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Friday, July 30, 2010

Rascally Raccoons . . .

The Masked Marauding Pond Wrecker - That Rascally Raccoon!
Meet my nemesis.  Cute, isn't he?  Now, I want you to know that I am an animal lover.  Always have been, always will be.  Heck, I won't even eat an animal.  But . . .  honestly, this guy is severely testing my limits.  His (or her? ? ?) name is Pond Wrecker (PW).  I can't tell you how many times he has vandalized my pond.  Now I really, really don't mind sharing what I have with the wildlife, but enough is enough!  I live in an urban area and wildlife is kind of a novelty.  I embrace and welcome as wide a diversity of wildlife visiting my little corner of the world as I possibly can.  I actually don't feel I get enough, though one of these days I am going to start keeping track of just how many different kinds of "friends" do show up.

So, initially, I thought it was kind of cool to see the little critters around.  I never fed them, just appreciated that they were here.  That is, until I put all the work into building a teeny pond for my patio (building the patio is a whole 'nother story I'll tell you about someday  :-)   ).  Granted my pond is just a little 50 gallon pre-formed plastic doo-hickey.  But, it was a lot of work digging the spot, putting the sand in around the sides and getting it settled just right, etc. . .  So, the first time I went out there and saw my little pond emptied out and floating in the hole it was supposed to be occupying, I was a tad bit irritated, to say the least, but I didn't realize at the time exactly what had happened.  But, you see, ol' PW had so much fun splashing around in that little bit of water that he had knocked the fountain right out of the pond and it spent all night pumping all the water out of the pond.  It lay there pumping nothing but air while all that water just flowed right back under the pond liner and turned it into a sad little forlorn-looking boat bobbing along.

So, once all the water soaked back into the ground, down on my hands and knees I went.  I patiently patted the sand back into place and tugged and pushed and cajoled the little pond back into it's spot and got it all cleaned up and leveled again, and everything put back in order and filled it up.  It took hours to get it all finished, and, oh, my aching back by the time I was done.

Two days later, I go out to see the pond all torn up . . . again.  The waterlillies, which had already taken a beating from the first visit were nearly non-existent.  The basket they were planted in had been turned upside down.  There were little bits of torn leaves and stems floating everywhere.  The other basket of water plants was knocked off it's perch.  This time the fountain had been unceremoniously dumped into the middle of the pond.  So, I was glad that at least the water hadn't been drained out leaving the pump to burn itself up, but, when I tried to clean the muck out of the bottom . . . well, let's just say it turned out that the water was not my friend after all.  So . . . then I had to drain the pond myself to clean the bottom . . . . back on my hands and knees forever, reaching down into the pond to scoop the water out as the pump is sooooo slow.  Filling a bucket and then hauling it away from the area to pour over some plants far away so it doesn't fill the hole preventing me from putting the liner back in place.

Finally, everything is set right, the pond filled again and if I thought my back was aching from the first go round . . . that was nothing to what I was going through the 2nd time.  I thought I was ready for a stretcher.  (By the time I got to the 10th or 12th round, I couldn't move for days . . .)

After a few more bouts of these types of go-rounds I decided I needed to do something about this varmint once and for all.  All of the sudden, he really wasn't so cute anymore.  I started having some very dark thoughts about how I could negatively impact his future.  I began searching remedies on the web.  I could find nothing to give me any hope.  "Pepper" type sprays for animals, motion sensor water sprays, and all sorts of things that just didn't seem like they were going to offer any real practical solution for my needs.  Especially after reading the reviews on some of the products.  Seems raccoons are an extremely cunning and adaptable enemy.

So, I get this idea to build a cage.  No, . . . not for PW, for my pond.  It sounded like a good idea.  And, if I were at all skilled with building things, it might have been a great idea.  But, as it is, it kinda looks like . . . well, let's just say it just didn't come out looking very good at all.  I just took a bunch of 2x2s and cut them to size and built a box-type frame and covered it with chicken wire.  Then to keep the wire along the ground between the legs straight and not so easy to bend to slip under, I wove some long garden stakes through the wire.  Not at all attractive, BUT . . . it did cover the pond.   And, I thought if it worked, someday I would try to make something that would be a little less of an eyesore.  After all, what good is having a pond to enjoy if it looks like a bedraggled chicken coop? ? ?

