How to Identify Raccoon Scat, How to Avoid It


Advertisement

If you have spent any amount of time in the outdoors, odds are you have encountered animal droppings in the woods. After all, where else are the critters going to go? Now, most people do not go around looking for or picking up droppings, for obvious reasons. However, sometimes you can accidentally step in or touch the stuff if you are not paying attention. For some species, that could potentially be dangerous. It turns out raccoons can pose more threats to humans than just tearing up your garbage, as their droppings can pose some significant health risks.

Fortunately, there are safe ways to clean up your property if it's somehow become a latrine for raccoons.

What does raccoon scat look like?

Raccoon Scat

Wikimedia Commons: Jomegat

Even though you probably didn't even realize what you were looking at, odds are you've seen raccoon feces before. If you have luck as bad as mine, it's just as likely that you've accidentally stuck your hands in some while crossing a log while hiking, climbing a tree to place a deer stand, or working with a pile of wood. Gross, right? Most raccoon droppings are tubular in shape and get to be around 3 inches long at the largest. However, it can also be quite clumpy in appearance and sticky to the touch, donning somewhat of a dark-black color, but it can also appear brown.

Depending on where you live, there are other telltale signs. I have seen the scat in other states while hiking or camping where they almost resembled dog turds. Here in Michigan, I have noticed that most of the time it's going to have undigested food in it like in the photo above. Little pieces of crayfish, berries or stuff they scavenged from human discards, such as dumpsters or trash cans. It almost gives the droppings a speckled appearance in some cases.

Advertisement

When comparing raccoon poop to other types of animal scat, we would be willing to say it is some of the nastiest you can stumble across in the woods. Oh, and where you find one pile of it, there is likely to be others. Raccoons effectively designate different areas as public restrooms. Biologists call them raccoon latrines.

In the wild, latrine sites are usually on logs, stumps, and rocks, which is why you should always be wary where you sit when taking a break while hiking. However, they also sometimes leave droppings at the bases and crotches of trees.

Every so often, raccoons will decide to use human habitation areas as a toilet, most commonly crawl spaces, haylofts, decks, roofs, or your kid's swing set. In actuality, this is the sign of what you could effectively call an infestation, and one you should take seriously.

Why is raccoon scat dangerous?

Advertisement

As disgusting as raccoon poop is, there is a good reason to be wary of it in your outdoor adventures beyond the obvious reasons. Most notably, though, it has the possibility of spreading disease or parasites. The biggest concern is raccoon roundworm, an intestinal parasite otherwise known as baylisascaris procyonis, as roundworm eggs are transmitted through feces quite regularly. The eggs do have to be ingested orally to be passed.

You might be thinking: "Who is going to eat raccoon poop?" Well, no one is going to do it willingly or on purpose. The biggest group at risk here is small children, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Imagine a raccoon defecates in a small child's sandbox or on their swing set. If they unknowingly touch the stuff or soil that has been contaminated by an infected raccoon and then put their fingers in their mouth, they could get the roundworm. Few small children have a strong grasp of how germs and diseases are transmitted.

Fortunately, raccoon roundworm infections are extremely rare. That does not mean you should let your guard down about raccoons in your yard, though, as they can cause countless health issues, including neurological disorders, vision loss and even death in extreme cases. Who knew that raccoon droppings could cause so many health issues?

Additionally, your pets won't make sanitation a priority, either, and they will go as far as eating scat. If you're unfortunate enough to find yourself paying for a dreaded roundworm case, it's likely going to cost you a small fortune in vet bills, and it could be fatal for your pet.

Advertisement

How do I prevent raccoons from entering and pooping in my yard?

The easiest way to do this is to simply make things unappealing for them. Find a way to secure your trash cans overnight, maybe by locking them up in the garage. If that is not an option, look at wildlife-proof trash cans. Do not leave any pet food outside overnight. If you have a garden, it is probably best to fence it. You do not want them raiding your vegetables anyway. If you have barns, sheds or other structures on your property, make sure they are adequately sealed against wildlife. Board up any crawl spaces or other areas where raccoons might decide to build a den like the underside of a porch. If you do find scat from a raccoon, clean it up using disposable gloves, rubber boots, and other protective equipment. Put the scat in a plastic bag to seal it before discarding it. Afterwards, hit the area with hot soapy water. The CDC says most household disinfectants will not kill the eggs or larvae of roundworm, but heat will. For outdoor spaces, the CDC recommends using boiling water or a propane torch.

There are also plenty of wild animal deterring chemicals available at almost any Lowe's or Home Depot that will push those critters out of your yard and back into the wild. We have also heard of home remedies like spraying vinegar, dish soap and ammonia around the yard. Another method we have heard about involves making a deterrent spray from cayenne pepper and water, which is a helpful way to protect your vegetable garden without spraying a bunch of chemicals everywhere. The raccoons will not appreciate the spicy taste!

In the end, if those methods do not work, it might be time to call in the wildlife control pros to forcibly do a raccoon removal. Fortunately, it usually does not take much to scare raccoons from your yard and home permanently and you will have fewer headaches from pest animals as a result.

Advertisement

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

READ MORE: 10 OF THE BEST .22 RIFLES ON THE MARKET FOR PLINKING AND HUNTING FUN

Related Videos