Three weeks ago a raccoon started to visit Agnes' parents' house in the middle of the night. It would dig up the garden and overturn plants. We assume it was digging for worms and grubs to eat. It would come almost every night between 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning, and it was causing all sorts of trouble in the garden.
Agnes' parents started trying different things. The ASPCA would not help unless the raccoon was first trapped. Agnes' parents rented a trap and put in some hotdogs as bait. Don't worry, it wasn't one of those traps with the big teeth. It's a cage with a door that only opens in one direction. The next morning, they found the raccoon had overturned the cage, causing the hotdogs to fall out.
Next they tried putting chicken wire around the garden. It worked for one night, but then the raccoon found that it could just push its way through. Attaching a car battery to the chicken wire didn't seem to supply enough voltage to concern the raccoon.
Rat poison was the next attempted solution. Agnes' dad put out several pieces of hotdog, tainted with rat poison. The raccoon ate them, but apparently wasn't bothered by it. It must be the huge difference in size between a raccoon and a rat. By this point, several people had seen the raccoon -- it was pretty large.
After all of these hotdogs, we were starting to feel like we were just feeding the raccoon. Finally, we decided to brainstorm a list of possible solutions before spending money on anything else. Here's what we came up with:
- Put something shiny like aluminum into a paw-sized hole with sharp nails set inward. A curious raccoon will grab the aluminum, and find that it's paw is too large to pull out against the nails while making a fist (credit goes to Where the Red Fern Grows where this is how Billy catches his first raccoon). No one seemed to believe this idea would work. Anyway, no one was sure how big a raccoon paw is either.
- Attach the sprinkler system to a motion detector to spray the raccoon when it comes by at night. This option seemed expensive since the motion detectors would have to cover the entire backyard. It also disrupts normal use of the backyard.
- Attach ultra-sound emitters to motion detectors. This would probably bother the neighbor's dog.
- Buy a dog. The dog would probably also dig up the garden.
- Put out a food dish so the raccoon leaves the garden alone. The risk is that the raccoon will start to expect food to be in the backyard every night.
- Dig a moat (we were getting desperate).
Finally, we decided to look online for a solution. We found many of the above suggestions while searching on Google, but one new suggestion caught our eye: "Shake-Away" concentrated powdered coyote urine. Coyotes are raccoon's natural predator, and the smell of coyote urine will keep a raccoon away from the area. According to their website, the urine is collected from game farms, zoos, and animal preserves through floor collection drains. The coyotes are treated very humanely, and the revenue provides much needed income to help care for the animals. We placed an order, and it arrived in a week.
Unfortunately, though the coyote urine was advertised to be relatively odorless, it wasn't. It did work though. The raccoon hasn't been back. So, the urine worked, and all we had to deal with is a bit of smell in the backyard for a little while.