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Raccoons Vs. Turtles
updated: Jun 28, 2014, 10:55 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

Dear EdHat, The raccoons are slowly stealing my sanity. I live in Old Town Goleta, and I have several box turtles that I put in an enclosure in my yard during the day so they can get some sun. In the middle of my turtle pen is a 3" deep swimming hole with a few aquatic plants. Sometimes I toss in a couple of mosquito fish to keep the larvae at bay. There is nothing else in my yard that raccoons should find attractive, it is well-lit with zero cover and no sources of food. A couple of weeks ago the raccoons discovered my tiny turtle pond and killed the mosquito fish, dug through the rocks at the bottom, and killed all but one plant. They have returned several times to foul the water, so I stopped cleaning it. Last night there was an inch of smelly black water, and they came back to kill my one remaining pond plant.

Again, there is no food in my yard or near my house. There is no cover or places hide, no access under the house, and no fruit trees. The porch light is left on, and I have a dog who is going to spontaneously combust next time he sees them. I cannot think of a way to make my yard and pond less appealing without harming my turtles or dogs. I can't readily put a cover on my large and irregularly shaped planted turtle pen. Any ideas?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 531322P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 11:21 AM

Time to do away with that particular set up, obviously. A good solid fence, "planted" about 8" below the soil line and six feet high, would help. If you use cyclone/wire fencing, animals can climb up and over, no problem. Unless you want to install some kind of sporadic electro-shock system.

Raccoons are extremely dexterous. Those little fingers can undo locks and pull apart closed gates, no problem. Get some advice on how to raccoon -proof your enclosure. Ask SB Wildlife care or ART.

Raccoons have super sensitive paws, but the water makes them even more sensitive. People think raccoons are "washing" their food, but the coons are actually feeling what they're holding, helped out, as it were, by the water.

You have put something in your yard that is very attractive to these animals, especially during this time of drought. Lighting up the area will be no deterrent.

If you can't protect your plants and gambusia (mosquito fish), you are doomed to replacing plants and fish and suffering repeated cleanups of your pond.

Install a fence, don't ever leave your turtles out after dusk, and perhaps you will have more luck.

I applaud you for not wanting to harm the raccoons. They're just trying to make a living.


 COMMENT 531323P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 11:23 AM

oops. Meant to add, after "good solid fence" ----- planted with chicken wire, not wood, 8" below soil line. Wood below soil line not a good idea, as it will quickly rot away.


 COMMENT 531324 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 11:36 AM

Here is a simple fix that really works: We put nealy all all of our food scraps, plus our chicken, pork, fish, and steak bones in a shallow plastic container (we use a $4 dish basin) in the corner of our yard and let the raccoons "have at it." They leave our fish and turtles alone. We are happy, the raccoons are happy, the turtles and fish are EXTREMELY happy!! Once a week though you need to clean up the container and the immediate area because it gets messy and it smells a tad.


 COMMENT 531333 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 12:11 PM

Yeah, do what 324 said. We also live in OTG and have two ponds. Anything you can do to attract them to your neck of the woods would be greatly appreciated. Seriously though, try an airsoft gun (about 20 bucks at Kmart). Just plink a few rounds in their direction --don't hit 'em-- they seem to be familiar with the sound and take off pretty quick. Recently we've had a few visits but I'm leaving them alone because they haven't caused any damage. It's really dry out there.


 COMMENT 531362 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 02:18 PM

it is the water that they wantt, if you have the water in your yard, they will come to clean up their kills. If you dont want the raccoons, then get rid of the water.


 COMMENT 531363 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 02:19 PM

OP here. I rent so am fairly limited as to how much fencing I can build. The bottom is dig-proof but a 6' raccoon-proof perimeter is out of the question. The turtles always come inside before dark, and the dogs cleanup any leftover turtle food.

An airsoft gun sounds cathartic, but I've only caught them in the act the one time.

I've considered putting a bowl of water out for them at the edge of our lot, but they already ignore the other two bowls of clean water in the yard in favor of the pond. The attraction appears to be something to kill/destroy.

Is it legal to trap them? These are the first raccoons to enter the yard in the two years I've been keeping turtles. Perhaps if I get rid of the ones that know where the pond is, the others will continue to stay out?


 COMMENT 531395P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 04:34 PM

Live traps and relocate, with the help of Animal Control.

Or, try putting a giant stuffed lion, tiger or something similar, that will scare them off. I had a friend that put a giant tiger in their big tree to get rid of noisy birds (crows), and it worked.


 COMMENT 531417P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 05:45 PM

Animal Control will help save and relocate a wild animal you have illegally trapped, but only help trap feral cats. Generally they release trapped wild animals. Please talk to Wildlife Care Network and WILDES.


You are providing water, thank goodness. I see little solution beyond fencing it off, with a cover. Thank you for caring and not killing. I'd keep my pets (turtles or cats or dogs) safe and do what I could, but this is not easily solvable.

