May 22nd, 2008
Rage Against the Raccoons

raccoon damage

The raccoons have been frolicking in the pond all week but this is the fourth day in a row that they’ve knocked over the pots and shredded plants. And that’s it. The net is going back on the pond. Sorry toads and frogs.

My primary concern is not the fish, it’s the plants. That one calla lily cost ten times more than all the cheap comet goldfish in my pond. The waterlily that Pam/Digging shared with me was just about to bloom. Now it’s partially torn from the pot and the bud has been bit in half. And the raccoons ripped through the canna leaves that the hail left undamaged.

raccoon damage
Shredded calla lily.

Ultimately, though, what I can’t put up with is the way the raccoons stir up the pond and turn the water all mucky. After we bought the bio/mechanical filter and the water cleared, we discovered how much we really enjoyed the water and being able to watch the fish in it. Now it’s murky and dank. If there are any fish left, I can’t see them. Sitting by the pond has lost its charm.

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20 Responses to post “Rage Against the Raccoons”

  1. From Annie in Austin:

    The winds and weather were mischievous in many Austin gardens, MSS – but this destruction seems so personal.

    Did you leave the price tag on the plant? I swear the squirrels also choose their targets according to cost or rarity.

    I hope the net will work!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  2. From Frances:

    Hi MSS, that is very bad of those beasties. Bring on the netting! How else can you keep them out? We had a big raccoon problem in out northeast TN house. They would enter the garage through the cat doorm, eat the cat food, and killed a new litter of kittens in their cardboard box. Not our favorite animals.

  3. From our friend Ben in Pennsylvania:

    Grrrrrr!!!! I can feel your pain. For the past five years at least, one brazen raccoon has made Hawk’s Haven a spring stopover on his way to wherever. For several weeks, he comes up on the deck and decimates the container water garden’s fish and plant population, meanwhile eating the outdoor cats’ food and generally terrorizing them. Then he’s gone as suddenly as he came. This year I finally switched to comets, too, just in case. I wish I felt confident that he’d somehow missed us this time, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Grrrr…. Hope that netting does the trick for you!

  4. From Gail:

    MSS, I am so sorry…I would be enraged myself.
    Terrible destruction….I feel bad that your enjoyment of your pond has been diminished even for a little while.


  5. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    As with my weevil battle, sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. You’re right about those plants being expensive. Water lilies alone can cost $20 or $30. Yours was a passalong, but still—it’s the principle of the thing, right? 🙂

  6. From Carol, May Dreams Gardens:

    We all feel that anger at times. The enemy that comes in the night and wrecks everything. Reminds me I need to go check to see what the rabbit has eaten today…

    I have a co-worker who lives sort of out in the country and she sits at the open window and shoots the raccoons that come up toward her house. But she lives in the country and can shoot off guns. Not so those of us who are urban or suburban.

  7. From Diana - Austin:

    MSS – I’m sorry. Those raccoons are such pests. And isn’t it weird how they go for your most prized possessions. That reminds me – I’ve gotta go to the window and see where the squirrels, bunnies and deer are tonight! Maybe the net will frustrate them and they will go bother someone else for a while!

  8. From Amy:

    Oh no, this is terrible! I’ve never seen a raccoon, but I’ve heard stories from my husband (he grew up in an area with raccoon problems). We had a small motion sensing alarm to take care of a bear problem in our backyard. I wonder if something like that would help with the raccoons?

  9. From mss @ Zanthan Gardens:

    Hi, all. I feel better now–back to my old, shaking-fist-in-the-air defiant self and feeling a mite embarrassed for having lost it yesterday. I don’t like to waste your time with my rants. Chalk up my bad mood to a combination of last week’s storm, the record-breaking heat, and the feeling that summer is looming over me before I have a chance to get the garden ready for the worst. I appreciate all your kind words. It’s a comfort to know people who *understand*. I feel part of a big, supportive community. Friends in need are friends indeed!

