Troubleshooting Critters

Stop Raccoon Raids

If you wake up to find your feeders empty, on the ground or even destroyed, blame the night shift. Yep, you’ve got raccoons.

A raccoon with two paws on a deck

Know Your Enemy

Although they’re often thought to be close relatives to weasels, raccoons are more closely related to pandas. They sleep in dens during the day and forage at night. Summer finds raccoons devouring copious amounts of food to build a thick fat layer over their entire body, even their tails. Each winter, raccoons primarily stay in their dens and sleep, but they don’t hibernate—when temps are above 28˚F, they’ll come out and forage for food. By spring they weigh about half the amount they did the previous autumn.

Formidable Opponents

These sneaky, masked night invaders make formidable opponents to backyard birders. They have excellent night vision, sensitive hearing and dexterous, five-fingered forepaws that can handle, rub and manipulate everything that interests them. They can unscrew, open and unhook just about anything that you hang within their reach. Raccoons can climb any pole larger than ¼” diameter, drop from 35–40 ft. heights unharmed and sprint at speeds of up to 15 mph.

Feeder-Saving Strategies

  • Place a large, 28″ cylindrical baffle on your pole system. When the baffle is mounted at least 4–5 ft. from the ground, the raccoons cannot climb up the pole to reach your feeders. Make sure the pole is positioned away from trees and over-hanging branches!
  • Secure hanging deck feeders to deck poles using a snap lock or cable ties. This will prevent raccoons from snatching feeders from their hangers. However, it won’t stop them from shaking your feeders to get spilled seed. The best solution is to bring these feeders inside or lock them in a shed at night.
  • Consider placing feeders away from trees. There’s no real way to protect feeders hanging in trees from raccoons. You can make it more difficult for raccoons to remove feeders by trading carabiners for your S hooks. Still, the best advice is to bring these feeders in at night. ■
Torpedo style baffle
A cylindrical baffle