More often than not, you’ll often notice a few fake owls or scarecrows at golf courses, backyards, sports fields, and more. Just what the heck are they placed out there for?
Humans and owls are predators of raccoons. You can take advantage of this predator-prey relationship by placing a fake owl or scarecrow in your yard, which will frighten raccoons from wanting to visit your property.
Before jumping into it, let’s first understand the science behind using fake owls and scarecrows in deterring pests, including raccoons. Let’s get to it!
Fake Owls and Scarecrows: Why They’ll Deter Raccoons
Traditionally, farmers used scarecrows to protect fields from birds and other animals that impose a threat to their crops. The intention was to carefully design it to resemble a farmer at work.
Raccoons dislike many things: people, predators, and even certain smells.
Scarecrows usually have broad shoulders, a tight waist, and legs stuffed with hay, straw, or leaves with a straw hat or baseball cap. They’re generally placed all by their lonesome out in the middle of a field or in groups of two or three to imitate more workers out in the area.
Scarecrows can work because, in more rural or suburban areas, raccoons and other small animals generally view humans as predators and aren’t used to being around them.
Of course, if you live in a city and are reading this next to a pigeon at a cafe, you’ll probably disagree. More or less, birds, raccoons, and any other animal living in a city are MUCH more used to human interaction, and therefore, they aren’t frightened by humans since they’ve been living side by side, harm-free.
So, back to the good stuff.
Owls are famously known as predators of small birds and mammals lurking around the open field. So, getting close to one in an open backyard is probably not a wise move for a raccoon.
Why Fake Owls and Scarecrows May Only Deter Raccoons Initially
Fake owls and scarecrows will work to repel raccoons, but they may only work to deter our furry friends initially due to habituation.
If you leave a fake owl or scarecrow out for a couple of weeks, at first, a visiting raccoon will be pretty cautious when approaching it.
However, they’re not stupid.
Raccoons will eventually realize that the scarecrow or owl isn’t moving, and they’ll begin to get used to having the deterrent there and not be afraid of it.
They aren’t slam dunk solutions, but there is always the possibility that the raccoon may actually be overly cautious and not return to the area once it senses a human presence there.
Raccoons, however, are pretty curious critters and are very opportunistic, so if they sense an opportunity for a chance at a good meal, they may eventually approach your garden if they have even the slightest doubt that your fake owl or scarecrow is not real.
For instance, if there’s a Raccoon feasting on your bird feeder, there a few things you can do, along with using a fake owl or scarecrow.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to increase the effectiveness of these deterrents.
Fake Owls to Deter Raccoons
Between scarecrows and fake owls, the latter might be the more practical option for your garden and yard.
Here’s a few quick options for you to take a peek at that may fit your raccoon repelling needs.
At more than 10 inches tall, this horned owl statue can be an effective repellent against critters, including raccoons.
It is made of high-quality molded plastic, making it a bit more weather resistant. Additionally, the bottom of the decoy can be stuffed with sand, allowing you to weigh down the owl to avoid having it blown over in the wind.
This super realistic-looking, fake owl is made of PVC and resin, which helps the statue withstand heavy rains and scorching sunlight.
The best thing about this product is its complex detailing in feathers, feet, and face, giving it all the more potential to deter raccoons from your backyard.
For placement, if you can perch the owl on an awning, fence post, or back deck on an elevated surface – this will make the owl look all the more realistic in your backyard when a raccoon is approaching.
Making a DIY Scarecrow to Deter Raccoons
Scarecrow options online are somewhat scarce. The best way to solve that is by making your own scarecrow at home. Trust us; you don’t need to be a master gardener to create one!
If you’re crafty, you can just follow these simple steps.
- Find an old shirt, old blue jeans, and a used pair of rubber boots.
- Set-up your scarecrow’s body by using a crossed-shaped wooden fixture.
- Stock up some hay, leaves, or dried grass.
- Stuff your preferred material inside of the shirt, blue jeans, and boots.
- Nail the shirt and the pants to the wooden fixtures.
- For the head of your scarecrow, you may use an old pillow or a rounded stuffed fabric. Otherwise, you can just simply put a hat on top of the wooden fixture.
- Place the stuffed boots below the pants and fasten them to the jeans.