Well, about the time I was congratulating myself on my bright idea . . . I went out and discovered that ol' rascal PW had returned again and had managed to pull up one of the sides enough he could squeeze through and had, once again, destroyed the pond.  So, back on my hands and knees . . . again . . . and back to the drawing board, frothing at the mouth and mumbling some not so kind wishes for the little darlin' and feeling more like the hunchback of Notre Dame than ever.

Looking around for more inspiration on ways to solve this problem once and for all, I found these cute little metal garden edgers that look like little mini fences.  So I got enough of them to put them up around the pond cage.  But, he just pulled them away and got in under the cage . . . . . . . . . . . . . again.    
A caged pond with decorative fenced edging peeking out at the
bottom of the frame - almost raccoon proof!
So, someone suggested a Havahart trap and I was just hoping that if I did have luck catching him, it would be on a night where I had the next day off so I could drive him to a nice country location away from all these nasty cars . . . . and, . . . well . . . my pond.  But, as luck would have it, that rascally raccoon just wouldn't go into that trap, no matter what I put in it as bait.  No, he was much too smart to go through the door, he simply reached through the side and pulled the goodies out from there.  The only thing I caught was a baby 'posum, and that was about it.  (I felt really bad about his forced separation from his mommy and let him go to go try to find mama.  Hope you found her little guy! ! ! !)  After that, the trap just took up space along side the growing fortress as an additional barrier to try to prevent him from getting in.

Late one night as I was getting ready for bed, I heard a slight noise on that side of the house that made me stop for a moment.  I almost passed it off as my imagination, but something told me to go have a look see.  I popped my head out the door and saw his little face peeping out at me from the pond.  And off I went, screeching down the steps in my pajamas, hair a flyin' and arms akimbo, and just as quickly, he slipped under the cage and took off down the street, with me chasing wildly after him, threatening him to within an inch of his life.  If any of the neighbors were up and had witnessed this bizarre event, I'm sure they would have fallen asleep with tears of laughter on their faces.  I don't really know what I would have done if I'd actually caught up with him, but I chased him for a bit, hoping at the very least the fear of me chasing him again would stop him from returning.  (But, I'll bet the neighbors put more food out for him on purpose after that to try to get a bit more free entertainment out of it!  hmmmmmm, perhaps I should start scanning those YouTube posts a little more closely!)

If all he did was get in, splash around a little, and then get back out, there wouldn't be a problem, I would be more than happy to share and would even take some delight in being able to contribute to his pleasure.  I'd probably go around bragging about MY raccoon.  But, alas, that is not what he does!  He creates a HUGE amount of work, and usually at a time I am overloaded with other things that need immediate attention as well, and it takes hours to repair the damages he makes in just a few minutes.

Anyway, by now, my back is begging me to just give up and fill the pond back in.  But, no . . .  I   AM   GOING   TO   WIN   this battle.  So, now, in addition to the cage and the fencing . . . . I have added more garden stakes woven down through the chicken wire and down through the metal fencing and into the ground about every 6 to 8 inches or so.

It has been a few years now since the battles first began and I thought I had finally won . . . but a couple of weeks ago . . . I went out to find the pond destroyed . . . yet again . . . (sigh).  I was stumped at how he had gotten in this time . . . and then I finally saw it . . . he had pulled a corner of the chicken wire right out of the nails in the wood.  What the heck? ? ? ?  Next thing you know he'll be coming in with some tin snips . . . .  So, just how big and strong has this guy gotten! ! ! ! !  Somebody must be feeding him some serious Wheaties! ! ! !      ;-)

So, what kind of raccoon wars have you had?  Did you win? ? ? ?  I'd love you hear your stories!


  1. well here it goes years ago an older couple in the town we grew up in had the most beautiful garden they kept rabbitts and other critters out by having the barber save all the hair from haircuts and lined the perimeter of the garden the scent of humans kept them out also go to farm or garden store and buy one oof those owl statues with a sensor for movement the head turns eyes light up and i believe it makes an owl sound most critters are not fond of owls ok hope it works

  2. Ours was a possum encounter!! One night there was a possom on our shed roof. My husband decided to chase him down with a broom. When he got out there the possum turned and ran towards him with his big teeth showing and growling!! Needless to say, my husband turned and ran to the house with his eyes big as saucers!!! He left the possum alone!!!

  3. Too funny! Thanks for sharing! I'll keep that in mind before I go trying to chase any possums down the street!