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Recently the raccoons have been pulling up plants in my constant flood beds. They seem to mostly ignore the flood and drain beds though. After a few days of frustrated replanting I noticed that they seemed to be trying to dig out little pools in the gravel and were pulling plants out to create space. I've never noticed any signs of them actually eating anything and in fact saw lots of evidence that they were finding garden snails, crushing them and washing then in the beds.
So instead of replanting everything back into place I left some open areas right under the water inlets where they could use the shallow pools in the constantly flooded gravel to wash and eat. This compromise seems to have done the trick! No more daily replanting, no damaged plants and the raccoons take care of all the snails! Now if I could just get them to eat slugs...

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Caution! Racoons have the potential to put all sorts of disease and crap into your system. They've gotta be one of the filthiest animals, despite the fact that they wash their food. If you are eating anything you are growing or raising, I would get rid of those coons.
Thank you for your concern but your fearful reaction is based on a lack of understanding biology. A raccoon is not going to transmit any disease onto or into a plant. You should always wash your vegetables regardless but it annoys me to no end to hear this type of knee-jerk reaction to animals that people do not understand. Nature is dirty and has mechanisms for isolating disease, but unless you are swapping bodily fluids directly or via fleas or ticks you are not going to get sick from a raccoon. Maybe if they crapped on a leaf and I ate the leaf without washing it then I might get ill, but you are more likely to ingest harmful bacteria from your dog, cat or filthy child than from a raccoon washing snails in your system water!
Sorry to be so harsh but I really can't support an attitude that promotes the rote killing of any animal based on an incomplete and incorrect understanding of nature.

Well, it looks like you have enough information to handle yourself. (I obviously don't, since I spelled the word "raccoon" wrong :) ) And to be clear, I don't have a problem killing raccoons (they pull all sorts of crap around here, and have no respect for nature themselves. They once killed one of our chickens, ate only the head, and left the rest of the body to be wasted out in the yard. Sounds rather greedy to me, and a precious waste of poultry life), but I said to get rid of them, not kill them. I was actually just thinking of trapping, not whatever is done to them afterwards. I'm not one of those people that have to sterilize everything with a gallon of sanitizer yelling "God forbid I might get a germ inside me!" But having raccoons digging around in your system is a flagrant vector for disease, and something that could be prevented with some fence or something. And I wouldn't let my dog or cat dig around my ap system either. Anyway, I just wanted to make sure you weren't exposing yourself to something potentially dangerous due to ignorance, what you do with the information afterwards is your own ordeal. I don't think less of you for it :)

And here's an article about raccoon diseases, just in case there's one you might not be aware of:

http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/communicable/diseas...

Thanks. Yeah, I wasn't accusing you of suggesting I kill them, but rather that the general attitude you described tends to just give up on striking a balance and working with nature and instead opts for the destructive simple solution.

To be honest, there's no way to keep them out of our neighborhood of backyard gardens without building Fort Knox vaults around everything or leaving hungry dog loose outside at night. The alternative solution would be to change my constant flood beds to flood and drain.
scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2009/08/14/raccoon-latrines-not-in-my-bac/

Read the comments too, puts it into perspective. Basically, don't drink your system water and always practice safe/good hygiene and wash your hands after working in your ap garden and be sure to clean your veggies.

I think this is interesting. I have had 2 coons as pets.  They get into everything and make wonderful pets if trained right.  One of mine went everywhere I went or should I say would not let me out of his sight and followed me everywhere.  He got to be around 40 lbs and was the best guard coon anybody could ever have.  Nobody came into the house that he did not know.  40lbs of coon in the middle of your chest hissing and clawing is not a good thing.  lol  Sure do miss him.

They are definitely formidable critters! That's my point though, you aren't going to get sick just from being near one. You have to ingest the feces, urine, saliva or blood of one that is carrying a pathogen. Not all are infected. And they don't urinate or defecate just anywhere and certainly not where they eat and wash their food.

When you think about it, humans carry many more pathogens that are much more likely to cause disease and yet no one freaks out about getting infected from giving a tour of their garden to strangers! It's the over generalization of raccoons being pestilent varmints that is dangerous...dangerous for the raccoon. I'm not saying they can't be a real pain in the behind if you prefer to leave pet doors unlocked it garbage unsecured, but apart from being scary when threatened, pooping in your attic or killing your unprotected fish or chickens, they aren't a threat to your garden. Unless of course you have constant flood beds and don't leave them room to wash their snails! Lol!

With some adjustments on our part I think there are more effective ways to coexist with raccoons than declaring all out war. At least that's what I learned and wanted to share. If I decide some day to have chickens I'm sure I'll be challenged again to reconsider my current stance, but one things for sure, I'll keep in mind the needs and habits of the local wildlife that I share this area with before taking the first step.

Chickens - if you want them to live they must be locked up tight at night.  They're nice to have.

My neighbor feeds the coons and I trap them and shoot them.  I'm the only control on the population since they are never hit by cars in this low speed limit area. 

Coons dig and dig a lot in this neighborhood, looking for worms and grubs.

They carry rabies.  When I called the health dept, about it, they told me that 25% of those tested were positive.  They declined to test the one I called about because (1) it had been shot in the head and (2) it hadn't bitten anyone.  

My co-worker broke her leg fending one off - this was in her own yard.

To each his own but I don't want them around, especially in large numbers.  We're in the city - If this was a rural area bordering a sanctuary, that would be a different matter.

You had a domesticated raccoon? Now THAT'S pretty sweet!

Bob Terrell said:

I think this is interesting. I have had 2 coons as pets.  They get into everything and make wonderful pets if trained right.  One of mine went everywhere I went or should I say would not let me out of his sight and followed me everywhere.  He got to be around 40 lbs and was the best guard coon anybody could ever have.  Nobody came into the house that he did not know.  40lbs of coon in the middle of your chest hissing and clawing is not a good thing.  lol  Sure do miss him.

Amen to that :) We hired my cousin to catch a skunk that we had running around our house and he ended up catching like 6 or 7 raccoons instead.We live on an acre property in a suburban/rural hybrid property and I had no idea our nightlife was so active around here :) We're always careful to lock up our ladies at night, but you know, there's always that one time you goof it up...

George said:

Chickens - if you want them to live they must be locked up tight at night.  They're nice to have.

Yeah, been there.  It ain't pretty.

Alex Veidel said:

but you know, there's always that one time you goof it up...

George said:

Chickens - if you want them to live they must be locked up tight at night.  They're nice to have.

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