Maybe talk to landlord. Maybe animal people will volunteer to help you build a covered cage. But this is not a case in which your pets require one to live.


 COMMENT 531420P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 05:54 PM

"The attraction appears to be something to kill/destroy."

The "attraction" is natural raccoon behavior.

They may be bringing whatever they've found elsewhere for dinner to your water source.

No, it's not legal to trap wildlife, and if done, law requires they be released in very close proximity to where they were trapped, making it pointless. Trapping may also increase population, as the animals instinctively try to compensate for the removal, which would be perceived as a loss of population, aka death.

Thank you for providing water. Seems that letting your little pond get bone dry is the answer. Or give it over to the raccoons.

You could also call Steve at Eraticators. He's pro-animal.

Phone: 805-451-7287
Fax: 805-966-9161
E-Mail: onoarat@cox.net


 COMMENT 531427P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 07:12 PM

Raccoons do not set out to "destroy" anything. This indicates that they have malice aforethought or bad intentions, which of course they don't. They are just trying to find food.

If you trap any animal and ask Animal Control to relocate it, you are handing that animal a death sentence. Do you think Animal Control officers will drive out into the foothills or up The Pass or somewhere to "relocate" your trapped animal? Where do these relocated animals then find food and water? A little common sense goes a long way . . .

Plus, as 420P pointed out, any animals removed will soon be replaced by others. Trapping and killing is the wrong thing to do. You do realize that you are providing an attraction for them? It's entrapment. (Forgive the bad pun.)

Raccoons and other animals are having a really hard time of it now. Water/food is at a premium. As for "feeding" animals to keep them from your ponds----I never heard tell of such a thing. Read ANY pamphlet re: wildlife and the first rule is NO FEEDING.

You need to rethink your choice of box turtles as pets, or else keep them in an enclosed patio. Those turtles can be preyed upon by more than nocturnal animals . . .


 COMMENT 531439 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-28 08:55 PM

Air soft guns will not do anything. I've used small pellets and a sling shot, aiming for their butts, and all it did is hurt their feelings but they got over it and continued as if nothing happened.


 COMMENT 531461 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 07:08 AM

One bit of advice - Google 'raccoon roundworms' before you go out and clean up the messes. Positively frightening - and SB is one of the places in the country that has had a fatality from this disease. Not statistically probable, but nasty enough to really use proper precautions.


 COMMENT 531482P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 08:37 AM

You're out of luck -- sounds like "attractive nuisance" heaven to raccoons, such a great playground. Reconstruct indoors, with lots of full-spectrum lighting.


 COMMENT 531502P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 09:30 AM

Once raccoons discovered my fish pond the only solution that worked (and I tried it all including covers which they "destroyed") was an electric border wire which they had to surmount to get to the water. This resulted in my relaxing pond looking like a Stalag. I took away the wire when people were visiting but had to leave it otherwise. You can get an electric fence kit at animal feed stores. They don't kill.


 COMMENT 531503 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 09:36 AM

Additionally, once a food source has been discovered they will return again and again to re-investigate. It takes a while for them to stop coming even after the food source is long gone.


 COMMENT 531515 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 10:36 AM

We once kept a number of ducks in our mini-orchard. The raccoons discovered the ducks are fun to kill. They didn't eat the ducks, they just killed them. Ducks are not birds that you can collect at night, they roam but they do not roost. I do not find raccoons cute or friendly. They are wonton killers.


 COMMENT 531545P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 01:32 PM

I'm a wonton killer too! Mm mm good.


 COMMENT 531546P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 01:37 PM

"If you trap any animal and ask Animal Control to relocate it, you are handing that animal a death sentence. Do you think Animal Control officers will drive out into the foothills or up The Pass or somewhere to "relocate" your trapped animal?"

YES, 427, I do think, and know for a fact that they did and probably still do. Raccoons and possums that were illegally trapped were released. As were many snakes, including rattlers, when people freaked out and insisted they be retrieved, even gopher snakes. Better to do so than work with a hysterical person calling for help.

ART can back me up on this. I wish some employees would too.


 MOUNTAINMAN4865 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 01:42 PM

Our neighbor had a little fish pond in his yard, with a tiny electric wire around the perimeter and off the ground a few inches. We live in the mountains ("up the Pass") where everyone drops off their trapped raccoons. He never had a problem, although our tiny community rapidly was overtaken by hundreds of raccoons. (Ones that survive the initial territorial fights, live on to breed.)

Please, for the love of Pete, if you trap raccoons, don't bring them up to the mountains.


 COMMENT 531548P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 01:46 PM

Raccooon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) is in pet kinkajous, which of course should not be pets. This is years ago:

"Fewer than 25 cases of Baylisascaris disease have been documented in the United States. However, it is possible that some cases are incorrectly diagnosed as other infections or go undiagnosed. Cases that are diagnosed tend to be severe.
Cases have been reported in California, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. As of 2012, there were 16 published human neurological cases in the US; six of the infected persons died."

