Awwwww… Raccoons are soooo cute.
UNTIL THEY EAT YOUR CHICKENS!!!
*sigh* Freakin’ wild animals.
Obviously, predator proofing your coop and run is very important. But protecting your chickens from raccoons is a little more difficult than protecting them from other predators.
They’re so damn SMART.
They’re also extra challenging because they can climb and dig very well, and their front paws are a lot like human hands, which is both creepy and cute.
So in this post, I talk about the ins and outs of how to protect chickens from raccoons.
1. Raccoon Proof Chicken Coop
The chicken coop is one of the easiest targets for raccoons because they know that it is a source of easy prey.
Hands down, my favorite way of keeping raccoons from digging under my chicken coop and run is definitely the coop apron. It’s so simple and cheap to make!
If you don’t know what a coop apron is, you definitely want to check my post on how to keep predators from digging under the chicken coop using a coop apron. It’s an alternative to burying fencing material into the ground 12 to 18 inches and it works great (and it’s easier to make).
You might also want to check out my most popular post: DIY Chicken Coop Plans (That Won’t Get Your Chickens Murdered at Night). I admit I go a little crazy in that post, but I’ve had so many neighbors lose their chickens to predators (especially raccoons) because their chicken coop wasn’t safe.
2. Hardware Cloth
One mistake beginner chicken keepers do all the time is using chicken wire thinking their chickens will be protected by it. But raccoons are notorious for killing the chickens they can grab through chicken wire.
Instead of chicken wire, you must use hardware cloth (my favorite is this one from Amazon) for your chicken coop and run.
Raccoons can also easily climb wood any chicken coop made out of wood. So make sure to check around doors, windows, vents, and the roof for any gaps. Cover any gaps and vents with hardware cloth.
And please note that raccoons can squeeze into very small holes. If the head of a raccoon can fit through a hole, they can squeeze their body through it.
I also personally don’t use chicken wire to protect the run because predators can easily tear through it. Chicken wire is more for keeping your chickens in than keeping predators out.
I really recommend you replace any chicken wire with 1/4 inch hardware cloth because it really works to keep a variety of predators out.
3. Raccoon Proof Locks
Raccoons have paws that work a lot like human hands and they’re very smart when it comes to opening your chicken coop door! So you’ll need a complicated lock, a padlock with a key, or a combination lock for your chicken coop.
My favorite lock to keep raccoons (and possibly humans) out of my chicken run is a weatherproof, titanium lock I got from Amazon and a hasp. Then, I have an automatic chicken door opener for my chicken coop that lets my hens out into their run (they free-range, but only when my dog is out to keep an eye on them).
4. Deterrent Lights
Placing deterrent lights around the chicken coop is one of the best ways to create a raccoon-free property. My favorite one is this light called PredatorGuard, which I got on Amazon.
PredatorGuard flashes a pair of red lights that animals think is a set of eyes. It scares them and makes them stay away from your yard.
I attached four of these little devices around my chicken coop, facing out in all four directions. And I couldn’t be more pleased with them. It really works!
PredatorGuard also scares deer, wolves, coyotes, foxes, skunks, and bears.
5. Stop Feeding Them
Another easy way to discourage raccoons from visiting your yard is to stop giving them food (intentionally or accidentally).
- Stop raccoons from invading your garbage bins by using a bin strap. Even when tipped over, the garbage bin’s lid stays in place.
- Raccoons will eat any food left out at night, including chicken feed. Remove all chicken feed and store it in a steel container (my favorite is this one because it also keeps rats from chewing through them).
- Raccoons will also use your chickens’ waterer to wash their food. To make sure your yard and coop is a less attractive place for raccoons, dump out any source of water.
- Make sure to collect all eggs in the coop and surrounding areas. Be especially careful to remove all eggs before nighttime.
- If you have fruit trees, nut trees, or berry bushes on your property, check for and pick up ripe and fallen fruit. Raccoons love these treats!
6. Cold Seasons
In the fall, raccoons are especially hungry at this time because they need extra calories to fatten up and prepare for the upcoming cold temperatures. So, they become a bigger problem for your chickens.
This is the perfect time for you to check your coop and run for any gaps.
You should also wait until later in the morning to let the chickens out. Raccoons and other predators might still be hunting early in the morning. You should also go to the chicken coop earlier in the evenings before the chickens settle into their coop for the night.
7. A Clean Yard
Most predators are nervous about crossing a yard with little to no place to hide. So it’s a good idea to leave the area around your chicken coop free of bushes, trees, or anything raccoons can hide behind or under.
Raccoons are also less likely to try to dig under coops, try to unlock doors, or try to break through a fence when they have to be in the open.
8. Guard Dog
Because I live in a secluded area with many predators, my chickens only free-range when my dog is with them during the day. Other than that, my chickens stay in their very large run or they’re locked up in their coop at night.
Dogs can be some of the best protectors against raccoons. Even the scent of a dog is very frightening to most predators, so they will likely leave your chickens alone.
However, there’s a potential problem with having a guard dog. Some dogs are very playful. Some might want to chase the chickens around. By doing this, they can stress the chickens or accidentally kill them.
So, if you get a dog, be sure to supervise them at first. Make sure to correct your dog any time it seems to be disturbing your chickens.
If you’re thinking about getting a guard dog, keep in mind that dogs usually make better protectors if they were raised around chickens since they were puppies.
9. Raccoon Deterrent
Raccoons don’t like the scent of ammonia (and neither do most humans). Placing ammonia-soaked rags around the edges of your yard can help deter raccoons from coming into the yard, but it might irritate you and the neighbors as well.
I personally do not recommend this way of preventing raccoons from coming into your yard. Yuck.
If everything else has failed, you might also be able to humanely trap a raccoon. Just make sure to do your research first because different states have different laws about trapping wildlife! In some states, it’s very illegal to trap and relocate a raccoon.
If trapping and relocating wildlife is illegal in your state, my recommendation is to contact a wildlife organization (such as wildlife rescue or animal control) to see what your options are at this point.
If you do decide to trap a raccoon, you can throw marshmallows into the back of a humane live animal trap, like these ones on Amazon, and smear peanut butter all over and under the trip plate.
And please make sure to visit the trap often! You don’t want to make a trapped animal suffer in harsh conditions, like being in the hot sun for too long without water.
That’s it! I hope this post about how to protect chickens from raccoons helped you out!