We have had damage like that shown on the picture on the left in our lawn. Our lawn has been dug up during the evening and at night since raccoons are generally nocturnal. In fact it got so bad that they would dig up the lawn to find grubs and earth worms, then carry them over to our pool and wash the food off in the pool before eating whatever they had found. There are really two problems – the first is that we have grubs in the lawn which eat the roots of the lawn and secondly the raccoons digging up the lawn.
The dirt and mess left on the steps of our pool was disgusting and we really had a difficult time cleaning this up the next day. Our next post which will be available in two weeks will cover “How to get rid of raccoons”, will be of interest to those people who have similar problems to ourselves. So stay tuned.
In the mean time, I wanted to find out what their eating habits were so that I could possibly use this information to help control the raccoons in our area. We have made quite a few posts about how to remove raccoons from your attic in a safe manner and keep them out. Refer to some of our earlier posts about these subjects.
What are Raccoon Eating Habits?
Urban and suburban raccoons will eat just about anything available that falls into the plant area, birds, fish, small animals and leftovers from your meals which get thrown out in the garbage. From some of the sources we looked at they eat invertebrates, plant material and vertebrates. These consist of nuts, berries, all kinds of fruit, fish, crustaceans, grubs, small birds, small mammals, insects, worms, and garbage as mentioned.
It is so bad in our area that we cannot put the garbage out the night before, or the raccoons will get into it and scatter the garbage all over the street. What a mess they make. during the rest of the week, they are looking for some of the food sources previously mentioned.
If you have grubs in your lawn, the raccoons will find them. This is the reason the lawn has been dug up in the picture above. There are chemicals that can get rid of the grubs which removes the food source for the raccoons and by the way ensures that your lawn will be more healthy. The grubs like to eat the roots of the grass which of course will kill the grass as well. These grubs are white and about the size of your little finger. They provide lots of protein and the raccoons love them.
What do Raccoons eat in the Winter Time
Raccoons will build up weight and fat during the fall when food is more plentiful from the many nuts that are available. They love acorns and walnuts which provide lots of calories and will fill up on these to put on weight. If you suspect there are raccoons in the area and you want to dissuade them from spending time in your yard, pick up the nuts so that there is no food source for the raccoons.
Raccoons will go into what is called winter rest, which is not full hibernation during the winter in colder climates. This reduces their activity drastically and lowers their metabolism as well so that the fat built up in the fall will help them last through the winter. However if they think there is a food source available e.g. your garbage, they will be out to sample every garbage day unless there is a tremendous amount of snow.
Since winter rest is not hibernation, they can quickly rouse themselves and go out of their dens to seek food sources that might be available and also when the snow melts or there are warmer days in the winter time.
The best way to avoid raccoons in your area is to remove all possible food sources. Fruit, nuts such as acorns and walnuts, grubs in your lawn and lock up your garbage. If you must keep it outside or put it out the night before, use a garbage container that is animal proof, particularly raccoon proof. If there are no food sources, they simply will not waste their time visiting your property.
Tricks such as loud noises, lights, even chasing them simply does not work. They are used to living with humans and really are not afraid of us, although they will be cautious around us. You can put your dog out at night, however he may keep you awake as these nocturnal visitors come to visit. the best approach by far is to remove all potential sources of food and protect your home as well in the manner we have outlined in