  10. From Mr. McGregor's Daughter (Chicagoland):

    Hey rant all you want! Those raccoons can do some serious damage. I think I will forego any ideas of a pond after seeing your destruction. I’ve had raccoons in my attic, & I hear them every night on the roof, so I know they would love to play in a pond. Although it wasn’t desctructive, they did something really disgusting in my garden. They left the legs of a toad on my swing. Could they’ve just have eaten it all?

    Ugh. — mss

  11. From Karen, Savannah:

    Yes, it is ROTTEN to feel summer looming when you haven’t done half of what you hoped to get done.

    How deep is your pond? I can’t keep anything in a pot on my ledge in the pond either. If it’s not the raccoons, the herons knock them over. So everything is “planted,” which means I put it on the bottom of the pond with a brick over its roots to hold it down. Then there isn’t so much soil to make the water murky.

    Much sympathy. Ponds have their own irritating problems.

    So I’m learning. Well, I joined the local pond society because I really know nothing about ponds. Currently, I don’t have very many plants so that probably contributes to my problems. And the fact that the pond wasn’t dug out deeply enough. It’s just the right depth for raccoons who don’t like to swim–about a foot deep. — mss

  12. From Angelina:

    Raccoons and gardens don’t mix. Now I have to say that Raccoons and ponds don’t mix either. What a bummer. Especially about the shredded plants!

  13. From Annie in Austin:

    MSS, I ran across a suggestion that raccoons hate the prickly stems of large squash plants – think planting pumpkins and zucchini around the pond would discourage them?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    It might work during the summer but what about the rest of the year? We have a plan. To be continued…

  14. From Bob Pool:

    Your only recourse is to trap them in a live trap.[does not harm them in any way] Take them out a ways into the country and let them go. Move them in the morning so they can find some cool cover before the heat comes on. Yeah, I have had coon problems before. But it isnt all the coons in your area, just a brazen few. Believe me you will have to move them.

  15. From cindee:

    grrr those raccoons. I had a problem with them too. Although they are cute they are so destructive!!! They messed up my ponds and ate all my fish)-: I won’t mention what happened to the raccoon. But he is gone forever.

  16. From Hilary McDaniel:

    I just caught Mr.Raccoon in a Havaheart cage. I left for work and asked my DH to “take him for a ride”. My dear “DH” took him all the way to the back of the property and told him to “SHOO”. Leave it to a man to do that. I told him his “buns” would be mincemeat if that darned raccoon came back.
    UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate those critters. Yes I know, the babies are “precious”……

  17. From brenda from brooklyn:

    I have a house behind me that has raccoons in there attic I found them last night they climbed over to my yard and was in my pool cover playing in the water. What to do?

  18. From Julie in Los Angeles:

    I feel your pain – I gave up on the pond – the “mapoches” beat me. I did learn that making it deep enough is important, and that sprays containing hot pepper work sort of. And that you can spend a lot of money on mechanical devices that will scare them away for a minute or two. Our Los Angeles neighborhood is infested with raccoons, skunks, possums and now foxes. And the crazy cat lady next door sneaks to the park at 4:30 in the morning and puts out cat food for them. sigh.

  19. From Judy in central Austin:

    A mama coon and 4 half-grown babies are living under my back deck. The severe drought must have them half-starved, as they are out scavaging even in daylight! My problem: I feed 3 feral (spayed!) cats and have to stand guard with a Super-soaker;even then I battle mama coon. I’ve tried babcat urine with no apparent luck. Advice?

  20. From Mary in South Austin:

    The coons have been trashing my back porch for over a week – everynight they come up and wreak havoc – they have climbed all over my potting bench and thrown everything down, collected seeds are scattered across the porch, vines torn from the trellises, rainwater tubs pulled over, plants dug up out of pots… but a couple of nights ago they declared war. Or I did. Following the trail of ripped up filter catridges for my quarantine tank (aquarium), I looked up to see my back porch couch covered with copious quantities (think a couple of Great Danes) of feces. Fortunately I keep a cover on the couch when not in active use, but they also tracked it all over some chair/chaise cushions I had on top. Bad enough they have been using my potted plants for litterboxes, but now they are bringing disease to my living areas. I am seriously fed up. Anyway, thanks -it helps to vent! Mary