Tracks

Asymmetrical and hand-shaped, with 5 finger-like toes. Front tracks have longer toes that are more spread apart. Hind feet often register a larger palm and heel pad.

Droppings/Scant

Tubular with blocky ends, 3/8 inch in diameter.

Sounds

Barking, hissing, wailing tremolo, churr-churr noise, piercing scream.
Raccoon map

The Raccoon

Raccoons (Procyon lotor) should be a significant concern for poultry owners. Raccoons tend to be underestimated---their abilities as well as the potential damages caused. Raccoons are fantastic climbers and can climb any surface with the exception of glass and unweathered sheet metal; climbing vertical walls such as wood, stone, brick, masonite siding and the downspouts of gutters is no challenge. In addition, raccoons are highly skilled using their front feet-- which they use almost like hands, making them able to open latches, doors, and other unsecured points of entry. If the holes in the fencing are large enough, raccoons will often reach through and pull body parts off of a bird. They have a unique habit of dunking their food in water and/or dabbling in the water while consuming it.
PoultryDVM Predator Profile - The Raccoon

Appearance
Raccoons have a distinct appearance---noted for their gray fur, black mask, pointy snout and black nose. They have 4-7 black rings around their tail and dexterous front paws. Adult raccoons weigh between 10-30 lbs (4.5-13.6 kg) and grow to an average size of 12" (30.48 cm) tall and 24-38" (61-96.5 cm) in length. A raccoon's typical lifespan in the wild is 2-3 years.

Behavior
Raccoons prefer to stay out of sight, traveling in ditches, etc. They also travel at the edges of things (forest edges, stream edges, etc.).

Habitat
Raccoons are native to North America, however have been recently emerging in parts of Europe and Japan. Raccoons are highly adaptable and live in many types of habitats, however they prefer to live in wooded areas near streams, creeks, rivers, or other water sources. They will make their den out of hollow trees, ground burrows, brush piles, barns, abandoned buildings, dense clumps of cattails, haystacks, caves, rock crevices, muskrat houses, culverts, basements, and attics.

Other concerns
Raccoons are hosts to several deadly diseases---such as rabies and baylisascariasis. Rabies is a virus caused by bites from infected animals and Baylisascariasis is a parasitic disease caused by infection with the raccoon roundworm, Baylisascaris procyonis, which inhabits the intestinal tract of raccoons and produces thousands of eggs that are shed in the raccoon's feces.

How to Prevent Raccoon Attacks

Modification of environment : Make the property less attractive by removing potential den sites and/or food and water sources. Tie down garbage cans or purchase lids that are tight fitting. Remove any uneaten, leftover animal feed or any spilled and water sources at night. Keep yard clean and minimize potential hiding spots.

Move birds into a secure, indoor enclosure from the evening until the morning. Ensure that any latches require two steps to unlatch, as raccoons are extremely good at getting into things due to their very dextrous hands. Locking doors at night would also work. :

Eliminate entry points into bird enclosure : Raccoons can fit through surprisingly small spaces--anything larger than 3 inches (8 cm) needs to be sealed off with securely fastened hardware cloth

Fencing material : Hardware cloth fencing that is at least 1/2 in (1.27 cm) x 1/2 in (1.27 cm) and at least 16 gauge. Raccoons will chew through or pull apart any fencing wire that is of lower quality, such as poultry wire.

Hot wire fencing : With an existing fence: Use a pulsating high voltage, low amperage fence charger. Install a single electrified strand of wire 8 in (20.3 cm) above the ground and about 8 in (20.3 cm) out from the base of the fence. If no other fence is present

Eliminate tree limbs : Since raccoons are fantastic climbers, remove any tree limbs that are overhanging the poultry enclosure or that may allow them access to an attic or other shelter. Another option is to wrap electrified wire around the trunk of trees, using an electrical shock system.

Frightening

  • Lighting : Install motion activated flashing lights
  • Loud sounds : Install motion activated sound producing devices, play radios
  • Water : Install motion activated water squirting units
  • Ammonia : Put ammonia-soaked rags where the animal is known to rest.

References

  1. Tesky, Julie L. 1995. Procyon lotor. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2016, July 27].
  2. http://austinswildliferemoval.com/animal-database/raccoons/
  3. Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage. Editors, Scott E. Hygnstrom, Robert M. Timm, Gary E. Larson. 1994. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2 vols.
  4. http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/whos_that_digging_in_my_yard_skunks_raccoons_or_moles
  5. Standards for Ground Feeding Bird Sanctuaries. 2013. Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries
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  10. Extension.missouri.edu,. (2014). G9453 Managing Raccoon Problems in Missouri. University of Missouri Extension. Retrieved 17 December 2014, from http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G9453
  11. In.gov,. (2014). DNR: Raccoon. Retrieved 17 December 2014, from http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3364.htm
  12. Mdc.mo.gov,. (2014). Raccoon Control. Missouri Department of Conservation. Retrieved 17 December 2014, from http://mdc.mo.gov/your-property/problem-plants-and-animals/nuisance-native-wildlife/raccoon-control
  13. MSU Extension,. (2014). Reduce lawn and garden damage caused by moles, skunks and raccoons. Retrieved 17 December 2014, from http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/reduce_lawn_and_garden_damage_caused_by_moles_skunks_and_raccoons
  14. National Geographic,. (2014). Raccoons, Raccoon Pictures, Raccoon Facts - National Geographic. Retrieved 17 December 2014, from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/raccoon/
  15. Ipm.ucdavis.edu,. (2014). Raccoons Management Guidelines--UC IPM. Retrieved 18 December 2014, from http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74116.html
  16. http://www.naturetracking.com/raccoon-tracks
  17. http://unis.mcgill.ca/en/uw/mammals/raccoons.html
  18. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/bodyhorrors/2012/03/29/baylisascariasis/#.V4uObjU8rrc