf, eventually, as the infestation worsens, there will be no deep roots to regenerate from, and the lawn will die after a hard freeze or drought,.  Initially this will be in patches where the grubs were the worst (people often identify this initial, and subsequent die off as proof the coon damaged the lawn, but it is  the infestation of grubs that actually causes the die off),  but as they move on, and spread throughout the lawn, the entire lawn will perish.    I would highly suggest identifying the actual grubs, and looking to eliminate them.  Here, it is most often with an application of nematodes, but the timing is critical as they are only effective at a certain point in the grubs life cycle, again, here, it is July, but I do not know if that is region specific or not.  Generally these can be ordered through your local nursery (most take orders, do not actually stock them) and likely online.

I am not surprised the coon was 20lbs.  The babies getting the boot are pushing a year old (10-12 mths in Feb) and would appear as adults and be pretty close to adult size.  Likely a yearling seeking territory or a male seeking a mate.
 
robert e morgan
Posts: 26
Location: ne kansas
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aggressivly trap and eat. oreo cookies are a very good bait. cook whatever method works for you and freeze any that is more than you want at the time.
sounds like a continous source of free range protein to me.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 251
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Now, that prized lawn...I have bad news there and it is not the coons, in this instance the coons are actually helping, in the long run....  Those grubs devour the deep roots of the turf, eventually, as the infestation worsens, there will be no deep roots to regenerate from, and the lawn will die after a hard freeze or drought,.  Initially this will be in patches where the grubs were the worst (people often identify this initial, and subsequent die off as proof the coon damaged the lawn, but it is  the infestation of grubs that actually causes the die off),  but as they move on, and spread throughout the lawn, the entire lawn will perish.    I would highly suggest identifying the actual grubs, and looking to eliminate them.  Here, it is most often with an application of nematodes, but the timing is critical as they are only effective at a certain point in the grubs life cycle, again, here, it is July, but I do not know if that is region specific or not.  Generally these can be ordered through your local nursery (most take orders, do not actually stock them) and likely online.

True, I have more to learn about the grubs.  However, the damage done by a raccoon or two last year was maybe best described by my partner.  She was talking to a friend on the phone and said, "It almost looks like somebody took a rototiller to the lawn."  Whereas, with no exaggeration, the grass in that area had been very lush, with no bare spots showing.

Not to say that we cannot, with some effort, find and identify the grubs, so I don't reject that.

Still wondering about the peppermint oil.  It's not just ourselves dealing with raccoons in cultivated portions of our land.  Our area is teeming with homesteads of five to thirty acres, and many people have similar problems with raccoons n the last couple years.
 
Lorinne Anderson
Posts: 40
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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The grubs will take up to three years to totally destroy the lawn.  It has been raining and snowing here so will have to wait for the weather to dry up to ensure the product is not washed off the test objects. 
 
Fred King
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My experience with peppermint oil was placing it in a small teracota pot to act as an air freshener. I hung the pot and left for about 2 hours. When I returned I found a bear crawling threw an open window. After chasing it away I went to do a chore. When I came back after another different bear was inside. 2 bears in one afternoon made even me think. I took the pot with the peppermint oil outside and the next day except for a few crumbs of clay it was gone. I am not sure about raccoos but if you have bears in your area I would be very careful about peppermint oil.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 251
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Fred King wrote:My experience with peppermint oil was placing it in a small teracota pot to act as an air freshener. I hung the pot and left for about 2 hours. When I returned I found a bear crawling threw an open window. After chasing it away I went to do a chore. When I came back after another different bear was inside. 2 bears in one afternoon made even me think. I took the pot with the peppermint oil outside and the next day except for a few crumbs of clay it was gone. I am not sure about raccoos but if you have bears in your area I would be very careful about peppermint oil.

Yikes!  So your story is peppermint is a bear attractant... but you're uncertain of repellent effect on raccoons.

Well, I do still want to hear from anyone who has tried the mint specifically for raccoons during seasons when they tend to show up.
 
Ian Rule
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robert  e morgan wrote:aggressivly trap and eat. oreo cookies are a very good bait. cook whatever method works for you and freeze any that is more than you want at the time.
sounds like a continous source of free range protein to me.


I hear lots of survivalists promise that raccoon meat is.... gross. Dangerous to cook over an open flame, due to being so damned greasy. I couldnt postulate if its the 'wilderness diet' or the 'man-made garbage diet' that results in less than preferable grease-meat, and I dont think I care to find out :p
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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PEPPERMINT OIL:  this was an epic fail! 

I put Honey Nut Cheerios in an old yoghurt tub, then covered it liberally with 1.5 mls of pure peppermint oil and placed inside the tire swing.  The tub was removed, and disappeared.  Took me two days to find the tub - it had been chewed to open with tooth slash marks every centimeter along the bottom.  This says they didn't just pop the top - they chewed it open, in spite of being covered in the peppermint oil.  So the result is, raccoons do not find peppermint oil either distasteful or a deterrent.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 251
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:PEPPERMINT OIL:  this was an epic fail!

Lorinne, your experiment, as described, sounds like a good one.  The honest results are unfortunate.

Unless I or someone else can report convincingly about good results from similar trials, I'll have nothing encouraging to share with my neighbors.

The result, for the local raccoons, will likely (at best) be:  Trap humanely.  Shoot, point blank.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Probably only a "chapter" in my thinking, but I'll continue our raccoon saga.

Our whole neighborhood being plagued with a big raccoon infestation over the last six months or so, I thought I'd tell the story of our spring so far. We have a live trap, and (since our valley folks, us included, love wildlife) through a period of months last winter and this spring I was relocating the first four coons we trapped.  Then we caught another one, quite large. I'd come to feel that probably there was no place in the woodsy, creekside areas I'd been taking them to that was far enough from people's home sites and homesteads. So I shot this last one. Quick, clean death in the trap.  Since then, we've seen no sign of raccoons. I think they sense something when their species' blood has been spilt on the land and maybe stay quite distant from the execution spot, at least for a time. We'll have to see.

Consequently, haven't had the chance to try peppermint oil here yet this year.
 
Chris Barrows
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I used to have raccoon problems in my garden but have it mostly taken care of.

I empty my vacuum cleaner around the perimeter of the garden, along with the vacuums of my friends and neighbors.

I do this in the hope of the dog/cat hair and dander will act as a deterent.

It works fairly well, but needs to be re-dusted after each rain.

Not perfect and occasionally  (2-3 times a season)  I have to trap or shoot a few, but it has cut the corn and melon damage by 80-90 percent.
 
Chris Gilliam
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Killing a coon does nothing to deter others. They walk over the dead bodies of their buddies to get to food. There is nothing wrong with eating them, it's the best possible thing you can do, in my humble opinion.
Don't wipe them out, but there are more there than you know about, don't be afraid to trap quite a few. Cook whole in crock pot or grind into burger.
Find my YouTube channel if you want to see how real trapping is done.
 
Marco Banks
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The new name for my .22:  Peppermint.  She's a good rifle that doesn't say too much, but always is there for me.

Yes, Peppermint repels varmints. 
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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