Raccoons in the indoor ring: repellents?

Our indoor is pole barn construction. Raccoons have decided that the spaces between inner and outer walls are perfect for canoodling, arguing and raising families. Aside from the noise associated with that, they scurry in the rafters and sometimes enjoy popping their heads over the tops of the inner walls to watch us. Our horses find none of this amusing, and some of the young OTTBs quite panic about it.

We’ve tried to find their entryways, even going as far as to rat wire the soffits (which they keep pulling down). A couple of years ago I tossed bags of mothballs between the walls, and that seemed to help. But before I embark on doing that this year I thought I’d check in with the COTH geniuses to see if I’m missing something. In desperation, I’ve thought about asking a hunter to help out, but the lights and mirrors would be at risk, so not the best option. As far as I know Massachusetts doesn’t allow trapping and relocating wildlife, and I’m too soft hearted to take them for swimming lessons in the ocean. Any ideas?

Trap them, THEN call your farmer to dispatch.

Trapping/dispatching is really the only way. Once they have somewhere they use as a frequent traveling/hanging out location, it’s impossible to divert them. Relocating them is cruel (and illegal). The ones who have learned to use your place must be destroyed, and you must racoon proof the barn.

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I agree with the above post.

They have found a happy fun place to hang out. Why would they leave on their own?

Added bonus is I am sure there is food around to snack on (cat food, horse feed that is dropped).

Note also that if you have barn cats/barn dogs - racoons carry disease in their feces, and will ultimately cause you a large vet bill if your resident animals get in a tangle with them.

They’ve gotta go.

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Live trap. Canned cat food is great to tempt them in (keep your cats out of the arena while trapping).

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I’ve found marshmallows are the best for racoons.

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Thanks for the rapid responses! There is no cat/dog/horse feed anywhere near the indoor. It’s about 300 yds from the barn (it was built before we got here). Trapping with marshmallows sounds like a pretty good option, with cat or dog food as a back up plan.

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I agree with the others. There is no nice way to get rid of them permanently. You have to trap and shoot them. Keep all moving cage parts greased to move smoothly and FAST when sprung! Both baits mentioned work well for me, with dry cat food my usual choice. Bait the trap and prop the door open for a couple days to let them learn to LIKE the bait food sprinkled on cage floor. Make coons enter fully to reach the bait. ANOTHER good reason to add hardcloth wire on the sides, they cannot reach thru cage from the outside to get the bait food. Then set the trap to go off when entered, to catch them. Hope farmer friend will finish them off for you.

We had to cover the sides in 1/4 inch hardcloth wire to prevent them reaching out of the cage to free themselves!! I also suggest tying the cage so they cannot roll it over. Our old-style cage worked with gravity and sliding washers. Upside down slid washers up the wires and let the door open again! We also tie the trap so they cannot reach out the top of cage to grab things around them, trying to get free. A cage in the feed room had the trash pulled over, benches under buckets were really thrown about. A 40 lb Coon can wreak a lot of havoc!

Good luck catching them. There are lots of other places to live and I do not share mine. They made bad choices.

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I find that quite amusing (but wouldn’t if I was riding)

I used to live in an old trailer, the channels for the a/c were not all connected to the floor and I’d hear ‘tink tink tink’ and look at one of the registers to see a cute raccoon head peaking out. Quite funny, until it wasn’t :scream_cat::pouting_cat:🫣

Raccoons are cute until you see them moving with that roached back!

Or hear them growl when they’re cornered! Yikes! Mean buggers.

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Once you trap your current crew–exclude to prevent a new family from moving in. If you’re unsure what all that entails, hiring a wildlife exclusion expert is a worthwhile expense.

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My former place had a raccoon problem. Live traps with cat food bait routinely caught possums and the occasional skunk, but never a raccoon. Raccoons are canny little devils.

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I caught 3 in a row, then they got tricky and I had to get creative with baiting. They are extremely smart critters, that’s for sure.

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I’m struggling to picture the “problem area”, where they’re getting between the inner and outer wall. Do you mean like the kickwall and the exterior metal wall? If so, why not actually board over those gaps? Would be a super simple 1-weekend carpentry project.

Agree with everyone that trap+dispatch is the solution, but unless you also physically exclude them, you’ll just be creating room for new ones to move in. It’s a bit heartbreaking to have to dispatch problem wildlife so it’s worth going the extra mile to avoid them becoming a problem in the first place.

The mommas will be birthing starting in early March, so you need to evict them now and board over the gaps, or else wait til late summer so you’re not leaving helpless kits behind.

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Indoor is 168 x 36 feet. The exterior sheathing is wood, and the interior wall is ship lap pine that’s slightly angles for the first 4 feet off the ground (kickwall) and then extends clear up to the rafters (except for the windows. The rafters are at about 16 feet. A little more than a weekend project to board up the openings at the tops (at least for me) and lots of up and down the ladder. Maybe I can find some college students? And the thing is they can dig under the bottom edge of the walls from the outside and get in that way too, although we check it weekly and block off any entry points.

Some great ideas and I will try several of them. Thank you all.

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ah, ok, you got yourself a fancy one. LOL I was picturing the opening was at kickwall height.
I agree, carpentry at a 16ft working height is not for amateurs.

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Every time my kids set the groundhog trap with lucky charms or fruit, we end up catching a raccoon.

Only way is to catch and dispose.

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My old barn manager live trapped 19 in a span of 6 months. She did catch and release in isolated wooded areas as she was not the kind of person to shoot 19 fluffy animals. People swore that they were just coming back so then she started spray painting them before releasing.

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Installing an apron of hardware mesh around the bottom of the building will solve this problem, and also exclude rodents. It’ll be a job for a structure that size, but very worthwhile to do it and be done with this sort of thing.

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I really wish people would realize how cruel it is to release them. They’re very territorial - she cut them loose in a war zone where they have no food or water.

Plus, it’s illegal almost everywhere.

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