- Lastly, get an old straw hat to put on it’s head!
If you’re not in a crafty mood, you can purchase a scarecrow online but often or not; they won’t be the actual size of a human.
How To Use Fake Owls and Scarecrows As Raccoon Deterrents
So, just where the heck should you place these to keep raccoons at bay?
The best way to maximize either a scarecrow or fake owl is by placing it first on an area where it can be visibly seen across your field, then try to move it from time to time. In that way, raccoons will be more suspicious of the “fake” predator, preventing them from coming nearby.
As discussed earlier, raccoons may get accustomed to scarecrows and fake owls and, eventually, not be afraid of them.
The best way to make the two all the more effective is by using several methods interchangeably every week or two.
In that way, raccoons will not become familiar with your deterrents and will be all the more confused and, thus, more cautious and stay away from your property.
Use Other Raccoon Repellents Along With Owls and Scarecrows
Another strategy that goes along with scarecrows and fake owls is installing motion-activated sensor technologies such as sprinklers, floodlights, and speakers.
These motion-activated deterrents will be a backup method in case raccoons get too close to your owls or scarecrows. Additionally, they’ll reinforce the initial idea that the animals SHOULD have stayed away from your scarecrow/owl.
Suppose you want to repel raccoons from invading your backyard without actually hurting them. In that case, Orbit’s Yard Enforcer will do just that.
Once it senses a critter nearby, day or night, they’ll get blasted with a sudden burst of water, which will surely give your critters quite the jump.
Furthermore, it also has intelligent sensing technology to identify the difference between a moving animal and swaying trees. So, if you’re running off a well, you won’t be wasting water!
Suppose you place this directly next to or underneath your owl or scarecrow decoy. In that case, an approaching raccoon (who will more than likely already be cautious of the decoy) will get hit with a stream of water, which will more than likely stop them from wanting to come back to your yard in any sense.
This battery-operated spotlight can illuminate 400 lumens of brightness once activated! In the still of the night, that’ll be quite the bright surprise to an approaching raccoon.
You’ll want to install this product besides your scarecrow or fake owl, which will additionally reinforce the idea that the decoy is actually something they SHOULD be cautious of.
This product is a powerful spray that can easily deter not just raccoons but other pests as well.
It’s made from a handcrafted peppermint formula, so even if it smells horrible to raccoons, it will never create an unwanted scent in your backyard (unless you hate peppermint… awkward.)
Spray a little bit of this repellent in your scarecrows and fake owls, and it will add up to their efficacy in keeping raccoons away from your crops!
The only issue here is that you’ll need to reapply the spray quite often, but that’s to be expected with any non-commercial grade spray.
Should You Still Use Fake Owls and Scarecrows to Repel Raccoons?
Frankly, we would still recommend using scarecrows and fake owls as a deterrent in your backyard, as it’s a relatively inexpensive option to test out and see if it works for you.
Though it might not be a guaranteed solution in deterring raccoons, it still has some initial effects that you can benefit from. After all, you could never go wrong with having a scarecrow or fake owl as a decorative statue on your lawn, especially during the fall season!
Just think of it as your initial layer of defense whenever migratory critters try to intrude on your property.
To get the MOST effective deterrent possible in the long run, you should accompany the use of scarecrows and fake owls with other raccoon-deterrent tactics and products.
Applying different strategies might be strenuous at first, but you will surely reap the benefit once raccoons and other critters start to stay away.
That’s a Wrap!
The situation might look helpless at first, but if you properly maximize the use of scarecrows and fake owls, accompanied with other raccoon-deterrent products, you’ll hopefully have a raccoon-free backyard.
Bear in mind that the key here is not sticking to a single solution but relying on multiple tactics rotating from time to time.
Happy raccoon repelling!
Soulsbury, C. D., & White, P. C. (2016). Human–wildlife interactions in urban areas: a review of conflicts, benefits and opportunities. Wildlife research, 42(7), 541-553.
Król, K. (2020). The Scarecrow as Part of Polish Rural Cultural Landscapes. Agriculture, 10(11), 496.
Marks, J. S. (1986). Nest-site characteristics and reproductive success of Long-eared Owls in southwestern Idaho. The Wilson Bulletin, 547-560.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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