Raccoon latrine clean up:
(not loading for me)


 COMMENT 531550P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 01:50 PM

Mountain Man, as far as I know, only snakes were dropped off up the Pass. rodents/mammals stayed much closer to home.


 COMMENT 531558P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 01:59 PM

Sorry to hear it, 515. Too bad you didn't look closer at the bodies. "Hunting Behavior:
A raccoon that gets into your coop or run will normally kill multiple birds if they can get to them, and the bodies will usually be left where they were killed, rather than carried away. Raccoons won't eat the whole bird or even most of it: they will often just eat the contents of your birds' crops and occasionally some of the chest."
I love ducks, I'd be crushed, but such is nature. look up "do raccoons kill for fun" and it's "wanton."


 COMMENT 531565P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 02:16 PM

Fascinating. Not sure the link works, though



 COMMENT 531617P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-29 07:18 PM

550p- We have seen the county releasing raccoons up here, another neighbor was told by a pest control person that serves Montecito and Hope Ranch that they release raccoons up here on a regular basis. We had a raccoon get into our coop and kill 10 chickens in one night, the next night, my son went out with his friend and counted 10 on the ground and at least 7 in the tree. Dogs and neighbors have been attacked. Our population up here was totally outnumbered by about 5 to 1 raccoons to people. I haven't seen a possum in nearly 8 years. The territorial fights are horrific and deadly. Needless to say, neighbors have taken things in their own hands to try to rectify the complete imbalance.


 COMMENT 531658 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-30 07:20 AM

There was an injured raccoon on the westside and when we called CARE they told us the raccoon would have to be returned to where it was found after it was healed because it was illegal to transplant them into another environment for all of the reasons discussed above.

If Animal Control is doing this, they are not complying with the law.

"Trapping and relocating of wildlife is prohibited. Title 14 CCR Sect. 465.5 (1)"


 COMMENT 531711P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-30 10:53 AM

As I said, as far as I know, only a few snakes were transported to less populated areas. Regarding raccoon and possums, from what I know, animal control released them in the allowed perimeter, close to where they're trapped, against advice and against the law, by community members who then bring them to animal control in the trap. Snakes are rarely picked up because they're pretty hard to find or catch.


 COMMENT 531713P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-30 10:56 AM

thanks for the info, 617. I understand doing what you must do.


 COMMENT 531872P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-30 07:44 PM

I am with 515 on this. Raccoons are tremendously destructive, wanton killers of birds and smaller animals. And carriers of rabies, although I don't know that's so in this area.

It's not their "faults" -- too many people, including those who should know better, feed them so they become habituated to backyards and so forth.

In answer to the OP's question: it's true that the law is to release where found; it's also true you won't get much if any useful info from WILDES or SBWCN or probably ART on trapping raccoons. Some of the volunteers have been people who feed raccoons and rescue rats and help create the problem. (I've been a volunteer with WCN — it's very hard to draw the line....) I don't know about County Animal, whether they'll help - you can call them. Your best solution, imo, would be to do the trapping yourself, by buying Have-a-Hart trap and then releasing in, say, Montecito or Hope Ranch. You may have to do quite a few of these, but that way the animal will live.

If you don't want the hassle of live trapping, you can do a google search for "raccoons AND Santa Barbara" and you will find several pest control agencies; call and talk with them. Some will advise on how to pest-proof.....


 COMMENT 531873P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-30 07:48 PM

And the only thing a friend with ducks and chickens was able to do to protect her birds was construct serious wire cages for the night - and surround the duck pool with electric fencing. (872P)


 COMMENT 531898P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-30 10:58 PM

"If you don't want the hassle of live trapping, you can do a google search for "raccoons AND Santa Barbara" and you will find several pest control agencies; call and talk with them. Some will advise on how to pest-proof..... "

That is one low-key recommendation and implication, especially the dot dot dot ending! Best to contact someone who's a good shot. There are some really nasty trappers out there, one local in particular. Don't remember his name or know if he's still in business; can't find info online. Too bad that there's not even more constructive input here; of course they're all hiding out, especially municipal agencies. If I had 17 in my yard... And I'm pro-wildlife/raccoon.

Not even gonna ask if anyone in S. CA has cooked one, but they're popular in parts of the U.S. Google eating or cooking raccoon if curious.


 COMMENT 531900P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-06-30 11:26 PM

872 sorry if I didn't understand.
Of course there's no advice on trapping, it's not legal, as you probably know. I hear you on the fine line abut animal rescue. As horrible as people are, my few bucks go to humans. I don't have much money and know about no insurance. I don't want to see thousands go to a chihuaha with a busted knee when veterans are dying waiting for appointments.


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